My fellow Americans,
We have always disagreed with one another – once to the point of civil war. We drew the lines between us that exist to this day but wise leadership has pointed us to our potential as a nation built on ideals and, as Dr. King said, our arc is bent toward justice.
At least it was.
Until the infamous ‘Contract with America’ and the bile spouted by Newt Gingrich and his ilk, we were able to avoid a repeat of allowing our divisions to lead to mutual destruction. Instead, we inched toward redemption.
Then Gingrich came along and championed the notion of zero cooperation, so much so that our system of ‘finding a third way’ was obliterated. Or it the process of obliteration had its beginning in that moment. It was completed when the GOP was taken over by the Tea Party that was built on a platform of ‘no compromise, no way, no how.’
Privileged white men were reacting to the threat of change. Their racism, sexism and homophobia nurtured distrust, even hatred in the body politic. And so began their concerted effort to divide the union.
Side note: being a union is hard work. Harder than making a marriage work or blending a family. Add to that an atmosphere manufactured to encourage distrust, hate, and rejection on both sides and we have a recipe for a disaster of epic proportions, culminating with Trump.
The work of conservative extremists is almost done. Between threats to the fourth estate, upending agencies that protect the citizenry, lies, and trashing the norms of civility, Trump has brought us to the brink of self-destruction. And guess what? The nemesis of my childhood, a large chunk of the nation formerly known as the USSR, is fanning the flames of our distrust and dislike (dare I say ‘hatred’?) of one another. They are doing this with bots infiltrating our social media, stoking the fears and anger of both the left and the right.
So I beg you, fellow Americans, to refuse to be baited. You can be conservative and I can be a flaming progressive and we can still figure out how to make it work. We can take a breath and recognize the way our fear of one another is being manipulated. You can be straight, white, a person of color, black lives can matter as well as the lives of queer, trans, redneck, feminist, disabled, old, young and even female people, but we all need to be smart enough not to be manipulated and baited into distrusting and disliking one another. We need to be political athletes that can compete with one another, respect each other’s strengths, and identify each other’s weaknesses. In the end we are both necessary to play a vigorous game of democracy.
After too many years of the GOP and it’s ‘win at all costs’ philosophy and knowing that Russian bots are working to alienate us from the inside, it is time to refuse to participate. It’s the only way to cure what ails us.