As election day draws near and COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in the United States, friends and families have been torn apart over opposing political opinions.
Since Donald Trump’s election as president in 2016, the Democratic and Republican parties are arguably more divided than ever before. This is no coincidence.
Approximately 70% of Americans believe the country’s political civility has worsened since his election, according to a poll conducted by National Public Radio, PBS NewsHour and Marist.
In his first four years of presidency, Trump carried the slogan “Make America Great Again,” insinuating the belief that Americans must resort to outdated behaviors to the nation. Considering the fact that many of his supporters have exhibited white supremacist values and blind nationalism, the nation hasn’t progressed.
In the past couple months, Trump has referred to racial sensitivity training as anti-American propaganda, mocked his presidential opponent Joe Biden for consistently wearing a mask during the pandemic and refused to denounce white supremacy on national television.
While the his incitement of prejudice, discrimination and harassment has emboldened his supporters to mirror his behavior in similar ways, it has understandably encouraged non-supporters to separate themselves from anyone with similar ideals.
However, with both sides pitted against each other and unwilling to hear each other out, no breakthroughs will ever be made and the country will never find unity.
Humans inherently possess different ideas and opinions, not to divide one another but to inspire and offer new perspectives. Cutting off friends and family over political disagreements takes away the opportunity to educate one another and promote growth in society.
The nation is regressing and it is the responsibility of the American people to fight against the hate that politicians like Trump love to promote.
Along with his massive influence, social media also plays a major role in the division of the American people.
The rise of social media apps, including Instagram and Twitter, offer users the opportunity to connect and learn from people with different cultures and beliefs.
However, many users choose not to take advantage of this and instead use social media platforms to follow people whose beliefs align with their own and unfollow or block those whose beliefs don’t.
This utilization of social media displays a false reality to users where they can easily ignore anyone who doesn’t agree with them, not realizing how drastically this affects their in-person interactions and damages their ability to have meaningful discussions.
While it’s ideal to fantasize about a world where everybody sees eye to eye with each other about a wide spectrum of topics, that’s all it is — a fantasy.
It’s understandable for individuals to disengage from friends and family members who uplift and incite discrimination and hate speech. However, it is also important to remember that exclusionary ideologies like racism, sexism and ableism have all been taught.
No one is born with these principles; everyone is capable of learning and growing.
The U.S. has become a very dark place. Instead of mourning the loss of over 200,000 people from COVID-19 and over 700 from police shootings just this year, many Americans have used these casualties to fuel their political agenda.
A person’s decision whether or not to wear a mask outside has become a symbol of their political affiliation. A teacher uploading a Black Lives Matter sign on her virtual classroom has been deemed “leftist indoctrination.”
So focused on the clash of left versus right, Democrats versus Republicans and liberals versus conservatives, the country has lost its humanity.
With the nation in turmoil, the American people need to stand against the division encouraged by its leader and unite under the values of forgiveness, equality and understanding. These values have the power to defeat hatred and intolerance.