Far too often, the headlines are missing the fact that so much closed-mindedness and balkanization in terms of openness toward engaging with political difference is far more pronounced on the left. And this is a phenomenon that I have observed as a professor who has taught college and university students for almost two decades now. Despite preaching ideas about inclusion, diversity, acceptance, and love, students on the left appear to be repeatedly closed-minded and intolerant of those who see the world differently; one is welcome if they fit within a narrow band of ideas and identities and everyone else is an oppressor of some sort.
The data is unambiguously clear here in terms of left-of-center student intolerance: In 2021, Axios found that young leftists, particularly females, were far more narrow minded than conservatives with just 5 percent of Republican college students saying that they would not befriend someone from the opposite party compared to almost 4 in 10 (37 percent) Democrats. The data also demonstrated that 30 percent of Democrats and 7 percent of Republicans would not work for someone who voted differently from them, while 71 percent of Democrats but only 31 percent of Republicans would not date someone with opposing views.
Turning to the nation at large, the numbers from the May 2021 American Perspectives Survey reveal similar levels of liberal bias toward those they disagree with. The survey found that despite our polarized politics, only 15 percent of Americans report ending relationships over political disagreements; the overwhelming majority—84 percent—have not walked away and figured out how to work with others with whom they may disagree. A further breakdown of the responses, however, uncovers some troubling findings. While 10 percent of conservatives say they have lost a friend over politics, 28 percent of liberals say the same. For extreme conservative identifiers, 22 percent say they have canceled a friendship, a handful of points higher than the national average. In contrast, a whopping 45 percent of extreme liberal identifiers have ended a friendship over politics—twice the figure of their conservative counterparts. Time and time again, the data tell the same story: Liberal college and university students, along with those who are left of center in the population at large, are far more closed minded and open to canceling others than their moderate and conservative counterparts. This should not be ignored.