I keep hearing about how we are more divided than ever. Unless somebody can present some serious studies to prove this, I am not buying it. I don’t think most people are any more divided than they were before. As a child, I remember folks using the n-word at school. Gay insults were common enough that child-me thought they were normal. As a young adult, I remember being physically threatened by a coworker for protesting the Iraq War. Years later, I remember arguing about a coworker calling Muslims “rag-heads” after the 9/11 attack. Raging debates on conservative vs liberal, copyright vs piracy, religion vs equal rights, gun control, welfare, healthcare, etc. For as long as I can remember, people have fought about politics and human behavior.
You shouldn’t rely on my experiences. You can look at plenty of old footage of terrible things that were done to civil rights protesters. You can look at records of nasty American political campaigns as early as Jefferson vs Adams. You can look at the partisan divide where Newt Gingrich was cheating on his wife while hypocritically spending millions of tax dollars pursuing Bill Clinton for doing the same. There was, of course, the Civil War. Slavery vs abolitionists. The Trail of Tears. Prohibition, Japanese internment, McCarthyism, Nixon’s impeachment, the Vietnam war, the Drug War, etc.
What I think seems “different” to people is that it felt like we were making progress. We were at least moving forward towards equality and justice. Civil rights were still growing. Even if you might feel that Obama fell short of your dreams, his election was a leap born of a thousand other steps. Even conservative judges like Kennedy were budging on gay rights.
And then the Republicans put Trump in place, and the same partisan votes that have been around forever elected him. I don’t think most people are any more divided than they were. I think old-fashioned partisan crap meant that Republicans largely blindly voted for a really bad guy to be President. And they have been gerrymandering the system for their side for so long that (like Bush) their guy won, despite losing the popular election by 3 million or so votes.
And now he is in power, and putting other bad people in power throughout the government. And the alt-right, which has always been there under one name or another, feels empowered. And if the majority of folks, who are still the same partisan people they have always been, don’t wake up, and see what they have done… then the extremists might just carry the day.
I have read before that supposedly the American Revolution was 1/3rd pro-Revolution, 1/3rd pro-England, and 1/3rd staying “neutral” while it happened. I have seen similar claims for Germany, before the Nazis ascended. If those are accurate then maybe we remain equally divided even in bad times – not more divided.
You can look at Trump’s support numbers and see that faction is in place as usual. Assuming you are not a pro-Trump supporter, then where are you? Pro-resistance, or staying neutral?