Please note: This is neither a rant nor a statement regarding my politics.
Okay, so I take a lunch break, like most folks, and I tend to watch YouTube videos while I have lunch. I generally start with the previous night’s clips from Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, because I find them funny. They’re gateway drugs (though, I was gated into them by John Oliver; the idea of such an obviously British guy hosting an American comedy show was too good to miss). I’ll end up watching clips from CNN, or Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, or The Young Turks. Occasionally, I get fooled into clicking on something I really, massively don’t agree with, and then YouTube thinks I want to see more of that kind of crap, but that’s beside the point.
The point, or the question I want to ask my American readers, is… Well, it seems like American politics only has extremes. I’m English and used to UK politics. We have such glories as The Monster Raving Loony Party (who have been known to beat some of the major parties in elections, if never enough to get a seat in Parliament). Our two main parties (technically it’s three, but the Liberals only count as an afterthought) tend to be middle-of-the-road. The are known as the Conservatives and Labour (the Liberals used to be the Wigs; don’t ask). The Conservatives have been most successful recently by being liberal. Labour are socialist, but tend to do much better when they don’t really enact socialist policies (which is why they’re currently not Her Majesty’s Government, but Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition). American politics only seems to have extremes, and you don’t even call them by recognisable names! The Republicans seem to be Conservative (capital C). Your Democrats seem more in the middle-ground, but their supporters, while not rabid Communists, seem to be utterly fanatical about their support.
I tend to steer clear of too much politics in my books because I don’t understand the nature of the thing in America (where a lot of my stuff is set). I tend to avoid major characters-of-colour (to coin a phrase) for similar reasons (or I engineer a setting where the prejudice I’m told about is somehow mitigated; in the Ultrahumans books, some of the racial prejudice which should be there has been mitigated by prejudice against Ultras, for example). In True Dark, the 2016 Presidential Election takes place, but it’s not the one that really happened (even if I couldn’t stop myself putting in some… Trump-related elements; okay, so I didn’t want to stop myself). I got to fictionalise things, so it’s more my universe’s version of American politics, based on what I see and hear.
So, the question is: is the American political environment really so polarised? What’s the experience of people who live in it? In the UK, most people don’t really care (which is why we ended up with Brexit), but do Americans feel this stuff more deeply?
If we’re going to do this, let’s remain civil, please. I’m looking for how Americans feel about politics, not how you feel about particular parties or people, so let’s avoid bating the trolls. Thanks.