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Reproduced from a Pew Research Political Polarization report; Graphic: Axios Visuals

There are numerous reasons American politics went off the rails, but there are at least six seminal events in the past 24 years that steered us here.

Sound smart: Politics is growing more personal, polarized and pugnacious. This dynamic is particularly acute on the right. This will likely get worse before it gets better as the trends outlined below continue unabated.

  1. Newt Gingrich weaponized warfare politics in a methodical and sustained way.
  2. The creation of Fox News in 1996 televised and monetized this hard-edged combat politics.
  3. Facebook, and later Twitter, socialized rage and argument.
  4. John McCain picking Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 celebritized rage politics.
  5. Facebook algorithm-ized rage. The more emotion you felt and sought, the more the news-feed machine pumped at you.
  6. Twitter + Trump habitualized and radicalized the moment-by-moment rage and reaction of politicians, voters and the media.

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