America is on the road of increasing internal conflict centered around our partisan divide. There are many contributing factors that feed into the escalation of this partisan rhetoric and division.
Every day we’re subjected to a barrage of commentary from a 24-hour news cycle that won’t let us forget about our divisions, and where, in fact, some elements thrive on divisiveness and even foster its growth. As news outlets fracture into left-leaning and right-leaning entities that pander to a specific base, the focus on fact is overshadowed by the need to drive a narrative that validates their viewers’ opinions.
Additionally, the influx of money into our political elections is further driving a wedge in our nation. Before the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the nation’s campaign finance system was already serving to divide the country into those with political voice – the rich – and those without political voice – everyone else. But since the Citizens United decision, the division has exploded. It’s led to policies that are extending the vastly unequal distribution of wealth in this country through tax policies that greatly benefit the wealthy and do little for the majority of Americans. The blame for this wealth disparity is then shifted, oftentimes targeting immigrant and so-called “overregulation,” and then used as a scapegoat by these partisan news organizations.
And while we’re battling against domestic obstacles, there are also outside forces working to fracture our nation. The Russian government, led by a former KGB officer, has long harbored animosity toward the U.S. They have honed their capabilities to export mistrust and discord, and Vladimir Putin has found the most opportune time to strike. With the likes of Fox News sewing anger and distrust in our country for a quarter century now, the Russian government is taking advantage of our home-grown industry of inciting anger to weigh in with their own highly capable methods.
The culmination of all of this is the Trump presidency. Donald Trump’s ascension to the leader of the Republican Party came from his bombast and “straight talk” that spoke to people’s anger, and like a virus it has spread through the Party. He uses manipulation and intimidation to achieve his goals, appealing to religious ideals when it suits his needs – despite glaring contradictions in his behavior – and bullying members of his own party into subservience. Negative information that casts him in a poor light is quickly tweeted about as “fake news” as he continues to cast doubt about the legitimacy of reports that do not come directly from him.
At rallies, the President continues to fan the flames of his followers’ anger, calling for an end to the investigation of the possibility that he colluded with the Russian government to win the Presidency in 2016. This furthers his quest to sow the seeds of distrust in the American government and widen the political divide. Should the results of this investigation endanger his presidency, he has already secured the steadfast support of his base who will vehemently defend him at the expense of our democratic system.
Conflict may not be inevitable, but it is clear that current circumstances are driving our country down a path that is more likely to lead to future strife. But, I believe there is still time for both sides to listen to one another, and while we may not completely agree, the simple act of acknowledgement goes a long way. In the end, compromise is the best way to achieve mutually beneficial goals and objectives. Our political system and our future depend upon it.