There have always been rifts between rival political ideologies in America. Each respective party has become stauncher on some issues while conceding others, but there have always been fundamental differences that ensured a certain level of division would remain within our brand of democracy. But in the past eight to twelve years, widening inter-party and intra-party divisions facilitated by an increasingly uninformed public, a media that has thrown impartiality to the wind, and the comments and agendas of the politicians themselves have resulted in utter chaos. Young people such as myself are hard-pressed to remember a time when the nation was unified even in the loosest sense of the word, and that last moment would be the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.
That was over 16 years ago, and even those weeks and months of American unity which had not been seen since the Second World War proved fleeting. The Pax Americana did not last long, with unified resilience giving way to the political warfare that Americans now recognize as the status quo. Discussion, for many of the most vocal segments on the right and left, has been relinquished in favor of ad-hominem attacks, hyperbolic charges of criminality and fundamental, verbalized disdain for entire groups of people.
How did disagreements about government spending, immigration policy, and the merits of a given candidate morph into charges of Nazism? Contrarily, those on the right now identify anybody with left-wing opinions as radical associates of groups such as Antifa. Who is to blame for these juvenile approaches to political ‘discourse’ which have become more about slinging mud than passing policy?
That’s a somewhat complicated question to answer. Poor, laissez-faire parenting and the degradation of traditional social mores such as respect for others, especially those with different life experience, are part of the issue. Considering the consistency with which both 2016 Presidential candidates resorted to personal attacks, truthful or not, that even a 4th grader could find distasteful and out of bounds, how can we expect the majority of the population not to follow in their footsteps?
Those of us who have witnessed election cycles past assumed that the faux-outrage and moral preening would end when the ballots were finally counted and Donald Trump was inaugurated. Naïve is not a strong enough adjective to describe such sentiments. The excuses, complaints, and griping about What Happened have continued for a year now, exemplifying sore loser-hood in a manner that is unbecoming of a pop warner football team, let alone a one-time favorite to man the most powerful nation in the world.
The appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel in charge of investigating collusion between the Trump administration and Russian government officials, or oligarchs, or whatever the story has evolved into these days, further exacerbated the political wars that have not only held back the Trump agenda, but also discouraged Americans from re-unifying after the election cycle ended. Even the most fervent Trump-hating Americans, were they left to their own devices, would have likely realized that four years of Donald Trump would have little to no effect on their daily lives.
Instead, the ill-informed public has been whipped into a perpetual frenzy by media outlets and politicians on both sides of the aisle who continue to insist that the sky is falling. Constant threats and actions attempting to tie Donald Trump to Russian malfeasance by any means has catalyzed a system of retribution democracy. The quest to impeach Donald Trump has now been countered by veiled threats to investigate Uranium One, which would presumably encompass both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. All this backwards-looking, grievance-based gamesmanship hurts the American people the most. Little of note has been accomplished since Trump took office, as much as he continues to claim that a stock market bound for a correction is the direct result of his economic policies.
Washington, D.C. was intended to be a law-making body with checks and balances, not a forum for constant slandering and tabloid-worthy accusations against political opponents. The Democrats were asking for retribution when they insisted that Robert Mueller investigate, essentially with free reign, until he finds something that would be worthy of impeachment. Yet, when Uranium One special counsels are brought up, it is suddenly a move motivated by ‘politicization’.
The average American citizen is once again left to ride the pine, fuming as the man they elected to shatter this system of petty gamesmanship seems incapable of escaping its hydra-like effects. A Harvard/Harris Survey confirmed this view.
“The public thinks these investigations are hurting rather than helping our democracy but if there are going to be investigations, overwhelming majorities support investigating the Clintons - over two-thirds would investigate either both campaigns or just Hillary’s campaign,” said Harvard CAPS/Harris co-director Mark Penn.’ (The Hill)
To most Americans, it’s high-time that we stop investigating allegations of political wrongdoing and start investigating a way to completely topple what has long-been an embarrassing, cronyistic, and insular system of government that doesn’t represent the interests of the American people at all.