State of the Union: Political polarization worsens in US?

World Today

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When he took office, U.S. President Donald Trump promised to heal divisions in the U.S.

But a year later, surveys show the gulf between Democrats and Republicans is wider than ever.

So can they ever find unity?

CGTN’s Owen Fairclough reports from Philadelphia, the city famed for bringing the United States together.

It was history repeating: Americans fighting each other over their Civil War more than 150 years after it ended.

And last August’s protests over Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, had fatal consequences: a woman killed after a car drove into a crowd.

It was one of a number of controversies that characterized Donald Trump’s first year in office and a far cry from the unity that brought the Founding Fathers together to create the United States more than 200 years ago at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

Millions of people from across the world come here every year to see the table where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S.Constitution were signed.

Two great unifying moments in American history and a sharp contrast with today’s politics.

“You had big personalities, you had Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson – some of the greatest minds of the times. There are arguments, and there are debates. They have to come together to work these things out. What I think people draw from that when they come here is how they were they able to work together,” Eric Knight, a ranger at Independence National Historical Park said.

But bipartisanship has been in short supply for years – the gap between Democrats and Republicans at its widest, since monitoring by the non-partisan Pew Research Organization began in 1994.

Mary Frances Berry, professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, isn’t optimistic about the immediate future.

“The people who are posturing for office in the next congressional cycle and for the presidency are mostly taking very sharp positions on an issue rather than trying to propose a middle way. Unfortunately, I foresee more polarization ahead,” Berry said.

That’s mostly reflected on the streets of Philadelphia.

When we sample the thoughts of visitors at Independence National Park, these are the replies:

“There used to be much more of an idea of cooperation and sort of a unified purpose.”

“There’s no unity at all.”

“Too divided…everybody just should just love everybody.”

“America – USA – always brings people together.”

A plea for unity in the City of Brotherly Love.