The Atlantic Daily: America Isn’t Split in Half. It’s Divided Into Four.

The country has fragmented into four groups, our writer argues, each informed by a distinct narrative about the nation’s moral identity.

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To understand America, you must first assemble the pieces. In the latest issue of our magazine, my colleague George Packer argues that the country has fragmented into four groups, each informed by a distinct narrative about the nation’s moral identity. These narratives “overlap, morph into one another, attract and repel one another.”

The groups are:

1. Free America

Libertarians who resent regulation in favor of individual freedom, tracing a through line from Ronald Reagan to Newt Gingrich to Ted Cruz

2. Smart America

A class of high earners and technocrats who attend competitive schools, embrace meritocracy, own MacBooks, and don’t intermingle with the rest of the country

3. Real America

White Christian nationalists, as recently energized by Sarah Palin and Donald Trump

4. Just America

A young generation that believes injustice is at the heart of the country’s problems and speaks the language of identity politics

All four narratives, Packer argues, “emerged from America’s failure to sustain and enlarge the middle-class democracy of the postwar years”—and all four are helping pull the country apart.

Read the piece.


One question, answered: King Prather from North Carolina asks: What, if any, silver linings might come out of the pandemic for school-age kids?

Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer respond in our latest “Homeroom” column:

No one knows whether the pandemic will make kids more resilient or flexible, and how each child will process this difficult time will vary tremendously, but the job of teachers and parents is to do what we can to help kids find gratitude and opportunity in the life that awaits them.

Keep reading.

Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Get excited for summer movies. Our culture writer Shirley Li rounds up 32 new films coming this summer, with picks for those who plan to watch in theaters and those who aren’t quite ready to leave the couch.

Tonight’s break from the news:

A scandal is rocking the evangelical world.


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.