The obvious answer is that Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton for the presidency.
Wait a minute: that happens every four years, doesn’t it? So why would an election between a Democrat and a Republican derail the American political system? One candidate wins and one loses in every election.
The answer is complex. But in the wake of the impeachment of a U.S. president for only the third time in American history, this demands that we take a look. Remember: just minutes after the inauguration of Donald Trump, major newspapers across America ran a story with a headline that stated, “Let the Impeachment of Donald Trump Begin!”
For that to happen, there surely was something or some “things” going on in the political stratosphere before Trump’s inauguration that would initiate a national story headline like that. What was happening?
This History of Political Animus and Division
I am a child of the 60s: rebellion, rock music, hallucinogenic drugs, marijuana, free love, and anti-war and anti-government. I almost went to Woodstock. Everyone was going! I couldn’t make it happen. But that era and life circumstances then gave birth to the social culture in America today.
Some will claim, “Young Americans today are no different than were young Americans then.” I’m not an old grump: I get that. The youth of every generation are just that: young. ALL young people deal with things in life that we all face. And when facing those things, decisions must be and are made — some good and some bad. We ALL do that. None of that is different today from the 60s. What’s different?
There are two generations living the same “truths” and the same “rebellions” at the same time in our lives. And one feeds off the other.
What happened to the “Me’s” of the late 60s? We all grew up. Some are in the commercial and private workplace. Others chose the military. Some are married, divorced, single — some with children and some without.
There’s a common experience that those from both generations share: Education. In fact, education is the MOST common social experience all Americans face during each generation.
American educators are among the best in the world. That has been proven over time by the results they produce in our young. But no one can look at this generation of young Americans and truthfully make a case that educational results today are identical to those in the 60s. What’s changed?
The answer: NOTHING! Let me explain.
Who were those in the 60s that were experimenting with serious drugs, rebelling against the U.S. government, demonstrating, lashing out at American institutions and against authority? Those were the Me’s of today! And many of the “Me’s” of that day went into education and are today populating the halls of our primary and secondary school classrooms. They have been sharing THEIR opinions, THEIR interpretations of life events, THEIR political perspectives, THEIR answers for the same questions we asked in the 60s. Our educators are molding and shaping the minds of a couple of generations of Americans.
But isn’t that something that parents should be responsible for? BINGO!
Parents like never before have become “persona non grata” regarding interactions with kids about ALL critical life issues. Children have seen their parents relegate to teachers not just the teaching of math, science, and civics but to many, if not all of those “non-school” important life principles. For two generations we adults have given the responsibility of shaping the minds and hearts of our children mostly to public education.
Wait a minute: Don’t think I’m lambasting teachers, professors, or even parents. Don’t think I’m promoting the necessity of private over public education either. I’m a product of public education as are my three children. What I AM explaining is today’s world, though much like OUR 60s world, is MUCH more complex than was the 60s. Our parents were a MUCH larger part of our lives then than are we in the lives of our children now. And because of OUR decisions, educators are filling those gaps.
And what are these “substitute teachers” teaching our children? The same things they digested from the educators in their lives when they were the same ages in the 60s as our kids’ ages now.
In that era, it was common to despise authority — ALL authority; to hate the military, the police (that’s when the term “pigs” was originated), to detest lifelong relationships with just one person. Free love, little or no personal responsibilities, and “flying by the seat of your pants” were “normalcies” in that decade.
Everyone did not adopt such a mindset. Not everyone hated cops, marriage, or the military. Many did. And oddly enough, many of those found their way into the Education System. Many of those have become the molders of the world in which our children and grandchildren live.
I’m not playing the “blame game.” I lived through that generation of “Me-ism,” made my own choices, and I survived. Many of our children and grandchildren do the same. This is simply the “Foreward” to an explanation for the extreme differences between various groups today comprised of different people in the nation and why political diversity has become so “in your face.”
Where Do We Find Ourselves Politically and Why?
The 2016 election illustrated just how different we are. We saw with the divisiveness between Democrats and Republicans that the divide is far more than just a divide: it’s a chasm. The unveiling of that chasm exposed through non-stop coverage the huge gulf between those with Democrat and those with Republican perspectives.
The chasm appears in every area of life: religious, social, ethnic, sexual, and even from state to state. It has never been so obvious as it is in our post-2016 election. It became obvious in that election and has rapidly expanded during the Trump presidency. That divisiveness is viewed and processed differently by Democrats than by Republicans. That’s not saying one is right and the other wrong, it’s simply factual.
Let’s take a look at how in several instances it has revealed itself.
Many Hillary Clinton voters have ceased communicating with friends, and even family members, who voted for Donald Trump. It is so common that the New York Times published a front-page article on the subject headlined “Political Divide Splits Relationships — and Thanksgiving, Too.”
The article begins with three stories:
Matthew Horn, a software engineer from Boulder, CO., canceled Christmas plans with his family in Texas. Nancy Sundin, a social worker in Spokane, WA., has called off Thanksgiving with her mother and brother. Ruth Dorancy, a software designer in Chicago, decided to move her wedding so that her fiancé’s grandmother and aunt, strong Trump supporters from Florida, could not attend.
A number of people who voted for Trump report that their sons and daughters no longer allow their parents to see their grandchildren. It’s so egregious that one man said that his brother-in-law’s mother told him that she “no longer had a son.”
All of this raises an obvious question: Why is this phenomenon of cutting off contact with friends and relatives so one-sided? Why don’t we hear about conservatives shunning friends and relatives who supported Hillary Clinton? After all, almost every conservative considered Clinton to be ethically and morally challenged. And most believed that another four years of left-wing rule would complete what Barack Obama promised he would do in 2008 if he were elected president — fundamentally transform the United States of America.
In other words, conservatives were not one bit less fearful of Clinton and the Democrats than Democrats were of Trump and Republicans.
Yet virtually no conservatives cut off contact with friends, let alone parents, who supported Clinton.
Here are ten reasons left-wingers cut Trump voters from their lives.
1. Just like our universities shut out conservative ideas and speakers, more and more individuals on the left now shut out conservative friends and relatives as well as conservative ideas.
2. Many, if not most, leftists have been indoctrinated with leftism their entire lives. This is easily shown. There are far more conservatives who read articles, who listen to and watch left-wing broadcasts, and who have studied under left-wing teachers than there are people on the left who have read, listened to, or watched anything of the Right or who have taken classes with conservative instructors.
As a result, those on the left really believe that those on the right are all SIXHIRB: sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, and bigoted. Not to mention misogynistic and transphobic.
3. Most left-wing positions are emotion-based. That’s a major reason people who hold leftist views will sever relations with people they previously cared for or even loved. Their emotions (in this case, irrational fear and hatred) simply overwhelm them. Discussing their differences for the purpose of finding commonalities with which they can use to maintain relationships no longer exists.
5. People on the right think that most people on the left are wrong; people on the left think that most people on the right are evil. Decades of labeling conservative positions as “hateful” and labeling conservative individuals as “sexist,” “intolerant,” “xenophobic,” “homophobic,” “racist,” and “bigoted” have had their desired effect.
6. The Left associates human decency not so much with personal integrity as with having correct — “progressive” — political positions. Therefore, if you don’t hold progressive positions, you lack decency. Ask your left-wing friends if they’d rather their high-school son or daughter cheat on tests or support Trump.
7. Most individuals on the left are irreligious, so the commandment “Honor your father and your mother” means nothing to those who have cut off relations with parents because they voted for Trump.
9. The Left tends toward totalitarianism. And every totalitarian ideology seeks to weaken the bonds between children and parents. The Left seeks to dilute parental authority and replace it with school authority and government authority. So when your children sever their bond with you because you voted for Trump, they are acting like the good totalitarians the Left has molded.
10. While there are kind and mean individuals on both sides of the political spectrum, as a result of all of the above, there are more mean people on the left than on the right. What other word than “mean” would anyone use to describe a daughter who banished her parents from their grandchildren’s lives because of their vote?
We’ll never see a reconciliation of differences between those on either side of the political aisle unless political leadership in the nation chooses that’s the correct path to take. Based on what we saw play out before, during, and after the State of the Union address, that is not likely anytime soon.
In the meantime, Americans will be forced to live in the vitriolic atmosphere of political discourse being uncomfortable at best, nasty and gut-wrenching at worst. How long this may last is nothing more than an assumption at this time. I’m not certain we’ll ever find commonalities again.
Yes, I said “again.” I remember that no so long ago those from both sides of the political perspective actually nurtured relationships with each other. They protected relationships and treated each other with tolerance and even respect for different opinions. Will the rift in the foundation of our Republic be repaired? Can in the interim the U.S. overcome the results of the hatred between political leaders to find consensus sufficient to govern? Can we ever again achieve political peace?
I’ll answer with my honest opinion: barring a drastic and traumatic event that impacts vast numbers of Americans, I do not see such reconciliation in my lifetime. Most of those “things” in 20th-century America that were the commonalities of unity are no longer present. People no longer look diligently for ways to concentrate on just commonalities understanding there are and always will be differences between us.
But that’s the magic of the success of our Republic. That’s how we deserved the moniker “The Melting Pot” for people from all nations, all religions, and all ethnicities. We embraced our differences. We welcomed diversity.
Some blame these issues on Mr. Trump; some on Hillary Clinton. Some blame political parties and others the Congress. The “Deep State” is also a labeled culprit. But here’s one thing that is a certainty: no matter what group or party or minority or individual might be eventually labeled “THE” Cause, it certainly did not originate from one person or group. And its existence has not been the fault of one person or group. The blame lies at the feet of every American.
Can we fix it? Can we resolve it? Can we pull back together in an environment of acceptance and understanding?
That is impossible unless we individually pick up the cause.