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‘The Big Sort’ Examines America’s Cultural Isolation


Originally aired on May 6, 2008.

Tom Fudge: E Pluribus Unum is the motto of our country. It means “out of many, one.” Just dig a coin out of your pocket and you'll see it right there. But is it true? I mean... do our many parts make one America?

That's become a profound and troubling question in our country. And it's one that's closely examined in a new book called The Big Sort , written by journalist Bill Bishop.

Let me give you the whole name of his book. It's The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing us Apart. To a large degree, Bishop's book is about migration; the way people have moved across the country over the past three decades. But it's the result of that migration that gives cause for concern.

Essentially, people have moved in a way that's created a Balkanized America. A collection of isolated communities of like-minded people, who have less and less in common and less and less to do with people of differing views and lifestyles. Cultural segregation is one way to look at this, and this modern form of segregation has created a political life that's highly partisan.


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