The Great Divide


December 14, 2016 8:51 am by Jacob McAllister



The fault-line is real

Liberal vs Conservative. Right versus Left. Red versus Blue. Up versus Down…

It would seem that America is split along some type of line right down the middle of just about everything.

The narrative is all to familiar at this point: “The country is more divided than we’ve ever been.” The political fault-line has ruptured in such a way that raises legitimate concerns as to whether or not the entire process itself is fundamentally broken.

The toxic nature of the entire spectacle has been terribly off putting to large swaths of our electorate, and is causing a good portion of our country to tune out the political process entirely.

But maybe that is exactly the point…

Hitting Pause

This entire election cycle and its aftermath have been an absolute circus, but now that a little bit of time has passed I think it is necessary that we take a good honest look at the nature of our differences, and also the areas where we may find some common ground. Of course divisions are present, but I would submit that we actually have more in common than not.

Human beings are all more or less driven by the same motivations, have the same fears, and want the same kinds of opportunities. I find taking a step back and being totally honest about the situation to be a cathartic experience, and something that is highly appropriate.

Conflict sells. Inflaming these divisions will always be a good business practice for anyone trying to gain ratings, but is absolutely poisonous to civil discourse.

We’re just not there yet…

 

Admitting the Obvious

Partisan politics are all the rage. From the limousine liberals in Manhattan to the liberty loving tea-party patriot deep in the heartland, everybody is taking solace in the comfort of their collective reassurance. So allow me to walk back my previous comments about how much we have in common and lay out some of the key differences.

    • Liberals by and large are city dwellers, Conservatives tend to come from more rural and suburban areas.  This article by David Wong for Cracked does the best job I’ve seen of articulating this divide as seen through the eyes of a Trump supporter

      These are people who come from a long line of folks who took pride in looking after themselves. Where I’m from, you weren’t a real man unless you could repair a car, patch a roof, hunt your own meat, and defend your home from an intruder. It was a source of shame to be dependent on anyone — especially the government. You mowed your own lawn and fixed your own pipes when they leaked, you hauled your own firewood in your own pickup truck. (Mine was a 1994 Ford Ranger! The current owner says it still runs!)

      The rural folk with the Trump signs in their yards say their way of life is dying, and you smirk and say what they really mean is that blacks and gays are finally getting equal rights and they hate it. But I’m telling you, they say their way of life is dying because their way of life is dying. It’s not their imagination. No movie about the future portrays it as being full of traditional families, hunters, and coal mines. Well, except for Hunger Games, and that was depicted as an apocalypse.

      So yes, they vote for the guy promising to put things back the way they were, the guy who’d be a wake-up call to the blue islands. They voted for the brick through the window. It was a vote of desperation.

      It is so important for all of us on the left side of the aisle to try and recognize the nature of this hurt. Far too often urbanites tend to be dismissive of the culture and the grievances of half of the country, and it is to our dismay. I urge everyone to take a second and read this article. It is truly insightful.

    • The correlation between education level and membership in either party is increasingly predictable. The numbers on this subject do not lie. This of course brings with it all of the predictable associations: Liberals are smug know-it-alls, and conservatives are just rubes who don’t know what is good for them. These types of attitudes are the direct result of stereotypes allowed to metastasize.
    • The church plays a much larger role in civic life for those in red-leaning areas than blue. I know, I know, no shit Sherlock… But this is crucial in understanding this issue. Urban liberalism can be downright dismissive of the role of church as anything beyond personal province, while smugly ignoring all of the social services it has provided historically.
      There are many religious organizations doing far more to help those in need than need than a group of stylish city slickers in a posh San Francisco wine bar priggishly whining about how backwards middle America is.
    • Conservatives tend to be more outward in displaying their patriotism, Liberals are far more likely to consider themselves “Citizens of the World”. This of course is playing out now with the whole nationalism vs globalization debate that is tearing not only through our politics, but all over Europe as well. This debate will continue to rage on, and caught many liberals off guard, having naively taken globalization for granted as “settled law” by this point.

Making Thanksgiving Dinner Bearable Again

So we’ve all had countless discussions, debates, and outright throw-downs with those in our lives with whom we oppose ideologically. This is normal, especially after the dumpster fire of an electoral campaign we all lived through.

We may not be holding hands and singing Kumbaya any time soon, but if we can at least start with finding some common ground on any issues we can, it would be a step in the right direction, or perhaps stop the bleeding at least.

  • The benefits of globalization and economic expansion have failed to materialize for the little guy. This is why Trump and Bernie were able to make such a splash this time around. Progressives have been screaming bloody murder about this for two decades now, and for better or for worse, this issue seems to have been usurped by the party of Trump. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that the benefits of economic prosperity must be made more accessible to a broader range of society.
  • We should absolutely focus on rebuilding our infrastructure. Although I’m sure a lengthy and heated debate will be had about just how to pay for it. We’ve been making proposals of this nature for quite a while now. It is good to see the Republican party acknowledge the need for it as well.
  • Political Correctness comes across as at best sort of snobby and elitist, and at worst, downright invasive and farcical. I’ve long laughed at this kind of nonsense, which is why I really don’t think it belongs up there with major issues you can vote on, but apparently this is a major issue for many people and so we on the left should at least acknowledge that it is a nuisance, and strive to discourage this type of behavior generally.
  • Not all Trump voters are deplorable and it’s honestly not a significant portion of them. I wasn’t sure I was actually physically going to be able to make my fingers type this, but alas, I made it. I kid, of course. Leading up to the election, and in its aftermath, I very loudly highlighted this element, because I wanted to point out what I considered a Faustian bargain that was being made by a lot of smart individuals who quite frankly, know better.

So let me say, I dont think that all Trump voters are deplorable at all, just the ones that are deplorable. This includes racists, xenophobes, conspiracy nuts, and just plain horrible people.

There are no doubt many more issues upon which common ground can be reached, however, as I have stated, concessions should not be made in the name of treating others fairly. Grownups can have reasoned debates on issues without taking it personally. It is possible to have rigorous debate while still recognizing the humanity of your opponent.

Pictures don’t always tell the whole story…

Blue State Blues

I live in a Blue State. I try and eat organic, non-GMO foods. I ride on buses and trains packed full of people. I work at a tech company.

I also grew up in a Red State. I say hello to everyone I pass on the street. I hold the door open for strangers, and conduct myself as a gentleman. I genuinely value other peoples opinions and try to take the time and listen to what they have to say.

I love all of my progressive ideas and values. I love living in a beautiful, clean, active, liberal city. I also love and cherish my roots, and they will always be a part of me as well. I grew up in the church, and have grown to appreciate the influence that it has had on me. I am an honest and decent person, and a lot of that I learned there first. I cant throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I may disagree with a number of my fellow countrymen on the issues. But I know you are more than the issues you support, as am I. We are people first, and by acknowledging each other’s humanity we go a long way towards bridging this seemingly endless divide.

Red states are full of wonderful people and places, and their culture is unique, and worth valuing and experiencing. I urge all of my Blue State friends to experience this for themselves.


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