California (LA) / Jenny Yang

Massachusetts (MA) The United States is more polarized now than any other time in AMericna history. How plaroaidzed? Since the 2016 Election -cite this https://www.history.com/news/just-how-divided-are-americans-since-trumps-election. 14 causes of polarization:

1. The end of the Cold War. The West’s victory in the Cold War means that (with the possible exception of jihadi terrorism) there is no longer a global enemy to keep us united as we focus on a powerful and cohesive external threat.

2. The rise of identity-group politics. On both the Left and the Right, the main conceptual frameworks have largely shifted in focus from unifying values to group identities. As Amy Chua puts it in Political Tribes (2018): “The Left believes that right-wing tribalism—bigotry, racism—is tearing the country apart. The Right believes that left-wing tribalism—identity politics, political correctness—is tearing the country apart. They are both right.” (Never mind here the possibly problematic usage of the terms “tribe” and “tribal.”)

3. Growing religious diversity. Current trends in American religion reflect as well as contribute to political polarization. One trend is growing secularization, including a declining share of Americans who are Christians, less public confidence in organized religion, and rising numbers of religiously unaffiliated Americans. One consequence is an increasingly open contestation of Christianity’s once-dominant role in American public and political culture. But another trend is the continuing, and in some respects intensifying, robustness of religious faith and practice in many parts of the society. This growing religious divide helps to explain the rise of several of the most polarizing social issues in our politics, such as gay marriage and abortion. It also contributes to polarizing the two political parties overall, as religious belief becomes an increasingly important predictor of party affiliation. For example, among Democrats and Democratic-leaning U.S. adults, religiously unaffiliated voters (the “nones”) are now more numerous than Catholics, evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, or members of historically black Protestant traditions, whereas socially and theologically conservative Christians today are overwhelmingly Republican.

4. Growing racial and ethnic diversity. In the long run, increased racial and ethnic diversity is likely a strength. But in the short run—which means now—it contributes to a decline in social trust (the belief that we can understand and count on one another) and a rise in social and political conflict.

5. The passing of the Greatest Generation. We don’t call them the greatest for no reason. Their generational values, forged in the trials of the Great Depression and World War II—including a willingness to sacrifice for country, concern for the general welfare, a mature character structure, and adherence to a shared civic faith—reduced social and political polarization. Thus, note:

I didn’t vote for him but he’s my President, and I hope he does a good job.
—John Wayne (b. 1907) on the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960

I hope he fails.
—Rush Limbaugh (b. 1951) on the election of Barack Obama in 2008

6. Geographical sorting. Americans today are increasingly living in politically like-minded communities. Living only or mainly with like-minded neighbors makes us both more extreme and more certain in our political beliefs. As Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing put it in The Big Sort (2008): “Mixed company moderates; like-minded company polarizes. Heterogeneous communities restrain group excesses; homogeneous communities march toward the extremes.”

Percent of U.S. voters living in counties in which a presidential candidate won by a “landslide” margin of 20 percent or more of the vote:
1976: 25
2016: 60

7. Political party sorting. Once upon a time, there were such creatures as liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. No longer. The parties have sorted philosophically such that today almost all liberals are Democrats and all conservatives are Republicans. One main result is that the partisan gap between the parties is wide and getting wider.

Across 10 measures that Pew Research Center has tracked on the same surveys since 1994, the average partisan gap has increased from 15 percentage points to 36 points.
—Pew Research Center, 2017

8. New rules for Congress. The weakening and in some cases elimination of “regular order”—defined broadly as the rules, customs, and precedents intended to promote orderly and deliberative policymaking—as well as the erosion of traditions such as Senatorial courtesy and social fraternization across party lines—have contributed dramatically to less trust and more animosity in the Congress, thus increasing polarization.

It’s hard to exaggerate how much House Republicans and Democrats dislike each other these days.
—Juliet Eilperin, Fight Club Politics (2006)

9. New rules for political parties. Many reforms in how we nominate, elect, and guide our political leaders—shifting the power of nomination from delegates to primaries, dismantling political machines, replacing closed-door politics with televised politics, and shrinking the influence of career politicians—aimed to democratize the system. But these changes also replaced the “middle men” who helped keep the system together with a political free-for-all in which the loudest and most extreme voices are heard above all others.

As these intermediaries’ influence fades, politicians, activists, and voters all become more individualistic and unaccountable. The system atomizes. Chaos becomes the new normal both in campaigns and in the government itself.
—Jonathan Rauch, “How American Politics Went Insane,” 2016

10. New political donors. In earlier eras, money in American politics tended to focus on candidates and parties, while money from today’s super-rich donors tends to focus on ideas and ideology—a shift that also tends to advance polarization.

11. New political districtsWidespread gerrymandering—defined as manipulating district boundaries for political advantage—contributes significantly to polarization, most obviously by making candidates in gerrymandered districts worry more about being “primaried” by a more extreme member of their own party than about losing the general election.

12. The spread of media ghettoes. The main features of the old analog media—including editing, fact-checking, professionalization, and the privileging of institutions over individuals—served as a credentialing system for American political expression. The distinguishing feature of the new digital media—the fact that anyone can publish anything that gains views and clicks—is replacing that old system with a non-system that is atomized and largely leaderless. One result made possible by this change is that Americans can now live in media ghettoes. If I wish, I can live all day every day encountering in my media travels only those views with which I already agree. Living in a media ghetto means less that my views are shaped and improved, much less challenged, than that they are hardened and made more extreme; what might’ve been analysis weakens into partisan talking points dispensed by identity-group leaders; moreover, because I’m exposed only to the most cartoonish, exaggerated versions of my opponents’ views, I come to believe that those views are so unhinged and irrational as to be dangerous. More broadly, the new media resemble and reinforce the new politics, such that the most reliable way to succeed in either domain is to be the most noisesome, outrageous, and polarizing.

13. The decline of journalistic responsibility. The dismantling of the old media has been accompanied by, and has probably helped cause, a decline in journalistic standards. These losses to society include journalists who’ll accept poor quality in pursuit of volume and repetition as well as the blurring and even erasure of boundaries between news and opinion, facts and non-facts, and journalism and entertainment. These losses feed polarization.


hat have we learned so far from this survey of polarization causes?  I’d say, four things. I’d also say, not enough to get to the heart of the matter.

For starters, we could probably make the list longer. For example, we could plausibly argue that rising income equality should be added (though in my view the evidence on this one is ambiguous). Second, we can see that some of these causes are ones we either can’t do much about or wouldn’t want to even if we could. Third, few if any of these causes contain the quality of intentionality: None of them wake up each morning and say, “Let’s polarize!” Even those coming closest to reflecting the intention to polarize, such as gerrymandering, reflect other and more fundamental intentions, such as winning elections, advancing a political agenda, or gaining clicks or viewers.

The fourth conclusion is the most important. None of these 13 causes directly perpetuate polarization. They are likely what analysts would call distal (ultimate) causes, but they are not proximate (immediate, direct) causes. They seem to have shaped an environment that incentivizes polarization, but they are not themselves the human words and deeds that polarize.

And so our bakers-dozen list ultimately doesn’t satisfy. We need a 14th cause, arguably the most important one. It’s certainly the most direct and immediate, the most proximate, cause of polarization.

14. The growing influence of certain ways of thinking about each other. These polarizing habits of mind and heart include:

  • Favoring binary (either/or) thinking.

  • Absolutizing one’s preferred values.

  • Viewing uncertainty as a mark of weakness or sin.

  • Indulging in motivated reasoning (always and only looking for evidence that supports your side).

  • Relying on deductive logic (believing that general premises justify specific conclusions).

  • Assuming that one’s opponents are motivated by bad faith.

  • Permitting the desire for approval from an in-group (“my side”) to guide one’s thinking.

  • Succumbing intellectually and spiritually to the desire to dominate others (what Saint Augustine called libido dominandi).

  • Declining for oppositional reasons to agree on basic facts and on the meaning of evidence.




Capital: Sacramento

State abbreviation/Postal code: Calif./CA

Governor: Jerry Brown, D (to Jan. 2019)

Lieut. Governor: Gavin Newsom, D (to Jan. 2019)

Senators: Kamala Harris, D (to Jan. 2023); Dianne Feinstein, D (to Jan. 2019)

U.S. Representatives: 53

Historical biographies of Congressional members

Secy. of State: Alex Padilla, D (to Jan. 2019)

Atty. General: Xavier Becerra, D (to Jan. 2021)

Treasurer: John Chiang, D (to Jan. 2019)

Entered Union (rank): Sept. 9, 1850 (31)

Present constitution adopted: 1879

10 largest cities (2013): Los Angeles, 3,884,307; San Diego, 1,335,896; San Jose, 998,537; San Francisco, 837,442; Fresno, 509,924; Sacramento, 476,686; Long Beach, 469,428; Oakland, 406,253; Bakersfield, 363,630; Anaheim, 345,012

2010 resident census population (rank): 37,253,956 (1). Male: 18,517,830; Female:18,736,126. White: 21,453,934 (57.6%); Black: 2,299,072 (6.2%); American Indian: 362,801 (1.0%); Asian: 4,861,007 (13.0%); Other race: 6,317,372; Two or more races: 1,815,384 (4.9%); Hispanic/Latino: 14,013,719 (37.6%). 2010 population 18 and over: 27,958,916; 65 and over:4,246,514; median age: 35.2.

California became a U.S. territory in 1847 when Mexico surrendered it to John C. Frémont. On Jan. 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill, starting the California Gold Rush and bringing settlers to the state in large numbers. By 1964, California had surpassed New York to become the most populous state. One reason for this may be that more immigrants settle in California than any other state—more than one-third of the nation's total in 1994. Asians and Pacific Islanders led the influx.

Leading industries include agriculture, manufacturing (transportation equipment, machinery, and electronic equipment), biotechnology, aerospace-defense, and tourism. Principal natural resources include timber, petroleum, cement, and natural gas.

Almost twenty years after California passed the "Save Our State" initiative, which denied public, social, educational, and health services to illegal immigrants, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill in 2011 giving illegal immigrant college students access to state-funded financial aid, the second half of two-part legislation known as the "Dream Act."

  • California officially became a state (the 31st) in 1850.

  • California was originally known as the Grizzly Bear State. As California boomed—and the bear population was wiped out—it became the Golden State. 

  • California is the most populous state (and the third largest by area). To put California's population, approximately 38 million people, in perspective, one out of every eight Americans is from California.

  • The fortune cookie was inspired by the Japanese fortune tradition o-mikuji and invented in California.

  • California's most famous for its Gold Rush which began in 1848, but it also had a Silver Rush in the Calico Mountains from 1881 to 1896. By 1904, Calico was a ghost town.

  • California produces 80% of the world’s almonds.

  • California is the world’s 5th largest supplier of food. 

California's $2.8 trillion economy is larger than that of any other state.[12] If it were a country, California would be the 5th largest economy in the world (larger than the U.K. or France),[13] and the 36th most populous as of 2017.[14] The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and third-largest urban economies ($1.253 trillion and $878 billion respectively as of 2017), after the New York City metropolitan area.[15] The San Francisco Bay Area PSA had the nation's highest GDP per capita in 2017 (~$99,000),[15] and is home to four of the world's ten largest companies by market capitalization[16] and four of the world's ten richest people.[17]

California is considered a global trendsetter in popular culture, innovation, and politics. It is considered the origin of the American film industry, the hippie counterculture, the Internet,[18] and the personal computer, among others. The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are widely seen as the centers of the global technology and entertainment industries, respectively. California has a very diverse economy: 58% of the state's economy is centered on financegovernmentreal estate servicestechnology, and professional, scientific and technical business services.[19] Although it accounts for only 1.5% of the state's economy,[19] California's agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. state.[20][21][22][23]

The culture of California is a Western culture and most clearly has its modern roots in the culture of the United States, but also, historically, many Hispanic Californioand Mexican influences. As a border and coastal state, Californian culture has been greatly influenced by several large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America and Asia.

  • California is a "minority majority" state, with 58% of its population Asian, Hispanic, Native American or other groups. 26% of its people were born outside the U.S.1

  • California contains the lowest and the highest points in the continental U. S. You can travel from 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley to 14,494-foot Mt. Whitney in less than a day.

  • Invented in California: fortune cookies, Apple computers, theme parks (Disneyland), blue jeans and the Barbie doll

  • Californians are perceived as more liberal than other Americans, especially those who live in the inland states.

Among the political idiosyncrasies and trendsetting, California was the second state to recall their state governor, the second state to legalize abortion, and the only state to ban marriage for gay couples twice by voters (including Proposition 8 in 2008). Voters also passed Proposition 71 in 2004 to fund stem cell research, and Proposition 14 in 2010 to completely change the state's primary election process. California has also experienced disputes over water rights; and a tax revolt, culminating with the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, limiting state property taxes.

The state's trend towards the Democratic Party and away from the Republican Party can be seen in state elections. From 1899 to 1939, California had Republican governors. Since 1990, California has generally elected Democratic candidates to federal, state and local offices, including current Governor Jerry Brown; however, the state has elected Republican Governors, though many of its Republican Governors, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, tend to be considered moderate Republicans and more centrist than the national party.

The Democrats also now hold a majority in both houses of the state legislature. There are 56 Democrats and 24 Republicans in the Assembly; and 26 Democrats and 12 Republicans in the Senate.

In general, Democratic strength is centered in the populous coastal regionsof the Los Angeles metropolitan area and the San Francisco Bay Area. Republican strength is still greatest in eastern parts of the state. Orange County also remains mostly Republican. One study ranked BerkeleyOaklandInglewood and San Francisco in the top 20 most liberal American cities; and BakersfieldOrangeEscondidoGarden Grove, and Simi Valleyin the top 20 most conservative cities.[252]

  • 3/10 largest U. S. cities are in California: Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose.

  • California was the country's top state in cash farm receipts in 2008, growing nearly half of all fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Almonds are the biggest export (in dollars), followed by dairy products, wine, table grapes, cotton, walnuts, pistachios and rice4




Since 2010, California Public Utilities Commission has been awarded $7,981,304 in federal grants for California's Broadband Initiative.

Another $350,064,330, accounting for 10.0% of all federal infrastructure grants, was awarded to broadband infrastructure projects in California.

Since 2011, access to a wired connection of at least 10mbps has improved from 92.0% to 95.5% of Californians.

In total there are 285 internet providers in California.

There are 2.1 million people in California without access to a wired connection capable of 25mbps download speeds.

There are 2.5 million people in California that have access to only one wired provider, leaving them no options to switch.

Another 1.0 million people in California don't have any wired internet providers available where they live.

97.4% of Californians have access to wireline service.

17.2% of Californians have access to fiber-optic service.

94.1% of Californians have access to cable service.

93.1% of Californians have access to DSL service.

100.0% of Californians have access to mobile broadbandservice.

43.0% of Californians have access to fixed wireless service.








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