There is no denying that our nation is as politically divided as it has ever been – at least back to the 1860s when Americans were actually shooting at one another. Sadly, some argue it might even take another Civil War before we can actually heal the divide, as neither side seems all that willing to concede, well, anything.
The only thing that the extreme elements on both sides even have in common is that the end of the United States is nigh!
One side has argued that the United States is on the cusp of a coup, warning that President Donald Trump won’t leave office willingly and that we risk a fascist dictatorship. This line of thinking fails to take into account that the President would need the support of key lawmakers, the courts, the military, and likely the intelligence community. The reason our great American experiment won’t die so easily is that it is unlikely that even the most popular leader could gain the support of all of those elements.
The other side has warned that President-Elect Joe Biden will pack the Supreme Court with liberal justices, add numerous states to ensure the Democrats control the Senate forever, and will take the country to extreme socialism within a decade. This is just as unlikely to happen – and if anything Biden will likely be unable to appease the centralists and extreme progressives in his own party. Moreover, the Democrats may have rallied together had Biden lost, but in victory, he may have to battle his own party as well as the opposition.
If you listen to all the vitriol commentary playing out on the cable news channels or turn to social media to see what is trending, it is clear that America is truly divided on so many issues. But the view from the middle shows that both sides need to give…a lot if we ever hope to heal the divide.
It Isn’t Sedition
The root of the problem goes way beyond the election. It was clear whichever side won there would remain a deeply divided nation. Half the country was always going to be unhappy, and there is no denying that Trump’s refusal to concede has made matters worse.
But he is hardly the first Presidential candidate to put up a fight. The election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden was for one for the books, while few of us can forget how the Supreme Court had to decide the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
Yet, 2016 was quite the contentious race as well – and even before Trump took office the rallying cries from the left, “Not my President,” began.
Fast forward to now and there currently are calls from GOP leaders to investigate the 2020 election and to ensure that there weren’t widespread voter irregularities. Those calls are being labeled seditious and treasonous – with suggestions that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not seat those duly elected Republican Representatives who continue to support Trump.
We must be reminded: didn’t the Democrats in the House call for similar investigations of Russian interference after the 2016 election? It has been stated that the election was secure and that our voting process couldn’t be compromised so how was it that Russia “interfered” to support Trump four years earlier?
While there remains no proof that there was voter tampering or widespread fraud this time around, there were plenty of concerns in advance of the November elections. Perhaps given those facts, it is worth exploring the results to make absolutely certain of the integrity of the election.
Likewise, perhaps the words “sedition” and “treason” shouldn’t be so easily cast at our elected officials, especially since it wasn’t all that long ago that some members of Congress openly questioned the very legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 victory. The late Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) said he never saw Trump as a legitimate president, but few would cast Lewis as a traitor.
Far from it, Rep. Lewis was lauded a hero for standing up to a would-be tyrant.
Turnabout should be fair play, but to liberals in the United States, it doesn’t work that way. Liberals saw and continue to see Trump as a threat, so it was and is patriotic to be a part of the resistance.
Now that the election has passed, and in particular in a few weeks, however, question President-elect Biden and suddenly that is seditious.
Truth be told, liberals largely started this tactic of labeling Republican leaders as illegitimate since that contentious election of George W. Bush in 2000. Even after President Bush was “re-elected” in 2004 – rather than “re-defeated” as his opponents hoped – he was never given the respect the office deserves, and that created this tiresome cycle where nearly half the country isn’t just disappointed.
No, it created new movements such as the Tea Party and Antifa. If you’re not in power then you’ll do whatever you can to reclaim your representative seat at the table. There is some irony that Antifa uses the same street thug tactics as the brown shirts that worked to put the Nazi party in power in Germany but yet claims to be anti-fascist.
But that is another problem with liberal movements. It is never enough for them to protest, many feel compelled to silence the other side in the name of freedom. If a right-wing group holds any rally it has to be met with a counter-protest. How is that supporting freedom?
Calls for Unity
There is no denying as well that the calls to overturn the result of the election are wrong. While it wasn’t a landslide, the voters made their choice clear, but just as with 2008, the left needs to understand that this didn’t mean the country is going to toss aside its core values either.
In the 2020 election it is true that Joe Biden received more votes than any previous candidate in our nation’s long history, but so too did Donald Trump. Seventy-four million people went with Trump – not exactly an insignificant number and again more than any previous victor or loser.
Moreover, at least one hundred million eligible voters didn’t cast a vote for either candidate. That is a point lost by both sides in every election and it speaks volumes to how disenfranchised much of the country feels.
Another point that can’t be overlooked is that neither the right nor left made any calls for unity prior to the election. Sure, we saw various supporters of Biden calling for unity after he won. Actress/activist Alyssa Milano was among many who took to social media to offer a proverbial olive branch and call for unity.
Sorry, Ms. Milano, it is doubtful you or any others calling for unity now would have reached out to an olive branch extended from the right had Trump won. Instead, those individuals would have happily remained part of the resistance, with it being the patriotic thing to do after all.
Such calls for unity are hollow. There is no wonder that Trump supporters are unwilling to respond and unwilling to accept defeat. Should we have expected anything different?
Part of the problem is that even President-Elect Biden – with his faux blue-collar act – clearly doesn’t believe in unity. He wants unwavering support – just as President Trump wanted and expected, which also explains why Trump lost. You can’t extend the olive branch after you’ve defeated your opponent.
Yet, in Biden’s case, he was so very disingenuous in victory.
Biden may have said “there are no red states or blue states, only the United States,” which is a point those making the call for unity like to address. But rewind the tape a bit. Biden, in his victory speech, also talked about “rebuilding the blue wall of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.” It is hard to accept there are no blue states when he literally a minute earlier said there was a blue wall that brought his victory.
So which is it, is there a blue wall or is there only the United States because really, how can you have both?
This may seem petty to bring up, but that’s another point – Biden is a self-declared “gaffe machine” who misspeaks as often as he opens his mouth. He gets a pass. Consider all of the times Trump was called out for his tweets – but also remember all the time George W. Bush was called out for his gaffes. It was fodder not only for late-night TV hosts in their monologs but was covered by the media. Will that media call out Biden’s gaffes?
Democracy Will Be Fine
The important truth is there aren’t really blue states, there aren’t really red states – there are segments of all the states that are red or blue and that is part of our changing nation.
Biden may have won Arizona and Georgia this cycle, but it wasn’t that long ago that Missouri was a solid blue state that turned bright red. There was a time when the South voted Democrat and California and New York went for Reagan.
Seventy-four million people cast their vote for Trump not because they want a fascist dictator but because they wanted four more years of his economic policies that led to the lowest unemployment rates the country has seen prior to the pandemic. Eighty million voters cast their vote and elected Biden not because they want a socialist state, but because they were unhappy with Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
We must remember that since World War II it has largely been a back and forth between parties in terms of control of the White House. The twelve-year Reagan-Bush era was the longest time that one party maintained control of the Executive Branch, while Carter and Trump will go down as the two cases (so far) in which that control is limited to a single term.
Since 1992, we’ve seen a routine flipping of the House and Senate, and there is little indication it is likely to change. The reason is that both sides have dug in and there is a small minority in the middle that doesn’t like the way things are going and their votes are the ones that matter in the end.
If there is a lesson of 2020 that is important to note, it is that Biden and Trump managed to get more of those voters to turn out. Yet, still more people remained so uninterested in either candidate that they didn’t vote. Until we have an election where one candidate can get more votes than those who choose not to vote, neither side can really claim to have the support of the majority of Americans.
And that is why we’re likely to remain so bitterly divided.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.