Mark wonders why there is so much hatred and if America is beyond saving.
“Holy hyper-partisanship Batman! Our democracy is seriously dysfunctional and we’re in danger of losing our nation because our system is broken. Can you fix it Batman?”
It’s that time again folks. It occurs every four years. The nation looks for someone we can believe in….a superhero that can heal the unprecedented level of political animosity that’s turned us into warring tribes rather than united Americans who go about their lives in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
Enter the political candidates. This time it’s Trump and Biden. Different people saying the same things every four years. Mostly bullshit by the way and I confess that, I too, like many of you, tend to throw caution to the wind and get sucked into the belief that there is someone out there who can heal the polarization that has become America’s Achilles heel. The usual promise is to unite us; to bring the warring factions together because, well, only they have some kind of superpower that the other candidate doesn’t. And we find ourselves hopeful yet again.
I found myself wondering recently if Democrats and Republicans have always hated each other the way they do now. Don’t bother arguing the hate thing with me. It’s pure hatred folks. A 2019 study found that over 42% of both parties view the opposition as not just misguided and mistaken, but downright evil.( Lethal Mass Partisanship. )
The study found that one in five Republicans and Democrats agree with the statement that their political adversaries “lack the traits to be considered fully human….they behave like animals.”
When asked “Do you ever think we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party today just died”? 20 percent of Democrats and 16 percent of Republicans said yes they think that way sometimes.
And if that’s not enough to make you believe we need a superhero, the study asked “What if the opposing party wins the 2020 presidential election? How much do you feel violence would be justified then? 18.3 percent of Democrats and 13.8 percent of Republicans said violence would be justified on a scale ranging from “a little” to “a lot.”
Holy e plurbus unum Batman!
If it’s any solace for you, history tells us that presidential elections have caused hateful rhetoric since the very beginning of our republic. For example, several states threatened to call out their militias in the contentious election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800 and, by 1850, members of congress were making death threats against one another and engaging in fistfights. How cool is that? If only television news existed then. That I would watch!
So in these contentious and uncertain times, let me provide you with a ray of hope. A sliver of faith if you will. I believe we’re not so much at the precipice of disaster like many in the media would have you believing with their non-stop fear porn, but rather at a tipping point. If our enemies are, in fact, polarization and dysfunction, there are signs that Americans have gotten wise to it and are looking for something truly different. It’s the very reason that Donald Trump got elected. He said it himself. “What do you have to lose?” Many Americans thought that made sense and they were willing to give it a whirl.
We’re experimenting a bit with our democracy lately by doing our best to put our own checks and balances in place. Status quo? Not so fast Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell. 93% of Americans are fed up. They see politics as being disproportionately dominated by special interests and as someone who’s actually been to Washington DC to lobby congress on behalf of health care providers, I can tell you America is correct. If you can’t write a check you don’t get a voice. Beyond that, 60% say that both parties are out of touch with the country. 57% say there’s a need for a major third party. There’s a wave coming and I expect it’ll surprise many in Washington DC.
The election this November will come and go and we’ll be reminded, once again, that our challenges can’t and won’t be solved in a single election cycle but perhaps can be solved if we work a little harder to hear each other without pronouncing the opposing view as evil, or stupid. This problem didn’t start with Trump and it won’t end with him either. Let’s stop looking for the superhero we all get suckered into buying into and let’s start believing in our own power to find a common purpose and to elect people who will prioritize that ideal. Then hold them accountable. And for the love of god, stop consuming so much media. It’s making us all mental. That’s our true Achilles Heel.
Yes, I know. Pandemics, protests, politics. It’s a lot to handle right now but America has been through worse. We’ve always emerged stronger and wiser. Trust ol’ Uncle Mark. We will again.
Thanks Batman….but we’ve got this.