As a child there are few things worse than watching your parents argue. I didn’t mind much if they argued with someone else, because I was clear on what side I was on, but when they argued with each other I couldn’t stand it.
As a paralegal working in family law I see the results of years and years of arguments and built up resentment. The situation blows up and the parties split. The house, cars, pensions are divvied between the two and they go their separate ways. That is easy to do with two people, but the process doesn’t translate to sovereign nations.
That’s currently how I feel right now, and how I have felt since January 20th – like I’m watching my parent’s argue over who forgot to take out the trash and I just want to get out of there as fast I can because the conversation is clearly disintegrating.
Prior to this presidential race, when people I spoke with divulged their political leanings they would say something like “well I’m socially a democrat, but fiscally conservative” or “I’m somewhere in the middle.”
Unfortunately for America, those sentiments have evaporated. People have floated to the extreme ends of the ideological spectrum and unapologetically dismantle anyone who expresses ideas that are to the right or left of where they stand.
Unlike marriage, when this conversation escalates and disintegrates, we cannot divorce the other side of the country, split our stuff, and go our separate ways. There are not “two America’s” and never have been. There is one America with millions of different people who come from all walks of life and hold different beliefs. We compromise and work together to get by. It seems we have traded that idea in for the divide and conquer rhetoric that has softly but persistently been in our ear.
We are currently in a crisis of hysteria, partially fueled by the media, a partisan institution that rarely reports news objectively. Part of this hysteria is the belief that people who voted differently from us must be fundamentally flawed as human beings. They aren’t just fellow countrymen who have differing political opinions, but instead are racists, sexists, and homophobes – words that have grave meaning, but are thrown around carelessly with no awareness of their actual definition.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for two years, spanning the entire presidential race, Trump’s inauguration, and his first weeks in office. Not once have I driven past a car with a Donald Trump bumper sticker on it. I have seen Hillary and Bernie bumpers stickers in every shape, size, color, and texture in every variety they are made, but not one Trump sticker. I think bumper stickers are tacky so I never thought much about it. But then the reason occurred to me – self-preservation. A city this big is sure to have its fair share of Trump supporters. But the lonely Trump supporter in Los Angeles doesn’t want his car keyed and windows smashed in.
I lean to the left politically, but I understand that person’s plight. I laugh at politically incorrect jokes under my breath, and keep my thoughts about my high taxes to myself for fear of the thought police jumping out of a palm tree to berate me.
The opposite can be said for the liberal outposts in red states and neither is right. The most attractive thing about America is freedom – freedom of speech, ideas, and the freedom to disagree with one another. We have strayed from that in a fit of hysteria.
The person I voted for on Election Day did not win. I am not thrilled with the president or the policies he has put forth, but believe that the people who did vote for him, did so based on reasons they felt were important or logical. That’s just the way it is in a free democratic country. Sometimes your guy wins, sometimes he doesn’t.
We can change our president every four years, our congressmen every two, but the us vs. them mindset is the drop of poison that can spoil the well permanently.