Towards the end of 2016 I wrote a book called Divided Patriotism and in this book I talked about how divided we are as Americans on everything from race to equality to our views on things like gun control and even education, abortion, and healthcare. I wrote this book to show how right wing groups and people like to divide us, I had no idea when it was published that we would become even more divided just six months later. Today we are the most divided we have been perhaps in our history and it appears that it is only going to get worse as time goes on.
I know, many Republicans will say that it is liberals who divide and my work as a blogger, writer, and activist is divisive and my politics divide people but to that I say no, I do not divide people but what I do in fact do is point out the walls the right builds and the ways they try to separate people into these groups. What they do is seek to create an America that is less diverse and less based on equality while we want to have a country built on helping others and acceptance. Those on the right say that we liberals as the tolerant party do not seem very tolerant and to that I say that we are but we do not have to tolerate intolerance.
We accept everyone for who they are, we call out bad behavior while they judge people for who they are, who they love, and who they worship and that is not tolerant and is in fact very divisive. I want us to be a more united nation but with the rise of Donald Trump that appears to be less and less of a possibility and that is very sad. I remember fondly the morning and afternoon of September 11th, 2001 and on that day we were perhaps the most united we have ever been or ever will be. I was with my son that morning and had just dropped him off to daycare when the towers were hit, that was a dark morning in our history and one I will never forget. I will remember it for its pure horror and the lives taken that day but more than that I will recall that day to my memory to look back on the courage and unity we shared as Americans that fateful September morning.
On that day we were not Democrats or Republicans, we were not Bostonians or New Yorkers, we were not black or white, or better or less than but we were united brothers and sisters who were there for each other in a very dark time in our history. I remember how people cared for each other that day and it did not matter what your politics were, what was important that we stood up for each other and didn’t blame anyone, we just loved like we should. I gave blood that day and remember waiting at the blood bank in Florida to do so and seeing the tragedy on TV but more than that I remember seeing the hugs, smiles, and the helpfulness of our citizens. That was a hopeful time because as bad as what happened that day was, we knew who we were as countrymen and we knew that we would be okay as long as we believed in each other and supported one another no matter what.
Now, we are no longer like that and the way we treat each other is at times downright disturbing. I include myself in that, I am not perfect or blameless in any of this and neither are you. Each one of us have succumb to this us vs them attitude and it is driving us further apart instead of bringing us closer together. This has gone on for so long but it has reached new levels after the rise of Donald Trump. Republicans say that Obama was the great divider but he was actually the one who tried to bring us closer together and make us a much more unified nation once again but the hatred and racism towards him was what divided us, not his or his great work of trying to unite people and bring them together as one.
Today we are as divided as a country can be and that is all due to the extreme divisiveness spread by not only Donald Trump but his fans and the far right wing media and others on the very extreme right. We saw during Obama’s years in office how networks like Fox News and Infowars and their cult leader Alex Jones would divide us into right vs left and attack Obama and the left causing this deep division that we see now and of course we reacted and divided back. This was not the best response we could have had to the divide they caused but it is what it is, now what we must do as Americans is try to heal our divides and learn to be fellow citizens once again. I would really like to see this but the sad reality is that we will never agree on the issues that split us into two Americas, the best we can hope for is to be civil and try not to hate each other, co-exist as they say.
Trump wants it to be “The winners” vs “The losers” not ALL Americans and he has even said this on a few different occasions, he has said that we are on the winning side and that says all we need to know about this man or the America that he seeks to create. This is what has happened since he won, it was there before but the divide is now the deepest I can remember in my 42 years on this planet living in this country. I have been to other countries and the divide is almost unheard of, they treat each other with respect and politics isn’t a big thing, the way it should be perhaps. I always say about Trump and his many supporters that they do not care about America, they only care about being on the winning side and this also says all we need to know about who they are and where they stand.
As I wrote about in Divided Patriotism, we are so divided on these core issues that it may be impossible for us to ever see eye to eye, the best that we can hope for is to come to some agreement on parts of these issues and try to respectfully disagree without the name calling and vindictiveness. That is the best possible outcome when it comes to these deep divisions because at the end of the day we are still fellow citizens and should act like it. I react to how these people act and the things they say in ways that I am not always proud of but these are some really important issues and when lives are involved and when civil rights are at stake then sometimes people react angrily and say things that maybe they should not say. I know that I try to hold my tongue but at times I am unable to do so and things get heated in debates with people in right wing circles. The divisions that exist are often deep rooted beliefs that we have had for decades and decades and often are a result of our upbringing and where we are from so we hold on to them and have passion for our values and core belief system.
The issues are not little ones, these are important things that both sides care about but in my very humble opinion I believe that the views of we progressives are what is correct and we must fight for our beliefs, that isn’t meant to try and divide us more but to fight for vital values such as equality, public safety, and compassion. That is the country that I know and the reason we on the left fight against what they are trying to do is because we have this vison of what America should be and we try to prevent it from going in the opposite direction. I would use a few examples of how we are divided on the core issues really briefly so people can understand just how difficult the divide can be to penetrate.
One of these core issues is the issue of guns, in America people love their guns and will do anything to keep them even if it means sacrificing innocent lives so they can keep those guns. This is one of my more passionate issues and one of the most divisive ones our nation faces too, not one that can be solved over night that is for sure. I believe that the reason for gun ownership is in many cases based on fear and the reason for gun control also is based on fear but a different type of fear. The gun people fear losing their weapons while we fear losing lives to guns, vastly different. This is an issue that has a lot of divide between the two sides but not the only issue we are divide on, not even close. We are divided on race and we see that with the racism that exists in all groups across this country and how some races think they are superior to others. That is a divide that has existed for so long and while we have made much progress, there is so much more to do.
The issues are almost never-ending with how we are on opposite ends and range from equality within the LGBT community, religion, immigration, income and poverty, war and other foreign policy issues, and much more. There are so many areas that we areas that we do not see eye to eye on and where we differ and all of these issues are of equal importance. I believe that we need to hear each other and look at the big picture before passing judgement but that is often easier said than done. I also believe that both sides have different reasons or goals for the way things are divided and this shows what each side stands for and what they are about. The right generally divides to segregate and harm people, all of their policies have one goal and that is to help certain groups of people while hurting other groups of people and we see this on race, guns, LGBT and women’s rights, income equality, and so much more while we see the left helping those groups and working for policies that help the citizens of this country as well as people all across the world.
We are a divided people, we are a nation that is split in two and for that to change we must know why we are divided to change and heal these divisions and that is a tall task. Unity is the goal but that goal became much more difficult on November 8th when Trump took office as if we do not have a president who seeks to unite everyone then unity becomes rather impossible and that is what we are currently seeing. Obama and even Bush focused on unity as a country and trying to lift each other up rather than tearing them down and we saw this with these past presidents on so many occasions.
Look at Obama, he was always trying to give us hope and tell us what we could do as one country and as one people and even Bush said after 9/11 that United we stand and United we fall, he knew that even though we were attacked by savages that we don’t blame the peaceful religion of Islam, and instead we treat them with love and try to find out who did that horrific act. These presidents knew what unity was and they did their very best to lift us up and bring us closer together, not drive us apart. This is very different than what we are seeing now, our president now wants to do things to separate us like build walls, ban people, deport families, and further create a gap in class and race that only hurts our people. The division will likely continue for some time and that is something that is truly shameful because nations should unite as one country rather than fight against each other as two. If you have seen any Trump rally, any episode of Sean Hannity, or liberal protest fighting against these harmful messages then you know that we are as far away from uniting as one country as we ever have been and the future is quite frankly uncertain for us all.