Though it may not feel like it, we are not seeing the most turbulent time in American politics. No one alive was there, but I’m pretty sure that the political upheaval just before or during the American Civil War was worse than this.
Maybe not by much, though.
America is undoubtedly tearing itself apart, and we’re watching it happen on social media, which might make it worse. Everyone on every feed seems to have a political pundit telling them whom to believe, whom to harass, and whom to silence. None of that is good for our republic.
We are divided, more than we’ve been in over a century. And it’s not going to get better, not while we keep treating the “other side” as enemies.
Seeing those you disagree with as an opponent may not seem like a problem when you’re in the middle of a heated argument, but it becomes a big problem when you consider the fact that we all live in the same country, sometimes in the same cities or even in the same home.
Enemies cannot coexist. They don’t share.
Americans can’t afford to be enemies
If you don’t care about finding common ground, only looking to win your argument, then you’ve chosen an allegiance, and “America” is unfortunately not it.
Does that mean we can’t disagree? Of course not. But America is like a married couple. Unless states secede from the federal government, we are still living together under the same rule. At the end of the day, though we may argue, we have to find common ground.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. — Abraham Lincoln
What’s the alternative? War. Taken to the end, without any compromises on both sides, that’s the only way enemies can settle their differences. One must be defeated.
We see evidence of this in the Middle East. We saw it in our own past. We can read about it in history. Unfortunately, we are not learning.
If we continue down this road, we will cease to be among the world’s superpowers. We may cease to exist as a whole nation with all 50 states. During the only civil war in our history, we were still building our country — the West was still wild, and Nevada wasn’t even a state when the war began.
We may cease to exist as a complete nation with all 50 states.
Now, we are more or less stable, geographically speaking, but we’ve never been more willing to part from one another. After every election, people post memes of which states they’d like to separate from the nation. If we go to war, you can bet that some of that will happen.
Be willing to come to the table and listen
No one with any sense wants a civil war. But we’re playing with the gloves off. We’re allowing the rules of engagement, basic morality, to become non-existent when it benefits our side.
One instance would be the silencing of conservative voices when social media companies act against them. Another is when conservatives go back on their word and vote in a Supreme Court justice days before an election.
We’re allowing the rules of engagement, basic morality, to become non-existent when it benefits our side.
Neither side has any moral high ground to speak of. Both show signs of fascism, both use identity politics. They are stabbing each other in the back, left and right. What’s not okay for their opposition is okay for them a few months later.
How can such vehemence hope to come together in the end?
The only way forward is for a conservative to stand up for a liberal who’s suffered injustice and for liberals to do the same when conservatives are silenced. Both sides need to abide by rules of honor and integrity, or else what the hell are you even fighting for? Might as well burn it all to the ground and start anew.
If you consider the other side an enemy, you’ll never find common ground. Peace is made over a table, not a battlefield.