Members of Congress may not come to the floor armed with pistols as they did in the days leading up to the Civil War, but their words are as toxic as any time since then. And we are - in many ways - a more divided nation than any time since then.
In interviews with political leaders, media analysts, and people in communities around the country, ABC News found what appears to be a new phenomenon: the polarization is feeding on itself. It's not just politicians, business or religious leaders, liberals or conservatives - or the media: It's each of us. And it's alarming.
Bill Bishop, a reporter for the Austin-American Statesman newspaper in Texas, conducted a three-year investigation into America's divide. Bishop reached back over the last 14 presidential election cycles and counted Republican and Democratic votes in all 3,100 American counties. The research yielded some startling information. "There's a steady trend line of the country pulling apart, becoming more politically segregated. We call this "The Big Sort," said Bishop.