The new American Civil War is not about slavery, but it contains undertones of racism. It is not neatly divided along an imaginary line such as the Mason-Dixon line, but the divide is a much finer line, splitting homes, schools, families, and workplaces. As was the case in the 1860s, there is no middle ground. There are no soldiers in uniforms carrying guns, yet, but there are the media, both mainstream and social. I have dubbed this war ‘The Great Divide’, and not since the civil rights era has this nation been so ideologically divided.
Trump’s dilemma, of which he is seemingly unaware, is how to unite the people of this nation. Trump claims that he did not create the divide, and in that he is right. America has always had a political divide; one that was probably at its smallest in the years immediately following World War II, when the nation came together in relief and the beginnings of a new prosperity. But since the origination of the so-called Tea Party movement in 2009, the divide has been growing exponentially. Ostensibly, the movement is in opposition to excessive taxation and government intervention in the private sector while supporting stronger immigration controls. But beneath the surface, there are undertones of bigotry. The beginning of the movement can be traced back to 19 February 2009, less than a month after the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president.
With the divisiveness generated by the dissatisfaction of those associated with the Tea Party movement, the gap between right and left, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, began to widen. The right swung farther to the right and the left pushed back by going farther to the left. By the end of President Obama’s first term in 2013, there was no longer any noticeable middle ground, no moderates who might have been able to help bridge the gap.
During President Obama’s second term, the gap continued to widen, with Republicans in Congress determined to throw up barricades to any and all of the President’s policies, even those they agreed with in theory. The term, A House Divided, came to be the reality of the U.S. government, with Congress accomplishing less and less each year, and the President barely able to direct any meaningful domestic policy.
Enter the 2016 election and one narcissistic, demagogue candidate whose only hope to win the election was to “divide and conquer”. So no, Donald Trump did not cause the divide, however he widened the gap by a very large margin. He ranted, lied, cheated and stole, figuring either that he would clean up the mess later, or that it would eventually take care of itself. But guess what? Since taking office, he has only added to the gap, without the slightest attempt to bring the two sides together. Now, nearly one-third of the way through 2017, there is more hatred, more disruptiveness, more bigotry, and more divisiveness than at any time in the last 50 years.
Which brings me back to my original point: Donald Trump has many problems facing him, however perhaps the biggest one is the society that he helped split into two radically differing sectors. Yet, instead of attempting to be more moderate, to take into consideration the needs and ideologies of both sides, he is as a bulldozer, plowing his way through any who do not agree with him. Those in his camp applaud, while those outside the camp only get angrier and feel more and more marginalized.
A president needs to be much more than a politician. He must also be a statesman and a diplomat, for he answers to ALL the people, not just those of his party, not just those who voted for him, and not just those who nod their heads in agreement every time he opens his mouth. He represents We The People, every single man, woman and child living in this nation, and if he forgets that, he is doomed to failure. Donald Trump has not forgotten that … he just never understood it to begin with.
We have seen much destruction and devastation within our country in the past three months, and if Trump persists in his goals to build a wall, to deport refugees, to ban immigrants, to defund environmental protections, to defund public schools, to destroy the ACA, and to strip civil rights from minorities, there will indeed be a civil war in this nation. Where President Obama worked toward creating transparency in government, Trump has pulled the curtains shut tightly. Where President Obama sought inclusiveness for all, Trump’s policies are clearly exclusionary.
Thus far, the only thing that has halted major outbreaks of violence throughout the nation is the expectation by those of us on the left that the investigations into the Russian connections of Trump and his gang will ultimately result in charges of treason, and Trump will be impeached. In the event that those investigations are somehow stifled, or go by the wayside without satisfactory results, there will be an internal war in the United States. There will be riots such as have not been seen in 50 years, families will be split asunder, and people will die.
I gave this much thought before writing this post, and searched my own soul, asking myself if I was being an alarmist. The end result, after weeks of thought, is that no, I am not an alarmist. I am, just as I have always been, a realist. I talk to people on both sides of the invisible fence, and I know that both are spoiling for a fight. And the Great Divide goes well beyond politics, beyond even ideology … it goes to the core of who we are.
At this point, there are no simple solutions, no panaceas, and it will require more than our elected representatives can do to fix the problem. It will require that each of us, no matter which side of the partisan aisle we support, find it in our hearts to remember our humanitarianism, to be flexible, to be willing to meet the other halfway. However, Trump and Congress must be the drivers of any possible solution. If they fail to understand the magnitude of the problem, if they ignore the problem and further divide the nation, if they discount We The People, they have only themselves to blame for being short-sighted. They will pay the price at the polls next year, but we will pay in the streets this year. Think about it.