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Politics Monday: MSNBC's Steve Kornacki Traces Today's Political Divisions To The 1990s

Clinton 1995 State of the Union
Library of Congress
President Clinton delivers his 1995 State of the Union address.

As the 2020 election was unfolding, a Gallup poll in January found a record degree of political polarization in America.

It would be easy to pin the divisions on President Trump, but NBC and MSNBC national political correspondent Steve Kornacki thinks the seeds were planted in the 1990s, when American politics was defined by 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.

Kornacki explored the origins of today's political polarization in his 2018 book, "The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism."

This program originally aired Oct. 10, 2018.


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)

A veteran of Charlotte radio news, Chris joined the "Charlotte Talks" staff in January 2016, but has been listening to WFAE since discovering the station as a high schooler.