The so-called "unbridgeable gap"
The conventional wisdom has it that Americans are less united than we have ever been. Whether it be issues of race, the environment or our response to the COVID pandemic, we are to believe that there is an unbridgeable gap between the two roughly equal factions that are said to exist on the political left and right—and that this gap has never been worse.
I don’t subscribe to that theory. I do believe that there is a gap, but it isn’t between the left and the right. It’s between the Orists and the Andists.
An Orist is someone who presents you with a binary choice on every event and issue
Either you (A) agree with his view on an issue or (B) you are wrong—and a bad person. The Orist has already made up his mind. The only question is whether you will educate yourself sufficiently that you can see the light, his light. The Orist is a partisan in all things.
An Andist is a very different type of person. He sees very little in binary terms. For him, there are a spectrum of possible views on virtually everything. If you disagree with the Andist’s particular view, that has nothing to do with his opinion of your character. While the Andist may have strong beliefs, they are loosely held. He is persuadable by a good Argument well made.
Take the 2020 presidential election as an illustration. As I write this, Donald Trump has not conceded to Joe Biden and contends that voter fraud has influenced the outcome. That’s a neutral statement of the event: Trump has (in fact) not conceded and he (does) contend that there has been voter fraud.
Depending on your viewpoint, you will likely see this event differently. Many of my left-leaning friends have told me that the president’s intransigence is a denial of the people’s will and a dangerous threat to our democratic system. Many of my right-leaning friends have told me that rampant voter fraud presents a dangerous threat to the integrity of our election process.
The Orist (be he of the left of the right) demands that you agree with one or the other view
Either the president is a dangerous demagogue or he is protecting the nation from the predations of a corrupt system. The Orist has already decided which view is correct and demands that you agree with his decision or be cast out.
The Andist is open to the possibility that both views are (at least partially) true. It could be true that there has been voter fraud and it could also be true that it is dangerous for the president to be calling our election process into question without sufficient evidence. The Andist hasn’t decided anything yet—he just wants to solve the problem.
Not the Orist, he has other motivations. Whether it is the quest for power, money or his own self-actualization, the Orist is trying to sell you something through emotional blackmail. For him, idealogical purity is paramount. For the Andist, it’s an impediment to Acceleration.
The partisan stridency of the Orist is what actually divides us
If we are becoming less united as a people in this country it is not because we have differing viewpoints on the problems we face. That’s always been true of Americans and it’s a strength not a weakness. No, it is not the diversity of opinion that divides us, it is the partisan stridency of the Orists and their efforts to demonize all who disagree them.
It’s not left versus right, it’s the Orists versus the Andists and if the Andists don’t win we all will be lost.