Unless you have gone off the grid completely you are aware that the current political environment in the United States has reached a significant milestone: the US Congress is beginning the impeachment trial of our 45th President, Donald J. Trump. While this is not the first impeachment our government has ever faced, it is the first impeachment of a Republican president. While President Trump has already been impeached by the House of Representatives, who satisfied their duties to the American People and to our governing Constitution of law, Congress now must decide whether there is enough evidence to officially remove the President from office and force him to relinquish his duties. To date, no United States President has been removed from office following impeachment.
When Mr. Trump began his campaign for the oval office, “The Huffington Post” reported news of his candidacy and continued efforts in the Entertainment section of the publication. The idea of Mr. Trump, who has no political or service to his country experience, seemed unfathomable. Such a man, driven by flamboyance, self-serving media drama, and desire for attention possibly serving as President of the United States of America could only be considered entertainment. Facing the former Secretary of State and previous First Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton, in the election seemed like a predictable win for Mrs. Clinton despite her husband’s own impeachment and some Americans’ belief that she was not fit to be President given the perception of, or even evidence of, her own previous and arguable political missteps. Yet, that fateful night in November 2016 saw most of America and the world glued to the media watching history being made: former Democrat and Clinton supporter and donor turned Republican Donald Trump winning the presidential election while losing the popular vote to Mrs. Clinton by a hefty 3 million votes. Little did anyone truly know or could anyone predict what was to come in the years that followed.
As news of hacking, Russian interference, political rivalries turned alliances, allegations of corruption, scandalous behaviors, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors, and other stories continued to break, the United States evolved to where we are today: facing The Great Divide and a new form of Polarity in America between political party lines. Republicans and Democrats have largely picked their side. The parties do not simply dislike each other: they hate each other and we as Americans are following suit. How did we get here?
In the days and weeks following the tragedies of September 11th 2001, there appeared an unspoken rule of compassion and kindness that many had never seen in their lifetime. It seemed that everyone knew someone who lost their life, everyone united in solidarity and strength for American values and love of country and fellow Americans. We waved each other on at intersections, we held doors, and strangers became our countrymen in these “United” States of America. It was good. It was love. While it would be impossible to forget that day of devastation, the way that we Americans treat each other has since been sadly forgotten.
The years of segregation between white and black Americans some 50 years ago that resulted in violence, deaths, destruction, hate groups, discrimination, and a huge stain on American history have continued to haunt the psyche of our Country. While we have evolved, while many Americans have forged ahead generationally towards acceptance of each other, and while the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a turning point for Americans no longer allowed to discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, we now face a new divide among Republican and Democrat Americans.
Turn to any social media and we are faced with emotionally charged, angrily tweeted, and hostile rants not only from our own President of the United States but from our fellow Americans name calling, accusing, and pointing fingers at each other on the basis of political affiliation. Who knew that political affiliation could make enemies of friends, could result in violent riots and oppositions fueled by such passionate beliefs of right and wrong as though there is some moral fortitude attached to Republican and Democrat associations similar to that of gangs in America. Sexual orientation which most argue also deserves its’ protections now faces increasing new pressures in the divide of political party agenda. American politicians are also flirting with, if not changing history yet again with a woman’s right to choose, the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, and reversing the legality of abortion. Are we in fact going backwards? Is it not only the government having no respect for the milestones we have made in our Freedom and what makes America great but also our lack of respect for each other and the hatred many express that is changing our social norms? This hatred for each other based on political party is certainly not making America great now, great again, or great ever. America has been great all along: American societal norms being predicated on the hatred and childish behavior of our President does not make America great again. When we can no longer have conversations at the dinner table with our families or at lunch with friends because such strong and passionate opinions lead to hurt feelings and the need to be “right” or “wrong” we are facing the reality that love is no longer our collective priority. The hatred between Democrat and Republican now extends beyond voting: it is personal, emotionally charged, hurtful, and visceral. Fear and anger now dominate our political culture. Can we ever love more and hate less again?
The impact of social media has validated disrespect for facts. The idea of “fake news” has become a term thrown in the face of others who find any alternative insight. No matter what the opinion, we have the power of the internet, cable news channels, and such to find only the sources of “fact” that align with our own forcing an echo chamber effect and leading to further self-fulfilling validation of beliefs no matter how skewed they may be from the truth, all the while trying to convince each other that one is right and the other is wrong. Nowhere is this easier to do than on social media where one can find passionate Republicans posting childish, and often violent memes of Democratic leaders being slapped, cartoons about Democrats being too stupid, and further outlandish and offensive propaganda means to support Republican domination. On the other hand, the passionate Democrats are the purveyors of cartoons and memes mocking Donald Trump, turning the spotlight onto the latest political circus attraction, and flaming the fires of Republican disagreement. Never have I seen so many angry emoji.
There is no arguing that our country is in unique political territory; but the question is how did we get to a place where The Scarlet R and The Royal D became the pre-eminent defining character traits at the detriment and expense of each other as Americans. How was permission to outwardly loathe on political party lines granted? Or was it? Underneath it all, are we simply so angry at what is happening in our country and in the world that we have created a subconscious fear and desire to blame and eviscerate “the other half.” There are many opinions on these questions and many sources of validation for each which makes it near impossible to separate fact from fiction. One fact remains: we are America, we are a nation that knows how to be great already, knows how to be the example on the world stage of freedom, respect, honor, resilience, intelligence, and love. America is a Democracy NOT a Democrazy. We do not need to make America great: we need to Be American Strong.