Dennis Prager: The Left-Right Divide Is Not Bridgeable

The perspectives and thoughts expressed in this op-ed are the exclusive purview of the author.

Millions of Americans, depressed by the ideological divide in America, harbor a wish that something or someone can bridge this divide.

This wish is understandable. But it is fantasy. The divide is unbridgeable. One might as well wish that daily consumption of a hot fudge sundae will lead to weight loss.

To cite a few samples:

How are we to bridge the gap between those who believe men can become women and women can become men and those who don’t believe this? Between those who believe men menstruate and those who believe only women menstruate?

How are we to bridge the divide between those who believe “colorblind” is a racist notion and those who believe “colorblind” is the antidote to racism?

How are we to bridge the divide between those who believe Israel is the villain and Hamas is the victim and those who believe Israel is the victim and Hamas, which openly states its dedication to annihilating Israel and its Jewish inhabitants, is the villain, morally indistinguishable from the Nazis?

How are we to bridge the divide between those who believe young children should be brought to drag queen shows and those who believe this sexualization — and sexual confusion — of children is morally detestable?

How are we to bridge the divide between those who believe reducing the number of police will reduce violent crime and those who believe reducing the number of police will increase violent crime?

How are we to bridge the divide between those who believe in suppressing free speech if they deem any given speech “hateful” or “misinformation” and those who believe in free speech?

Every one of these positions is mutually contradictory. And this is just a partial list.

Ironically, even those who hold these mutually contradictory positions agree that these positions are unbridgeable. Only the naive (usually meaning non-left liberals) believe otherwise.

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I recommend that any American who believes the left-right gap is bridgeable read the comments submitted by New York Times readers to any column that discusses a left or right position. These comments are a superb indicator of what those on the left, including liberals (I often distinguish between liberalism and leftism) believe. To submit a comment to a New York Times article or column, one must be a subscriber to the New York Times. So, virtually all those who comment are on the left, graduated from college and have enough disposable income to subscribe to the New York Times.

This came to my attention again this past week when reading all the most popular comments reacting to a column on “Christian nationalism” written by Ross Douthat, the one New York Times columnist who defends Christian conservatives.

“Christian nationalist” is the latest left-wing smear of conservatives. It joins “sexist,” “racist,” “homophobic,” “Islamophobic,” “transphobic,” “xenophobic,” “fascist” and “threat to our democracy” as the left’s way of smearing — rather than responding to, let alone debating — those with whom progressives differ.

Douthat wrote an intelligent column explaining four distinctive conservative Christian positions and groups.

The comments rated highest on the list of “Reader Picks” are not only left-wing; they are irrational. Few, if any, actually define “Christian nationalism.” They simply declare conservative Christians “Christian nationalists,” just as they declare “transphobic” anyone who opposes hormone blockers for minors or opposes men who say they are women competing in women’s sports.

These comments also reveal a lack of self-awareness I believe is a defining characteristic of leftism. Nearly every commenter writes that any American who seeks to advance policies rooted in Judeo-Christian values is a Christian nationalist and therefore a “threat to democracy.” But if you seek to advance policies or laws rooted in a secular value system, that is perfectly in accord with American democracy.

“We progressives can advance our agenda based on our values, but when our opponents promote their values from a biblical perspective, they threaten democracy.” In other words, leftists can bring their values into American life, but conservative Christians (and Orthodox Jews) may not.

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As for the lack of self-awareness, the Left never perceives itself as imposing its values. The Left forced as many Americans as possible to get the frequently harmful COVID-19 vaccine. The Left forced young people who were at minimal risk from the virus to get vaccinated and forced children to miss school for nearly two years. But New York Times readers do not see themselves as imposing their values on Americans. In their minds, they never “threaten democracy”; only conservative Christians who wanted open churches and open schools did. And they never explain how, if a majority of the citizenry wants and votes for a particular value (or candidate) deemed conservative, democracy is “threatened.” Isn’t that the very definition of democracy — the candidate or policy with the most votes wins?

If you still think the left-right divide is bridgeable, it is only because it is too painful to confront the tragic reality of contemporary American life: Today’s left-right divide is at least as great as the North-South divide before and during the Civil War. The only thing that remains the same is that it was the Democratic Party that opposed freedom then, and it is the Democratic Party that opposes freedom today.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His commentary on Numbers, the fourth volume of “The Rational Bible,” his five-volume commentary on the first five books of the Bible, will be published in October 2024. He is the co-founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


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