The United States today possesses a political climate unlike anything seen in recent history. With radical opinions flowing like gasoline from both sides of the aisle, and the inflammatory nature of American media acting as a perpetually lit match, politics in this nation could be compared to a pipe bomb ready to explode.
This may be more than just a colorful metaphor for the tensions running along the divide between Republicans and Democrats, however. According to a report from the USA Today Network, objects originally described as suspicious devices delivered to the homes of George Soros, the Clinton and Obama families, Robert DeNiro, Maxine Walters, and other democratic figures are now suspected of being real pipe bombs.
With the delivery of these explosive devices to the addresses of high-profile, outspoken critics of President Trump, many people (including the son of George Soros himself) are blaming the president's rhetoric for the outbreaks of political violence in the United States. While it is certainly hard to argue with the fact that President Trump's words, both at rallies and on social media, are certainly unorthodox and provocative, the question of how much blame really lies on the president for radical actions is one with a much more complex answer.
A situation such as this could be viewed a number of ways. On the primary level, it is a violent and radical act that borders on domestic terror, and fits in with a seemingly escalating pattern of attack upon the opposing political party. Secondarily, one could trace the cause of this violence to the American climate brought about by Donald Trump's beliefs and actions.
However, if one is going to play the blame game, it is important to look beyond at the tertiary levels of the issue and ask the question; who is to blame for Trump's rhetoric? One need only look into a mirror to shine a light on the ugly truth, and see that the root of the issue lies not with the government, or the president, but with the American people themselves.
For someone who has a natural tendency to mistrust the government, this is painful to say. However, if we as a nation ever wish to heal the ever-increasing divide between the red and blue parties, it has to start with the citizens. Consider this: how is a politician supposed to be moderate and reach across the aisle when voters respond more strongly to the sensational?
Americans on both sides of the political spectrum seem to be trending further and further towards radicalism, in what can only be described as a vicious cycle. As people react with more and more outrage to the world around them, politicians are forced to follow them with their rhetoric and policies in order to solidify their constituencies. Once that level of anger and distaste for an opponent becomes the new normal, voters swing even further, dragging politicians along with them, and so on.
Just imagine that the United States is a big restaurant whose customers represent the voting population, with a head chef in place of a Commander in Chief. The chef first presents an evenly seasoned meal; just enough spice, but an equal amount of sweet and savory flavors. The diners taste the seasoning, and request that the chef add a little more spice to the dish. The chef abides, and soon the diners are asking for more and more spice, being continually desensitized to the rising levels that the chef is cooking with. Knowing full well that refusing to bend to the will of the customers would lead to replacement, the chef allows the cycle to continue until one of the diners gets sick.
The question then is, who is at fault for the diner's injury? And what happens when the other diners see the burn, and it only makes them want to try something even spicier? It would stand to reason that the chef, bound to the will of the people paying the bills, is not singularly responsible. Sure, they could have put their foot down, but the only result would have been the hiring of a new chef to fill the people's insatiable appetites.
This is what is happening in the United States right now, in both parties. The voters continue to reward fringe politics and spurn compromise, and in turn the politicians have to follow suit. This process has grown out of control, and what results is a fragile climate of violence and hate.
Just before the rallies in Charlottesville, for example, Donald Trump's approval rating was 41% according to a study conducted by Quinnipiac University and given an A- accuracy rating from FiveThirtyEight. After the rally, and the president's comments about there being “fine people on both sides?” According to another study by Monmouth University, which was given an A+ accuracy rating (these two studies were the only two during the period graded higher than a B), his approval rating rose to 43%, coupled with a drop in disapproval rating.
What does this mean? Big picture, it means that explosive and divisive speech leads to an even more steadfast group of supporters. Today, it means that taking the news of bombs being delivered to prominent Democrats and immediately laying the blame on the president not only fails to accurately lay responsibility on the people of this nation, but also perpetuates the very cycle that caused the present climate to exist in the first place.