If the old adage, “United we stand, Divided we fall” is true, the United States of America is in for a hard fall and one that will change the nation, perhaps for the better, perhaps not. Not since the Civil War has this nation been so ideologically divided and has hate and mistrust filled every venue.
Senator Jeff Flake said last week that the general fiasco that the Kavanaugh confirmation process has turned into is dividing the nation. While it is certainly widening the Great Divide, I would argue that the gap was already, before Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, wider than the Grand Canyon. There is no longer a middle ground, civil discourse has left for greener pastures and tensions have never in my lifetime been higher.
Today, there is “they” and “we” … you are either one or the other. You may remember me mentioning my dear friend Brian, the only sensible republican I know. Even he and I have given up on carrying on civil political conversations, for we value each other’s friendship and see how easily it could be shredded. He rarely reads my posts any more, and I skim over his Facebook posts, unless they are humour. Last night, however, my angst being at an all-time high, I did respond to this on Brian’s page …And my response was, under the circumstances, I thought reasonable:
“We don’t make fun of Trump’s sobriety, though I might question it in light of his behaviour. We don’t make fun of Pence’s fidelity, but we are appalled by Pence’s harsh anti-LGBT rhetoric and bigotry. And we don’t mock Kavanaugh’s ‘virginity’, but for the fact there is credible evidence that he was not a virgin at all, but rather a party-boy. “We” don’t wish the next several decades of life-or-death decisions in this nation to be made by a man who cannot even control his temper in a professional setting and who has lied to the U.S. Senate. But then, ‘we’ don’t want a dishonest, misogynistic, temperamental ‘man’ in the White House, either, but for the time being we are stuck with it. Sorry, Brian, but sometimes I just have to speak out — no disrespect toward you at all.”
Brian was fine with it, one of his friends not so much, but that is neither here nor there. The thing, I think, that offended me most was the “they” thing. It’s like some highly contentious sports tournament where it’s They vs Us, Liberal vs Conservative, Democrat vs Republican, Blue Jerseys vs Red Jerseys with ugly maga hats. My grandmother had a tattoo with a number on it. Should we go that route and make everybody get a tattoo either in blue or red, so we can see at a glance what “tribe” a person belongs to?
Brian’s friend, who I will not name, shot back wanting to know if I support Hillary and then drew some imaginary line whereby he concluded that I must be racist! In the words of my late friend, Brenda: HELLO HANNAH!!! (That was her form of an expletive) Or as our friend Roger has taught me to say: FORNACAZONI!!!
What are we doing to each other, people? Ten years ago, I couldn’t have told you if any one of my friends was a democrat or a republican … it just didn’t matter. Ten years ago, we didn’t talk about ‘tribalism’; we had family, we had friends, some closer than others, we had co-workers, but we didn’t ask people to qualify their eligibility for friendship by political party affiliation, or even religion or skin colour. At least, most of us didn’t. “They” was a term reserved for an enemy, perhaps the Russians, perhaps the Chinese, but we were all “We”.
I am so angry with “Us”, and by “Us”, I mean all of us, democrat, republican, male, female, every religion, every ideology. Instead of listening, all we are doing is yelling, insulting and bullying. Instead of trying to get our views across so that they can be debated, so that we can learn from each other, we are yelling and pointing fingers and blaming everybody, even dead people! We all have some good ideas, and most of us also have a few really rotten ones, but unless we listen, we will never know.
This nation will not survive the Era of Trump if we don’t unify, if we cannot even talk to each other. And yes, I definitely include myself in my anger, I accept my share of blame, for I am no better and by this afternoon will once again be ranting against “them”. But how do we do better when we cannot even talk to each other?
How do we put the greater good ahead of our individual desires? This nation has already crossed the line from a democratic-republic to an oligarchical-plutocracy. We now have a government run by the very few ultra-wealthy. Decisions made at the highest levels that will affect each and every one of us, are made by wealthy people whose only goal is to get wealthier. Elections are subject to Russian interference, for Putin sees it as being in his interest to keep Trump’s boot-lickers in Congress and to keep the nation divided. Elections are also subject to nefarious games such as gerrymandering, voter intimidation and voter suppression to attempt to keep certain groups, such as the poor and minorities away from the polls, or at least dilute their vote.
So, how is our voice to be heard? We write and call our elected officials, but at best we receive a standard form letter in response. Today, we have more avenues of communication … instantaneous communication … than ever before, yet we cannot make ourselves heard by the people who ought to be listening. And so, we fight amongst ourselves. And such may well be the goal of those in power. I began this post with a quote: United we stand, Divided we fall. I use another quote to leave you with another thought: Divide and Conquer.