Nate Cohn at NYT:

This threat to democracy has a name: sectarianism. It’s not a term usually used in discussions about American politics. It’s better known in the context of religious sectarianism — like the hostility between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq. Yet a growing number of eminent political scientists contend that political sectarianism is on the rise in America.

Any casual observer of American politics would agree that there’s plenty of hostility between Democrats and Republicans. Many don’t just disagree, they dislike each other. They hold discriminatory attitudes in job hiring as they do on the Implicit Association Test. They tell pollsters they wouldn’t want their child to marry an opposing partisan. In a paper published in Science in October by 16 prominent political scientists, the authors argue that by some measures the hatred between the two parties “exceeds longstanding antipathies around race and religion.” More than half of Republicans and more than 40 percent of Democrats tend to think of the other party as “enemies,” rather than “political opponents,” according to a CBS News poll conducted in January. A majority of Americans said that other Americans were the greatest threat to America.

Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted in March found that Republicans had heard more about the Dr. Seuss issue than they had heard about the $1.9 trillion stimulus package. A decade earlier, a far smaller stimulus package helped launch the Tea Party movement.

It is not easy to pin down where political sectarianism in America fits on a scale from zero to “The Troubles.” But nearly every protection that sectarian minorities pursue is either supported or under consideration by some element of the American right. That includes the more ominous steps. In December, Rush Limbaugh said he thought conservatives were “trending toward secession,” as there cannot be a “peaceful coexistence” between liberals and conservatives. One-third of Republicans say they would support secession in a recent poll, along with one-fifth of Democrats. One-third of Americans believe that violence could be justified to achieve political objectives. In a survey conducted in January, a majority of Republican voters agreed with the statement that the “traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” The violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 suggests that the risks of sustained political violence or even insurgency can’t be discounted.