Every nation has divisive issues.  While most are perennials, over time new issues gain salience as others fade.  At times of rising political and social tensions, such as the US since 1990, divisive issues multiply and take on a sharper edge.

If we wish to cope with these issues or even resolve some of them, it is useful to have a shared understanding of what they are as well as at least a sense of their relative importance in terms of content or divisiveness.  Here we group them in buckets, and we suggest a notional relative rank order while refraining from assigning numbered rankings because there is too much uncertainty.  In some cases, interest groups with sway over public policy make mildly divisive debates seem much more divisive than they actually are.  We think that this characterizes the debate over Climate Change, for instance.  In the case of Regulation, a lot depends on what is being regulated.  We take it to refer to regulating businesses to protect public health and well-being.

Here is our list:


Bucket 1:  Very Divisive


Gun Control


Health Care

Police Conduct


Bucket 2:  Somewhat Divisive

Financial Inequality

Affirmative Action

Middle East Policy

Weapons and Funding for Ukraine

Military versus Social Spending

Trust in Media

Trade Policy


Bucket 3:  Mildly Divisive

Climate Change

Environmental Protection

LGBT Rights

Voting Integrity


Bucket 4:  Other Contentious Issues

Campaign Finance

Electoral College




American Exceptionalism/Moral Status of Nationalism

Paid Family Leave


Separation of Church and State


Social Security




Kenneth J. Dillon is an historian.  Viktoria N. is a researcher and writer.  See also https://www.scientiapress.com/reparations-that-bring-us-together.


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