This New Orange Era: The Growing Divide

Posted on February 20, 2017

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For those of you who feel like you are caught in a Trump avalanche, know that you are. You want desperately to get out, but it seems that every time you start to wriggle your limbs, you precipitate another large chunk of snow dislodging and burying you even deeper. You may want to stop struggling, hold your breath, and pray for hibernation to take over, until spring (and sanity) arrives. Good luck. That won’t happen, but it might make you feel better to know that your feelings are are shared by millions.

Like countless others, I’ve been trying to figure this whole thing out: How did it happen? Why did it happen? Where did we go wrong? Has the world gone mad?  If the world hasn’t, have I, personally, gone mad? What is this country I have been living in?

I’ll share some of my thoughts with you. A note to Readers: We are all drowning in Trump news/analysis. Feel free to skip this post and wait for the next one, which will have nothing to do with Trump.  I won’t be hurt. I would skip this, if I were you.

First piece of advice: Do NOT wait for Trump’s supporters to see the light. He is exactly the personality they adored during the campaign. The promises that they cared about seem to be materializing.  He promised them a wall, and he is serious about that. He promised them a conservative Supreme Court nominee, and he has delivered. He promised to get rid of unsavory illegals, and he is trying, even if a lot of savory ones are getting caught up in the process. He promised to eradicate ISIS. While he hasn’t actually done anything about that, he’s been sucking up to the military big time, and that sends a message that ISIS’ days are numbered. He promised people jobs. He has done virtually nothing about that, but he has signed presidential orders and made big noises about bringing back 19th century technology, and those who had such jobs are overjoyed.

Best of all, he has given his supporters an enemy they can understand: the media, meaning any media that questions either his policies, his capability for the job, or the veracity of his statements. The bottom line is, he has done enough to  keep the groupies in line.

“But,” some of you are asking, “What about Russia!” Trump supporters aren’t concerned. Please understand that for many Trump supporters, Russia is merely an abstract concept. Supporters feed on a hatred/fear toward radical Islamic terror, with an emphasis on Muslim. Russians look too much like them. They don’t elicit the same fear/loathing as Muslims do.

“Wait!” you yell, “What about Bannon and Miller and Conway and the other goons who work for him?!  They are SCARY DUDES!” Trump supporters aren’t concerned. They don’t believe that their man is second to anyone or defers to anyone. He is the Dude in Charge. He calls the shots. He makes all the decisions. Bannon, Miller, Conway and all the rest of them serve him.

“He lies! He lies!” you are screaming apoplectically.  No, actually Trump’s supporters don’t know that. Their news sources don’t tell them that Trump lies.  Trump supporters see the world through a lense of Fox, Limbaugh and his ilk, and websites such as Breitbart, Drudge Report, WSJ Opinion Journal, The Blaze. Anti-Trump forces listen to CNN/MSNBC, NPR, and websites such as Vox, Huffington Post, Daily Beast, Politico, Slate. So, while we identify Hillary as a potentially outstanding president who won the popular vote by almost three million and lost the election due to an antiquated electoral college system, they still see her as demon spawn who, had she won, would have ended the free world as we know it. Thankfully, their hero prevailed to save the day and their butts.

The divide is huge and widening. It isn’t due to what is important to people. We all want secure borders. We all want economic and national security.  We all want our children’s lives to be better than ours were.  The divide is caused almost entirely by the news sources we trust. News sources used to be pretty much neutral. Now, there are fewer and fewer neutral sources. And, as time goes on, the sources that exist are becoming even more polarized.  And more and more of what used to be neutral in our lives is becoming politicized. Neutral political space, with the the possibility of dialogue and compromise,  is becoming an endangered species.

If it sounds like I’m throwing in the political towel, I’m not. I’m cheering for the journalists ( and some members of Congress) who are spending an enormous amount of time and energy to uncover the truth about Trump/Russia ties, as well as Trump’s financial entanglements that are becoming even more of a conflict as time goes by.

I’m cheering for the handful of GOP Congressmen who are principled enough (and courageous enough) to raise questions and demand answers.  I’m cheering for the ordinary people all over the country who have shown up at town halls and have strongly voiced their concerns to their elected representatives. I’m cheering for every person who makes a phone call, writes a letter, holds a placard.

I am especially cheering for that tiny group of people who are willing to check with news sources other than the ones they usually listen to or read. They won’t change their opinions. Opinions are almost impossible to change. But maybe they will have a slightly better understanding of who those people are who stand on the other side of the divide.

 

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