Divided

When Donald Trump won the election in 2016, I knew of several friends who celebrated with a glass of champagne.   In the last few days, I’ve heard of several doing the same to celebrate the victory of Joe Biden.   I will be skipping the champagne toast even though I voted for Joe Biden. As a moderate, I disagreed with some of President Trumps policies, just as I did those of his predecessor but my vote was predicated largely on the character (or lack thereof) of President Trump and his penchant for verbal or physical violence against what he saw as the other side.   But how can I celebrate when we are still a nation badly divided?

Just look at the 2020 election map and you will see a wide red swath of states that supported Trump this week.  If you drill down to the county level on many blue (or red) states you will see blue counties around the cities and red in the rural areas.  These red state and red county citizens constituted 47.7% of those who voted this year.  They are not all MAGA hat wearing, gun-toting fanatics as the media likes to portray them, or, as Hillary Clinton once described them, deplorables.  They are American citizens with a culturally different viewpoint than their urban counterparts.  They climbed on the Trump bandwagon because they felt ignored by what they saw as the Washington elite.  

President Elect Biden has promised to be a president for all the people. That will not be easy. The disregard, indeed the disrespect, of the political parties for each other has been mirrored by that of our citizenry. Obstructionism is a hallmark of our legislatures. I can count the number of people with whom I can discuss my moderate views without tumbling into an argument on my fingers. Our media has largely given up on news reporting, instead producing what Joe Ferullo of The Hill calls the tribal journalism of cable news. In an excellent opinion piece, he says, They can continue to aid and abet polarization in the search for profits or they can dial back and help shift the tone of the country. Social media is a swamp of unsubstantiated opinions and conspiracy theories.

Being more of a gentleman that Donald Trump, as Joe Biden certainly is, will not necessarily bring us together. After all, in part it was Barach Obama’s headlong march to the left that made enough rural voters feel disenfranchised enough to elect Trump in the first place. There is a substantial progressive movement in the country ready to insist that now that WE are in power, it is our turn. If that happens, the pendulum will swing the other way, and the 2022 election could shuffle the deck again. We the People need to hold our politicians feet to the fire to serve everyone, not just those who voted for them. We need to stop believing our favorite news sources and think critically. We need to stop insisting on our way or the highway. We need to stop looking to The Art of the Deal as a guide to negotiation and return to The Art of Compromise, realizing that in compromise, no one side is ever completely happy, but as a nation, we are better off. There is a concept … AS A NATION WE ARE BETTER OFF.

Put the champagne down, Dammit. Chuck the MAGA hats. WE have work to do.

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