Standing before the tree in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were faced with polarized interpretations of reality.
God had said, “You will surely die”.
The serpent said, “You won’t surely die”.
The first pair had to choose one pole or the other.
There was no middle ground.

American politics during my lifetime has been about seeking middle ground between Republicans and Democrats.  Many of us didn’t like Bill Clinton, but the nation in the 90’s wasn’t polarized.  People disagreed but didn’t hate each other over politics.  When Newt Gingrich and the Republicans were swept into power in 1994, Clinton worked with them toward compromises on a number of issues because compromises were desirable and possible.

But sometimes differences are so sharp that there is no middle ground.  During the War for Independence, you were a loyalist or a patriot.  During the Civil War, you favored the spread of slavery or opposed it.  The few who sought middle ground in those times usually found themselves alienated from and distrusted by both sides.  There just wasn’t much of a place for compromise.

Today we are polarized over gender issues, abortion, defunding the police, critical race theory in schools, drag queens in schools, wokeness, cancel culture, forced vaccines, shutdowns, closed schools, masking, election integrity, the January 6th commission, originalist justices, the packing of the Supreme Court, the second amendment, and climate change policies, to name just a few.

It is not insignificant that people find themselves polarized “in clusters” -- in the same direction on almost every issue.  For example, those that oppose abortion also usually oppose defunding the police and are concerned about election integrity and favor originalists on the Supreme Court and oppose packing the court (and so on).  Those on the opposite side of these questions are united at the other pole on almost every issue.

There may be a tiny spectrum of wiggle-room on details of each issue at the respective poles.  But there is no middle ground because the issues themselves are not the issue.  The radically different worldviews behind the issues that dictate the pole to which you will be drawn are the issue.  And with radically opposed worldviews, there is no middle ground.