2016 is a big election year, with the office of the President, 34 Senate seats, and all 435 seats of the House of Representatives up for grabs, to say there is a lot at stake is an understatement. Add to that, a Supreme Court vacancy and we have the absolute pandemonium that is the 2016 election season!
This is not a post about who you should vote for, or what political ideology you should subscribe to. This is about a growing divide in America that is more evident this election season than ever before, thanks to the rise of social media. We no longer have to feign interest or understanding as we sit through the boring narratives of our family, friends and acquaintances on their political views. Instead we can hide behind our 140 Twitter characters or blistering Facebook rants to completely and surreptitiously obliterate, often with no factual merit, anyone’s view that opposes our own.
To Respond Or To Not Respond, Does It Even Matter!
I often find myself biting my tongue when I open Facebook or Twitter these days. I do so, more out of respect for other people’s point of view. Everyone is entitled to their view of things. We all have a series of experiences that have helped form our personalities and what we believe in. Freedom of speech is a right in this great country of ours and who am I to deny anyone their right to express themselves. That being said, the debacle that is the 2016 election season seems to have brought out the outer fringe of insane! When you consider that there is a movement (albeit a small one) in Texas that calls for the state to secede from the Union if Hillary Clinton is elected (there may be similar movements in other Red States); you also have liberal celebrities who have publicly stated that they will move to another country if Donald Trump is elected. All this leaves you to asking, how “united” is the United States of America? You can’t help but wonder if the greatest democracy to have ever existed is on the verge of collapse!
So what do you do when the fear mongering becomes so loud it is hard to ignore? More often than not, I choose to ignore. There are only so many hours in a day and I do not want to spend it obsessing over whether Aunt May is finally on the express bus to crazy!
Just The Facts Ma’am!
In all the noise that is the social media rhetoric this political season, the one thing that is often missing from a great deal many (not all) of what is being put out there is “The Truth”. I’m not sure whether to attribute this to the viral nature of social media or just consider it an enormous game of telephone, where the truth is so distorted. What has surprised me more than anything is the conviction that these distortions are delivered with. It would seem that in the battle for views, likes, shares or whatever, delivering the truth is no longer a focus. It is so blatantly obvious that many people sharing outrageous “Breaking News” fail at simple fact checking. What is even more preposterous is that you have statements coming out of many campaigns (at every level of office currently being contested), where the message is so far removed from fact that you have to ask yourself if what is occurring is even legal! Walter Cronkite where are you when we need you the most? May he rest in peace.
It’s now the middle of September, the first Presidential debate is quickly approaching. It would appear, America is completely divided along partisan lines. Friendships are being challenged, neighbors are rising up against each other and social media is rife with never ending debates by people determined to make their lies true! You are either a “libtard” or a “deplorable”! What happened to being American? Have we forgotten that we all want the same things when you break it down: The best chance for success in our lives! Well at least that is what I want, but I could be wrong and I’m OK with being wrong.
Therein lies the root of the problem. Everyone is so obsessed with being right! Right about their choice of candidate, right about their religious beliefs, right about their political ideology, right about all that they believe in. We Americans have to be right and we will challenge anyone that tries to tell us otherwise. At times we will resort to outright bullying to defend our position. Yes folks, political correctness in America is dead, or at the very least on life support just waiting for someone to pull the plug.
Freedom Of Speech
There are those that would argue that America is finally returning back to it’s true nature, where people are truly free to speak there minds. I would say we never left the realm of free speech, we simply chose to speak with a certain level of decorum. In all actuality it really boils down to the reasons why you speak a certain way. I have no scientific studies or test cases to offer as proof, I simply subscribe to the school of common sense that you will get in return, that which you give. There is no more solid proof of this than the current state of the election season. With all the divisive rhetoric offered up by each candidate and the resulting amplification of this rhetoric via social media by their prospective proponents, an outsider would almost decidedly note that our society, as we know it, is collapsing in upon itself. The closer we get to November 8th, 2016, the more divisive the rhetoric will be, I imagine.
Where does the media fall within all of this? Right square in the middle of crazy street! You have of course your dependably biased conservative news network in Fox News, and your obviously liberal news venue in CNN, but with the rise of social media you also have the fringe extremist, who are no longer content with hiding in the shadows, emboldened by all the divisiveness, publishing their own brand of journalism in the blogosphere. If I had to sum it up in a phrase, I would say, Anarchy has gone mainstream!
All of this has caused a notable shift in American sentiment with regard to what is and isn’t appropriate to say. With the far right claiming they are simply expressing their patriotism and the far left calling them racist. Who is right and who is wrong, I don’t believe it really matters because each in their own right believes vehemently in their position. Normally upon audit, you could dismiss it all as political fodder. However, a deeper observation shows that the general commentary en masse is getting darker. Leaving you to wonder what happens when it is all over.
The Morning After
Fast Forward to November 9th, 2016, a large part of America is going to be fueled by rage. It doesn’t matter who wins, the other side will be shouting foul! Should we be shocked? This is after all what this whole election cycle, along with the last 8 years of partisan divide in Washington has built up to. America has become the shining beacon of the “if you aren’t with us, you are against us” mentality.
We have shown the world what can happen when you become self absorbed. Our armor is beginning to show the cracks that divisiveness has created. We are as a nation stronger together than we could ever be apart. The events of September 11, 2001 proved that to us. Yet here we are, is that date far enough in our past that we have forgotten what we felt like on that day? That has to be true or there must be some other reason why we act in hatred of one another.
There is still time to change what happens in America post election results. Will we be a nation that lives by its values and accepts the outcome or will all hell break loose as one Presidential candidate has predicted as one potentiality. Will we rise up together to meet the challenges that America, and the rest of the world, face? Or will we continue down this divisive past, splintering into factions until the once great United States of America is no more. All because we are hell bent on classifying ourselves as “libtard” Democrats or “Deplorable” Republicans, instead of as Americans and treating each other as such. The future is indeed bleak!
United States of America
1776 – 2016