A House Divided
Look at the nation today. Read the headlines. Look at your Facebook feed, browse the shelves of your local bookstore, listen to your late night TV host. What is on the national mind?
It’s not really the President, it’s not really the ‘radical leftists’ or the Neo-nazis — those are only flashpoints to exploit for expedience. What’s on our mind is each other.
What seems to be an unavoidable reality is that we don’t know each other very well anymore. And I don’t mean in the what’s your name sense or the city/country divide sense. I mean that we don’t share the same narrative, the same sense of reality. Can we agree on facts? Can we agree on what is actually happening? Can we agree on who we are? Can we agree on what it means to be American?
Silly question? Try asking your closest politically opposite friend the following:
“Does voter fraud exist, and has it played a remotely significant role in any recent US election?”
“Was there any contemporaneous corroborating evidence for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s account of her alleged assault by Justice Kavanaugh?”
“Should we send troops to the border to threaten migrants?”
“Should reporters allowed to be rude to the President?”
“Does being born in the United States make you American?”
Are your answers the same as theirs? If your Thanksgiving dinner is lacking conversation, break out one of these.
For anyone who is honest, and for anyone who knows anything about what this country is about, there is an objective answer to each one of these questions. No debate, it’s definitive.
In case you’re curious:
But I am willing to bet that nine times out of ten reasonable people on opposite sides of the aisle will disagree on each and every one of these questions.
Politics has become so important, so polarized, and so pervasive in all our lives that it has become an identity of sorts. Some Americans refuse to be friends with Republicans and others with Democrats. Politics of the day have ruined marriages. And in some sense, it makes sense. If you are a member of a marginalized population, political decisions can have incredibly significant impacts on your day to day life. Caring about politics and being invested, is actually a good thing. But distrust, disconnection, is not.
We get our news from sources designed to pull us apart. If the story of the day is bad news for the President, Fox News often won’t even run it. If a Democrat screws up, it won’t make an appearance on the nightly Rachel Maddow monologue. Life in this country would be a lot better if we all watched the NBC or CBS evening news, or read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Turn off Fox, turn off MSNBC, and then maybe we can get somewhere.
Millions of dollars spent every month on social media platforms popularize accounts and viewpoints run and propagated by people only doing it for popularity and personal gain. Charlie Kirk, Tomi Lahren, Candace Owens, Linda Sarsour, Cenk Uygur—they’re not worth your time. Stop following them. Political social media (even though the memes are usually pretty funny) is, in many ways, this nation’s weakness—just ask the Russians. We read headlines and not stories, we retweet without thinking, we get into political ‘debates’ in 140 characters or less. Rule #1 of social media politics is distrust the intentions of whoever is on the other side of the screen.
And so many of us don’t feel a part of a community, much less a nation, anymore. Suicide rates, depression rates, and anxiety disorder rates are skyrocketing. Our social capital lies in ruins. Is anybody part of a bowling league anymore? Why doesn’t anybody join the Boy Scouts these days?
The chasm is clear if you look hard enough, and even if you don’t. We need our common identity back. And the next political era in this nation belongs to the leader who can give every American something to believe in. A common narrative, one that inclusively helps us define ourselves and each other, is what this country is in search of.