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Polarization, Fear, and Loathing in modern America

by Conner Williams 4 months ago in opinion

a partisan stock take of American Values

I moved to the US Mid 2015 not knowing that I would end up staying, not knowing that society would turn this way, even when it was pretty obvious that Bernie would not secure the nomination – I stayed and I was a fairly blind leftist hopeful 20 something. I have since lived out a journey of trial and tribulations laced with lofty idealism with attempted shortcuts to fame and glory, none the less. As I write this, as far as I can see, American Exceptionalism is in full swing again this Election season. Here is another fabled attempt by yours truly to give the gist of what is happening.

There is something to be said about the type of person who voluntarily decides to get a truck like a F-150, Ram 1500 or a Nissan Sierra. It says “I intend to do big things with my life, I consider myself somewhat Practical” – these Vehicles are anything but practical, with their forty acre turning circles and 2 Miles to the Gallon fuel rating.

Now take these vehicles and equip them with “Make America Great Again” Flags and Ironically a Gadsden and Blue lives Matter Bumper sticker (Let that set in). You can number that person as someone who is often White, Working Class, lives beyond the major city limits where fringe lifestyles are barely seen and are the “played too then forgotten after the election” demographic.

One of the mysteries in politics for decades now has been why white working-class Americans began to vote Republican in large numbers in the 1960s and 1970s. After all, it was Democrats who supported labor unions, higher minimum wages, expanded unemployment insurance, Medicare and generous Social Security, helping to lift workers into the middle class.

an alternative view, led by economist Milton Friedman, was that this turn toward the Republican Party was rational and served workers’ interests. He emphasized free markets, entrepreneurialism and the maximization of profit. These, Friedman argued, would raise wages for many and even most Americans.

Despite these turned Republican working-class voters never had the Know how to take advantage of any of this nor the capital. Wages did not rise. And yet many in the working class kept voting Republican, still seemingly angered by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, which was dedicated to helping the poor and assuring equal rights for people of color.

In the 1980s, under Ronald Reagan, income inequality began to rise sharply; wages for typical Americans stagnated and poverty and homelessness increased. Capital investment remained relatively weak despite deep tax cuts. At the same time, antitrust regulation was severely wounded, and giant corporations began to monopolize industry after industry.

Ultimately these working-class people who vote conservatively are falsely confident in their ability to take advantage of a totally free market, it is not say that they don’t try, According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20 percent of small businesses fail within their first year. By the end of their fifth year, roughly 50 percent of small businesses fail. After 10 years, the survival rate drops to approximately 35 percent. This because of several factors including lack of competition in each sector, an industry is already controlled by a Corporation or the education required to succeed is not there or easily accessible.

The right leaning working class of America is not foolish to have these ambitions or goals but they are foolish to believe that under the current version of late stage capitalism that is it possible to become Rich and wealthy to the like of that of Bezos and Musk.

Meanwhile modern-day College Bred Leftist Activism is experiencing another co-opting by the DNC. The social unrest America is witnessing, is unlike that of any younger generations have seen in their lifetime. The number of people flooding the streets in a show of rage, feels like something might be happening, but it is yet to be fundamental. Corporate America is enriching itself through the appropriation of anti-capitalist cultural leftism. Capitalists have co-opted the causes of anti-capitalists, and neither party is fully aware of the incongruity—least of all the leftists applauding a system they theoretically deplore.

While George Floyd’s killing was the spark, the flame that keeps this movement ignited is the animosity that is felt toward not only the police but the system that police were designed to protect. The younger generations must not get lazy and ease off just because every sporting franchise or corporation plasters Black Lives Matter on every screen, they must keep that animosity burning long after the first Tuesday in November.

What we have here is two clearly distinct fringe realities of America that could not be more against one another, making American democracy increasingly dysfunctional. A fixation on differences is fracturing America into warring tribes, threatening to turn the country into little more than a collection of grievance groups who believe that folks on the other side of the divide are the ones really tearing the nation apart. But what about Everyone else in the middle? If you think polarization is getting worse, you are not alone. Exit polls from the 2018 midterm elections showed that 76% of voters believe the country is becoming more divided.

America’s adversaries understand that polarization is the Achilles heel to US society. That is why Russia specifically targeted America's deepest divisions in their 2016 social media campaign. They disproportionately targeted white nationalists and black nationalists, stoking fears about Muslims, guns and illegal immigration while supporting the two most populist and polarizing candidates on the other side of the aisle, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

As a recent report from the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee stated: "operatives consistently used hot-button, societal divisions in the United States as fodder for the content they published through social media in order to stoke anger, provoke outrage and protest, push Americans further away from one another, and foment distrust in government institutions."

Many Americans are exposed to partisan news in their social media feeds and often have very few social media friends on the other end of the political spectrum. Online platforms, such as YouTube, use algorithms to expose viewers to increasingly extreme content, which can lead them to fringe political views without their realizing it. Spending time in a political echo-chamber can make it easier for negative feelings toward members of the other political party to develop.

The Rights you see in the American Constitution are preexisting to the government being formed, they are self-evident in nature. The government was setup to protect those right, not to dictate them. Part of the failing in modern America is that the majority is influencing what the government will eventually deem illegal. Which promotes a culture of Virtue and makes society obsessed with shallow moral victories

America was never nor will it ever be perfect but fact of the matter is that through History it has tried to get better, despite what some people may say about the speed of progress it is always a constant. a law. The truth to the matter is majority of Americans want to be part of productive society and reap the rewards of it.

So how did America get here?

In the 1960’s while working at UC Berkley Professor Herbert Marcuse said “Make love not war means; Tolerance of the left and intolerance of the Right, because if we tolerate the Right they might win and lord it over us, so we have to stop the right before it even gets started” This a major infringement upon the right to free speech. Free speech does not mean someone is correct, nor do you need to even acknowledge what they say.

If you fear that people saying something wrong can influence the majority, construct a better argument to sway that ‘evil influence’. And if you look back throughout American History, its exactly what the majority has done. However, Professor Herbert’s notion is flawed. It stems back to the notion that people are either inherently bad or inherently good – nature dictates that depending on the environment you are in, Humans can adapt to becoming either out of the necessity of survival.

If we view the world as Us vs Them, we will always find ourselves at odds with one another even at the individual level. You can see it happening right now across America with people shouting at other people across the street to “Put your Fucking Mask on!” when there is nobody else around.

The issue with this is not people’s right to free speech, it is education. If Americans are so scared of what the other is saying, then get up and show people why they are wrong. What you will find is after all the education. However, society will still find something to disagree upon, no matter the level of education. It will become a more sophisticated disagreement rather, which is preferable.

Getting to the point, how do you move past a disagreement? you find the middle ground. It is that simple. Start listening to one another, disagree and find the compromise. The Left is just as liable as the Right to this “all or nothing culture” it evokes tyrannical behavior and left unchecked will continue to drive the Polarization of the American people.

opinion

Conner Williams

Australian Transplant Living in The United States, Raised in a Rural community and appreciation for story telling instilled by my Grandmother. I read more than I write. Thanks for stopping by.

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