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BITTER US POLITICS IN A POLARIZED AGE

BITTER US POLITICS IN A POLARIZED AGE

The separation of children of illegal immigrants from their families at the US border has dominated news in the US this week. It appeared on Wednesday that an intense public backlash had forced President Trump to change direction. But the executive order he signed this week leaves US border policy in a state of confusion and does nothing to reunite the 2,300+ children already in US custody with their families.


As Alex Kliment and Kevin Allison noted on Wednesday, polling reveals a sharp divide between Republicans and all other Americans on the emotive subject of illegal immigrants and their children.

A survey published this week by Quinnipiac University found that “American voters oppose 66–27 percent the policy of separating children and parents when families illegally cross the border into America.” That includes 91 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents. But Republican voters support the separation policy by a margin of 55–35 percent.

Context: A generation ago, as elections approached, US politicians competed with opponents from the other political party for the support of “centrist” voters, those less motivated by ideology of the left or right. That practice was dying before President Trump ran for office. It now appears all but dead.

Research suggests that Americans are increasingly unwilling to marry, make friends with, or even live near those who don’t share their political views. In a bitterly divided country, one where voters get much of their news and views from cable TV channels and websites that align with their biases, and where more than 40 percent of eligible voters didn’t show up to cast a ballot in 2016, politicians worry much more about motivating their supporters to actually vote than about winning support from the political center.

Bottom line: On race relations, climate change, tariffs imposed on allies, a trade war with China, and immigration policy, this political logic can persuade President Trump to actively support a policy that’s broadly unpopular. He’s betting that his voters care more about a particular issue than other voters do.

Whether he’s right or wrong, expect more of the same as November’s elections approach.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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