To say our country is divided, would be a massive understatement. Every issue is treated as if it is of the severity of nuclear war, and most of us are far too emotional to take the time and digest the finer points. We live in a time where the unholy trio of clickbait headlines, fake news, and social media has created a culture of constant fear and anxiety. When you add vicious partisanship to the fold, nobody knows which way is up anymore. This confusion leads them to look for someone to condense news and politics into something they can digest, and from there, AM radio talking heads and the Alex Jones’ of the world feast on the insecurity and fear of their new listeners.
How can this end well?
How we got here as a nation is a twisted path of lies, scandal, money, revenge, and the great understanding that conflict creates interest. As long as these people can convince you that your number one enemy is THE OTHER guy, they will get listeners. Once rational human beings will stop checking facts and digging deeper into pressing issues in favor of taking on the talking points of their favorite personality.
At one point in time, Rush Limbaugh told his loyal base that government spending is the greatest threat to our nation and that Barack Obama will be setting Americans up for failure with his reckless deficit spending, and now Rush openly tells his listeners that the debt doesn’t matter anymore. Once upon a time, every voice on the left was calling Bush a “war criminal” only to later find themselves supporting Barack Obama’s Middle East and North African policies.
There really are no arguments made on principle and political legacy from mainstream sources anymore. Each side chooses to whitewash the good they don’t want to acknowledge while promoting whatever accomplishments fit their current ideology. Ronald Reagan lowered taxes, broke up public-sector unions, and gave amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants and VISA overstays. He also escalated the drug war, bowed down to the military-industrial complex, and brought religion further into politics, sowing the seeds for future division.
Barack Obama expanded gun rights in national parks, opened up relations with Cuba, reduced the racially biased mandatory minimum on crack cocaine, and instructed his Department of Justice to stand back while states legalized marijuana. He also increased border rejections, signed a law which allowed for greater US government propaganda to be deployed domestically, and absolutely failed on his promise to stop warrantless wiretapping. Despite these varied records, these men are ranked highly by conservatives and liberals, respectively. This failure to be honest and stick to principles is what created the conditions for Donald Trump, and Trump has shown us just how divided we are.
Nearly every poll taken regarding Donald Trump or the two major political parties is a near 50/50 split. In so many ways, Americans are perfectly divided as very different people, and that perceived gap is only widening as rural voters go further under the spell of Donald Trump and suburban women move further left. The story of the 2018 midterm election was just how different we are based on geography. States, where working-class democrats use to have a chance, are now Republican strongholds, with deep red states keeping the Senate in the Republicans favor, despite losing the national popular vote in 2016 by millions. The suburbs, where educated white families used to be a reliable Republican base, have moved towards the Democrat Party as Trump’s easily disproven claims have been embraced as gospel. It is urban vs rural, educated vs working class, and red vs blue.
And, unfortunately, that divide is treated like Thunderdome.
Recently, in Boulder, Colorado (which is near my hometown), they passed a law regarding local firearm registration. For any person who strongly believes in civil liberties and the right to self-defense, there are only two ways to handle these infringements made by an overwhelming majority; non-compliance or voting with your feet. On the other side of the coin, some communities in Colorado have banned the sale of marijuana. One is left with the choice of non-compliance, becoming a black-market drug dealer, or voting with their feet.
As much as I admire those who fight government on a local level in an effort to reform or defend their communities (I’ve done it, myself), we must come to the conclusion that in the modern world, the best we can hope for is to find and/or build communities which are aligned with our own personal views and values. As much as we fight for and defend the Bill of Rights, we are often confronted with the fact that it is a binding document on the federal government, and communities may be a different fight altogether.
Wild West towns with gun violence issues required passers-thru to check their guns at the sheriff’s office. Now, plenty of information will corroborate that this was an early form of failed gun control, but it didn’t stop American communities from instituting these policies and others. In modern days, these policies might include gun sanctuary counties, immigrant sanctuary cities, and decriminalization of substances on the federal drug schedule, but the sentiment is the same; this is our community, and we will shape it as we choose.
The great understanding that we – should – all share regarding the federal government, is that its decisions impact those from Bangor to Miami. Its policies will change the economy from Tucson to Anchorage. Why should a representative from Michigan who had a campaign financed by some toxic polluter be able to introduce environmental regulations which will buttress that company and simultaneously kill a competitor in Biloxi? Why should a Senator from a state with a large population and statistically high gun violence have any say in what firearms a gentleman from St Francis, Kansas, should own?
We all rightfully fear the other side because we understand how powerful the federal government is. We’ve seen it enact sweeping policy which permanently changed health care, and we’ve also witnessed as it saved the bacon of some of the most disgusting investment bankers on the planet. It has lifted companies into prosperity and suppressed entire industries for decades. The idea that any entity should wield so much power over the actions of good and decent people is absolutely ridiculous. Should that entity have a mechanism for dealing with bad actors and assessing liability? Absolutely yes, but that entity should not have the ability to change an existing business relationship which has worked without friction or causing harm to others prior to the government even knowing the firms worked together.
We all need to collaborate to break down the federal government to its simplest form attainable. To do this, we need to quit trying to run everybody’s life from thousands of miles away and let communities manage themselves. Yes, those communities will have to fight county governments and state governments, but at least you can get an audience with those people. To get your foot in a Washington DC door, you need to know somebody or own somebody, and a more fraudulent system one can’t imagine. These fights for liberty can be won at the lower levels far easier than at the highest levels.
For us to cross this bridge, Republicans in Washington will have to quit trying to overturn a nearly 50-year-old court decision and Democrats are going to have to quit trying to sidestep the Bill of Rights to curtail firearm ownership. The right is going to have to sharpen their pencils and determine exactly what DEFENSE means and how much it costs, and the left is going to have to abandon millions of federal jobs and numerous federal agencies and departments in order to cut spending to a low enough level that their super-liberal state can tax more and implement some form of socialized medicine closer to home. To do this, we need advocates for small government in the federal realm, but we especially need for these elected officials to not try their own subtle social engineering while there. The left fears taking this idea on, because they honestly believe reproductive rights will be a thing of the past before we ever get to that moment.
The right bristles at this thought because they worry about their guns and the energy sector. Both have valid concerns, as currently, their political opponents are seeking to erode the rights and opportunities which they hold dear. To get beyond this, we must stop being trolls just for the sake of it. Rather than casting shade at that person from a thousand miles away, perhaps offer that wonderful middle ground that they should be able to feel safe in that world they imagine, and likewise, you deserve to know that what you hold dear is protected and no one will be coming to change that.
We vote with our feet. We vibe with our tribe. We come together with those who have like goals and values in order to advance a cause and to build communities. This is our future, not some tattered nation that hates each other. This is no way to live, and I think we all know it. This divisiveness consumes us. It consumes our productive hours, our minds, and our actions. To be the people we are truly meant to be and fulfill the capabilities of our society, we need to set aside the pointless vitriol and stop embracing those who divide us rather than unite us. We’ve come to this horrible fork in the road where we, on all sides and of all political persuasions, can either choose to take a principled stand and refuse to take part in the madness, or we can continue to give up the ideals we once held dear in order to savor in the anger and frustrations of those who hold different opinions.
One path leads to a specialized society of peace and cooperation, and the other leads to ruin.
I fear we will choose wrong.
Matt “DiGi” DiGiallonardo
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