Opinion: The American Nightmare
CJ Lewis 12.8.2020
The kindest thing, in my opinion, is the reassurance of beliefs. The fundamental idea that what we know is true, the idea that what we know cannot be contested or pushed beyond their comprehension. But this truth, beyond a shadow of a doubt, cannot hold forever. This idea is more or less what has become of American politics; a proverbial game of right and wrong, a game of false truths and perpetual bickering amongst an audience of sheep. Whether it be the race between Biden and Trump, Obama and Romney, Jefferson and Adams, American politics as a whole have always been some form of conflict. It is only now that we have found out its negative consequences, most of which have divided fellow Americans even further than the 2016 election.
But how have we come to this moment in time? How have we fallen so far from grace? It begins rather subtly during the Civil War, when brother fought against brother in their own form of ‘just causes’. Slavery was a hot button issue leading up to the conflict, which was not only an issue regarding morality but also economic consequences. The southern states of America relied heavily on the free labor many slaves had become known for, as heavy work was needed to grow cash crops like cotton in order to be profitable. With the invention of the cotton gin came an increase in demand for slaves, many of them originating from Africa and South America in the years leading up to the inevitable war that would split the country in half. However, with the growth of slavery came those who wished for it to end, as many had grown disgusted by the thought of such abhorrent practices. The south knew that their way of life would come to an end eventually, so they decided to rise up as the Confederate States of America as a way of fighting for their bottom line. In the end, many of the men who rose up against the federal government would inevitably be cut down by volley fire.
The Civil War came and went, leaving a major impact on those who were there to witness it. Some became bitter with defeat, others disheartened by the needless bloodshed that had left a permanent mark upon those who were so close to death. But with this defeat began a division between the newly made Republicans and the Democrats, which would become even more evident in the years to come.
Many years would pass, now going from the 1860s all the way to the early 1960s. The division between both liberals and conservatives boiled over in one topic; the idea of civil rights and the desegregation of African Americans. The more conservative areas of American society defended segregation wholeheartedly, as they believed in upholding certain traditions that were imposed after the introduction of Jim Crow laws in the early 1870s, while the majority of America’s black population wished to finally be set free from the prejudices that had been set up by the former Confederate States of America many years ago. With the aid of figures like President John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X, they managed to help bring in Civil Rights for the African Americans that inhabited America, with black voting rights following soon after . The divisions between both democrat and republican proved to have only increased since then, especially in the years following the movement.
While divisions between the Democratic and Republican parties had existed since the founding of the United States, it was these two events that helped facilitate the aggression between these two groups. In recent years, the aftermath of these events manifested in the societal violence between both liberal and conservative members as of 2016. After Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, a group of outraged leftists began protesting the newly elected president, as they believed that Trump was put into power by foreign means. The 2017 Women's March is currently estimated to be the biggest gathering of American individuals in one single day. On the other side of the spectrum, in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Unite the Right rally was orchestrated by those associated with the far right, more specifically white supremisist groups, related to various forms of fascism. A common sign of both parts of the spectrum is this: hatred, avarice, and a lack of social awareness.
With both sides of the political spectrum at each other’s throats, it is no surprise that our current status as a society has become more divided than ever, with some pointing out the similarities between our division and the divisiveness between slave and anti-slave states before the Civil War. While there is no guarantee as to when our division will end, one thing is clear. Hatred begets hatred, fear begets fear, and ignorance begets ignorance.