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Charlotte Talks: Today's Polarized Politics Rooted In The 1990s

Library of Congress

Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018

MSNBC's Steve Kornacki traces the political polarization of the Trump era back to the partisan warfare in Washington of the 1990s. He talks with Erik Spanberg about how America divided itself into tribes of red states and blue states.

As the Trump presidency neared the one-year mark last fall, a Pew Research survey declared America to be more politically divided than ever.

It would be easy to pin the divisions on the president, but Steve Kornacki thinks the seeds were planted in the 1990s, when American politics was defined by the partisan fights between Bill Clinton's Democratic White House and the Newt Gingrich-led Republican Congress.

There were government shutdowns, an impeachment trial, and an undercurrent of populism that would sweep Trump into the presidency a generation later.

By the end of the decade, the country had been carved into red and blue states.

Credit YouTube / NBC News
The 2000 presidential election caused "red state" and "blue state" to become shorthand for Republican and Democratic parts of the country, Kornacki says.

Kornacki, a national political correspondent for MSNBC and NBC News, explores the formation of our political polarization in the new book, The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism.


Erik Spanberg, Charlotte Business Journal, managing editor (@CBJspanberg)


Steve Kornacki, NBC News and MSNBC national political correspondent; author of The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism (@SteveKornacki)