A year ago today, I was living in America’s capital and managed to bear witness to one of the most interesting – and, let’s be honest, probably very consequential – moments in our history.
President Donald J. Trump was sworn into office, shocking the globe, media analysts across the broadcasting and publishing spectrum and dealing a serious blow to what bipartisanship is left.
I saw a lot of moments on that day. There were colorful marijuana activists, black clad rioters running around and smashing windows at random, smarmy individuals who came to gloat and despondent people who expected a new Clinton administration and were deeply grieving its loss.
Through all of that, one thing stood out. With the exception of a few individuals, no one was happy to be in the presence of those who had a different opinion than them on the outcome of the election. If you liked the Republican candidate, you’d get spat on. If you were in favor of Democratic individuals, someone would accuse you of being a crooked and evil individual. Calls of “Bitch”, “Asshole” and “Prick” rang through the urban canyons frequently as the day went on.
And in the midst of it all, there I was, the impartial observer. Despite what some may think, I take my middle ground seriously (I don’t even vote, lest that seem like I am taking a side.) and find that as the years have gone on I am on an island in a sea of deadly ideological positions. I don’t know how we got here – perhaps it began with Bill Clinton – but to see it get worse kills me. America was built on compromises and cooperation, but these days that has withered to dust.
On Facebook, my friends of leftist and rightist perspectives behave in ways they would swiftly condemn in others they disagree with politically and at times can be reminiscent of toddlers.
When my liberal friend removes any comments of alternate but factual positions on links he posts and states there can be “no debate” and my conservative friend says she can not think of anything she’d have in common with someone who supported “Uncle Bernie (Sanders)”, that’s a problem. Our society needs an exchange of ideas to thrive and, according to data, the majority of Americans believe immigrants like myself make the nation stronger and that the tax code’s complexity, wealthy people and corporations not paying their fare share contributes to economic issues in our society. Why can’t we come together on these things? Because of ideology, thinking a liberal is always right or that a conservative is always right inhibits problem solving.
And now – thanks to the polarizing views of the president – we’re seeing that at the federal level. Schumer and McConnell can’t agree on anything and as a result, the lives of good people who didn’t choose to come here and poor children who need insurance are used as bargaining chips.
For the good of the country, this shit has to stop. I don’t know what I can do other than tell you the truth and – when I call out ideologues, including my peers – fend off their criticisms. It’ll take a while to get back to where we were, but in time, I believe the nation can reach that high.