If you rely on social media for “news,” and sadly there are probably all too many who do, you would conclude that America is the most divided it’s been since its inception. I have to believe that this country has been through much worse, and to be sure, that is not to understate where we are today.
The Civil War came close to breaking up this country. The Great Depression was about as close as we’ve probably come to date to turning to fascism or communism as a solution. I thought the 1960s, with the Vietnam War and Civil Rights movement running parallel, with the riots and cities burning down associated with both, that we were on the brink. Each time we found a better way, and the strength of our democratic republic, its institutions, and its people brought us back.
All of that said, we are living in tough times. No one could have imagined that from the beginning of March to the present our lives could be upended by the triangulation of the coronavirus, the economic collapse, and social unrest. And the bitter presidential election has yet to get underway, which will only add to the stress. Seemingly intelligent people who should know better, propagate conspiracy theories that Democrats and the media are covering up the “real” facts associated with the vengeful return of the coronavirus in order to further undermine the economy and defeat Donald Trump in November.
Considering talk radio is overwhelming dominated by conservatives, Fox is the number one news station, and most small town newspapers lean right, I wonder why their voices are somehow drowned out? How is it that these right wing media don’t control events like the left is accused of? What is it that they are doing wrong, that they don’t know, that they can’t compete with the left despite their numbers?
I don’t remember a time in our nation’s history when an American service member was more vilified than during the Vietnam War. Thankfully, we turned that corner around the time that Ronald Reagan dedicated the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from that war at a very moving ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Sadly, though, there are those who want it both ways---to claim to support our troops while singling out political opponents for opprobrium related to their service. That would include Trump’s denigrating attacks on the late Senator John McCain’s having been a POW, and now Fox news host Tucker Carlson accusing Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who lost both legs in Iraq from a rocket that hit the helicopter she co-piloted, of hating America.
Tucker Carlson, like so many conservatives who proclaim to be patriots but never wore the uniform of this country they profess to love, are shameless when they question a service member’s patriotism over political differences. To be clear, no politician, no elected official is off limits from criticism related to their views, policies, and anything associated with the office they hold. But a personal attack on a veteran who left some of her body parts behind in a foreign country, especially coming from someone in the viewing stands vice the arena, deserves condemnation from all sides. Regrettably, that condemnation didn’t occur from the “right” side of the political spectrum.
To be a little fair and balanced in the true meaning of those words, I am appalled at the left for boycotting Goya Foods because its CEO made some public statements lauding Trump. Why should this matter? If the CEO produces a quality product at a price consumers are willing to pay, pays his taxes, contributes to the community, why go after the company because its leader says something you disagree with, something that has zero bearing on the products themselves? This only creates more division for no meaningful purpose.
America is not exceptional because we are the toughest guy in the neighborhood with the strongest military to ensure we remain number one. No, we are exceptional because our Constitution ensures the right of every American to hold beliefs that go against the majority, beliefs that may be unpopular, beliefs that may even make people uncomfortable. We are nation that doesn’t swear allegiance to any individual no matter the office. Our allegiance is to preserve and defend the Constitution, which ensures everyone’s rights and does not depend on any one person.
Patriots of every race, ethnicity, political affiliation, religion or no religion, and so many other differences, have given it all to this country. Any number lie in national cemeteries where there are no markers to separate anyone from anyone else because of these differences.
The nation turns its lonely eyes to Joe DiMaggio to remind us of this. (Credit to Simon & Garfunkel, “Mrs. Robinson”, 1968)