Previous generations understood that discussing politics could be seen as divisive but they also understood that politics was personal. One’s political beliefs didn’t necessarily make them a bad person and this allowed for people to unite for other purposes. We could go about our daily lives not knowing nor caring about what policies or political ideologies people subscribed to; it just didn’t matter.
That is not the case today. The divisive nature of politics that previous generations warned us about is here and likely not going anywhere anytime soon. There was an understanding that politics created a tribal divide that fed into our instinctive tribal nature. If unchecked, politics would become the point of reference for life decision making, friendships, and even romantic relationships.
Why the uptick in political discussion? You can blame 24/7 news coverage, political entertainment shows like the Daily Show and many other places but it all comes back to fear based profitability. Politics is the new soap opera as there is always the dichotomy of good guy vs bad guy, making you afraid of the bad guy succeeding. Wrestling, for example, is more profitable when they have a dominating bad guy because we watch more due to fear and we hope for their downfall. Either way, it’s all a show, even politics.
In 2017, Pew Research Center released a study indicating that in the first 60 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, over 60% of news stories about Trump were negative. In comparison, 28% for Bill Clinton, 28% for George Bush and 20% for Barrack Obama. In 2008, the Media Research Center viewed about 1,007 evening news stories about the Trump White House on ABC, CBS and NBC from June 1 to September 30th. They state the following: “Over the summer, the broadcast networks have continued to pound Donald Trump and his team with the most hostile coverage of a president in TV news history — 92% negative vs. just 8% positive.“
An honest person has to see something is a bit lopsided. A dead clock is right twice a day yet in the eyes of the media, he has yet to do anything positive. This is purposeful because they understand that manufacturing a bad guy keeps everyone’s eyes glued to the Trump media coverage. The news has become rage porn and they feed off of the American public’s irrational fears.
In 2016, CNN’s excessive coverage of Donald Trump netted them $1 Billion in gross profit (a network record). Even CNN’s President, Jeff Zucker, acknowledged the importance of Trump coverage: “We’ve seen that anytime you break away from the Trump story and cover other events in this era, the audience goes away.“
This is not about Republican vs Democrat anymore
The political divide used to be based on party lines but it was always seen as “different sides of the same coin” but that is not what we are facing today. The media reframed the dividing narrative from political to moral, which is a dangerous switch. This is no longer about Republican vs Democrat; this is about Good Vs. Evil. When you start to make your political decisions based on righteousness, then you have lost.
If you are wondering why those on the political left have such a strong hatred for Donald Trump, you can understand it more so when you view it from the framing of him being “evil” rather than simply disagreeing. To clarify, when I am referring to “evil” it is from the perspective of being unredeemable and completely morally corrupt, hence the constant use of words like Fascist, Nazi, Dictator or the over used Hitler comparisons. If I view someone with great power as evil, then I will likely be obsessed with this evilness until it has been eradicated. If I view someone as evil, all association with such evil is also evil, including you.
Now that you are guilty by association to evil, all symbols must be destroyed, much like people stealing Trump yard signs or grabbing MAGA hats. “Make America Great Again” might as well be “Make Germany Great Again” during the Nazi era to these people.
Inclusion or Exile: Choose Wisely
Many Americans are being put into a corner to decide what matters more to them, their personal political honesty or keeping intact their personal relationships? It’s an unfair position to put anyone in but there are millions of Americans who have had to make this decision. Could they have both? Of course, they can have both but they are taking a gamble as they do not know who will have an adverse reaction to their beliefs.
Those that choose their personal relationships remain quiet politically and while everyone else is able to be vocal about their liberal beliefs, these people remain quiet so they aren’t branded with a political scarlet letter. They feel like they are betraying themselves and portraying a dishonest representation of who they are to the world.
Those that choose to speak openly about their right-leaning political beliefs risk being scolded, harassed, demeaned, doxxed, physically attacked or disowned by friends and family. They are essentially put into political and personal isolation all for what they believe.
Rob Smith, a popular gay conservative, stated that it was easier to come out of the closet as gay than it was to come out as a conservative. When he came out as gay, he received love and encouragement. When he came out as conservative, he was shunned and disavowed by friends and family. This is the adverse reaction from the political left that is happening today.
I have personally met wonderful men and women that feel lost and alone in this world because everything was taken from them that mattered. It’s starting to feel like it’s protocol for friends and family to shutout dissenting viewpoints. My heart breaks reading stories of fathers disowning their sons, long time loving friendships cut off and people being physically attacked simply for saying how they feel. One particular story I read was so extreme because their Democrat parents not only put their son into exile but they removed them from their will.
We must understand that people just want to be understood, not agreed upon. You may have a relative that believes in the craziest conspiracy theories but people are allowed to think whatever they want as long as they don’t hurt anyone. You can love crazy people because we always have. A person’s politics isn’t the only deciding factor for someone’s behavior; character matters. People just want to be heard and many on the political right will accept a simple “agree to disagree” but the perception of evil prevents those on the left from extending their hand of understanding.
If you are someone who is afraid of exile, I contest that being dishonest with yourself is more damaging than the embrace of others under false pretenses.
Humans are social creatures and when we are excommunicated from our tribe, we can become depressed, increasingly paranoid of others or even decline in health. Imagine in one day losing everyone that you loved and you feel like it’s your fault, why wouldn’t you be depressed? We can recognize that solitary confinement in prisons is considered torture but we don’t make the association with social solitary confinement being torturous to social creatures like humans. There is a real danger that we will create a large population of people that are lonely and depressed which nothing good ever comes from.
The removal of evil, the embrace of love
Maybe you are someone that has stopped talking to your favorite Uncle because his support for Trump seems so evil but have you thought to ask him why he supports Trump? Have you considered that the Uncle you grew up with hasn’t changed in his morals? Have you considered that you have changed instead of them?
With love is true understanding. Love gives the benefit of the doubt and will do anything possible to hold a relationship. I am willing to bet that the person you have shunned away is in emotional pain because they assumed that love would out-shadow your political differences.
No matter what part of the political spectrum you’re in, we all need to remove the idea of evil from the political realm. The prospect of evil has been used for centuries to create a divide and it’s an effective manipulation tactic but it’s devastating to how we treat each other.
In politics, there are rarely evil people (in my opinion). There are definitely extremists, opportunists, manipulators and profiteers but that doesn’t necessarily make them evil. Your friends and family, the ones that have no political power except for a single vote, are likely not evil as well.
To those that are alone…
You are not alone as to what has happened to you. There are millions of Americans that feel the same way as you and I implore you not to succumb to the depression by remaining isolated. Utilize social media to find other like-minded people and rebuild your personal tribe. These are trying times for every American and it’s essential to keep a strong support system.
This political season is the most toxic in my lifetime and what you are experiencing from loved ones is likely not permanent. Do not give up hope on reconnecting with those that mattered to you as long as it’s in a healthy manner. If there was true love before, it is possible that it will reappear. There is also the possibility that the friendships you had before were superficial so they had no issues leaving you behind but it’s better that they leave now than being disappointed when they fall through in a time of need.
Scared people think irrationally and they do irrational things. The tactics of exile is irrational and there is a possibility that once this election season is over, their fear levels will decrease alongside their increase in rationality. I am truly optimistic in my belief in the American public, even as the country burns.