On this Independence Day, it would be wonderful to say that our nation is stronger and more united than ever.
It would be wonderful to say that, but it would also be untrue, unfortunately. The game of partisan politics hasn’t simply limited meaningful progress in the upper levels of government. It has also driven a deep chasm between the citizens.
A recent NPR/PBS Marist College poll seems to highlight that divide.
Seventy percent of respondents said that tensions between Democrats and Republicans have deteriorated further under the Trump administration. 20 percent said it has remained about the same, while only 6 percent said that it had improved, the poll found.
By comparison, 35 percent of Americans said they thought partisan tensions worsened after former President Barack Obama was elected in 2008.
This is where I have to point out the obvious and remind everyone that while “Hope and Change” made for great election rhetoric, by the time Obama was done razing this nation, assaulting religious freedoms and exacerbating racial tensions to pre-Civil Rights levels, those partisan tensions were likely much, much higher.
In fact, a good argument could be made for the Obama presidency being a direct cause of a Trump presidency.
An extreme pushed back against eight years of another extreme.
While respondents who identified as Democrats were most likely to say that the divide has grown since Trump’s election – 81 percent – the sentiment was pronounced across party lines. Nearly two-thirds – 65 percent – of Republicans said they think partisan strain has gotten worse, and 70 percent of independents said the same.
The fundamental misunderstanding is that the other side – whichever side that may be for you – is out to destroy the nation in one manner or another.
That’s not true. It doesn’t make sense to say anyone wants to destroy the very land they live in. It’s human nature to want to live comfortably.
The problem is that each side thinks they have the better idea about how to create the perfect nation, and they can’t all be right.
When was the last time Republicans and Democrats came firmly together on an important issue?
Was it healthcare? Climate change? The federal deficit?
Yeah. I can’t think of anything, either.
The poll also found dwindling faith among Americans in the nation’s institutions. 37 percent said they have confidence in the Trump administration, 29 percent in Congress. Similarly low is the American public’s faith in the media – 30 percent – and public opinion polls – 35 percent.
They don’t even trust the polls polling them about issues.
That’s pretty bad, actually.
I don’t even know if it’s possible to get back to a place where Americans can come together as a unified people. It would certainly be nice if we could.
Our nation has too quickly put aside Biblical teachings (another issue we have trouble coalescing around). Abraham Lincoln said in 1858, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Lincoln’s words were a paraphrase of Matthew 12:25, “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.’ “
This is the danger hyper-partisanship, and an administration that constantly pushes the “Us vs. Them” claptrap provokes.
We can only pray the people wake up before it’s too late.