Most Americans are not too involved in politics. For the most part, we don’t tend to follow what is being discussed in Congress or the White House too closely, other than, perhaps, during a Presidential Election year. It’s hard to miss it then; because, TV coverage seems to be virtually continuous. For the most part, politics is local in America. We want to know: who will represent us in Congress, the State Legislature, and as Mayor, Sheriff, etc. And of course, the occasional ballot issues that might be important to us.
This year, however, the Presidential Election was ugly. Both sides participated in the “mud-slinging”; however, Donald Trump seemed to take particular delight in making on-going, vicious personal attacks on Secretary Hillary Clinton and her husband, Former President Bill Clinton. Candidate Trump showed no respect for President Barack Obama, questioning his American Citizenship, right up until just before the election, and he also seemed to take pleasure in castigating just about every one of President Obama’s policy decisions or programs.
Candidate Trump focused his travels on middle class, White cities and towns that had high unemployment rates, and which appeared to have limited employment opportunities. He vowed that he, and only he, could fix their problems. Initially, he attacked the Mexicans, said that he would build a Wall to keep illegal immigrants from crossing our Southern Border, and also seemed to suggest that “They” were taking all the jobs away from Americans.
Eventually, Donald Trump expanded his attacks, to include virtually any demographic segment of our population that wasn’t White. It was easier to sell his story to the White people by expanding his target enemy base. Many in his small-town audiences bought into his story, and became some of his most ardent supporters. All this is just standard demagogue strategy: “Divide and Conquer!”
Others, who heard Mr. Trump’s story, whether in person or on TV, had misgivings about his Cause and Effect rationale. Hadn’t that local plant and/or steel mill headed down south when they were still in grade school, and didn’t they read about robots and new technology, ages ago? Once doubt enters into the minds of a snake-oil salesman’s audience, that sale often goes unmade. That’s when today’s doubters do a computer check, and they don’t find much about Donald J. Trump, other than: Money; Women, and Donald!
During the Republican Primaries, the Trump supporters were cheering him on, while the doubters were hoping for another GOP candidate—Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, John Kasich or Marco Rubio—to knock him off. Ironically, as Donald Trump said one more dumb thing after another, or one more offensive past deed was revealed, Donald just seemed to escape more times than Indiana Jones, on his worst day.
So, it has now been two and a half months since the Election and, although the divisiveness is not as blatant as it had been, there is still a common “We versus They” attitude among many Americans today. The opinions of the two groups still manage to reflected in the “Letters to the Editor” sections of local newspapers. Letters from Supporters of Donald Trump, read something like this: “Get over it, Trump is your President now, show him some respect, and give him a chance.,” and Doubters read somewhat as follows: “He’s not my President, he offended everyone in America and, now he has invented ‘Alternative Facts, in order to lie!’”
Somebody asked me on Monday if I thought we’d be at war. I told her that I don’t think so: I certainly hope not! But, with the more time that I have spent on this post, I just don’t think that the election aftermath is going to blow over anytime soon. While the undercurrents from the Election are evident, but existing just under the radar, maybe it would be best to bring it out in the open, and clear the air in order to maintain friendships.
Consider suggesting to people you know–friends, co-workers, neighbors–that you might discuss the current attitude in America, in the wake of the November Election. You don’t even need to get into the issues, or who’s right or wrong, but “How do we remain our friendship?” If the grudge, on whichever side is more important, so be it! But, it can be less stressful to know that people, who were friends before the Election, can respectfully remain friends afterward–even though their views may differ.
There have always been acts of racism committed in the pat; however, recently Black Churches, Synagogues and Mosques have been firebombed, vandalized or defaced with graffiti. Lately, however, such acts have become more frequent, and more explosive. It might be worthwhile for people in the local community, who are equally appalled, to contact these groups, perhaps attend one of their functions, and let them know that you definitely welcome them to the Community!
It’s just too bad that we don’t currently have a True Leader in the White House, who would take this issue head-on. The Presidential “Bully Pulpit” is the strongest possible medicine for hatred and divisiveness!