We are certainly more divided than we think
In his July 27, 2004 keynote addressing the Democratic National Convention in Boston, the then U.S. Senate in Illinois, Barack Obama, reflected on how divided our country was:
“The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”
These words are supposed to echo loudly through the minds of those who believe that America is a one country, and that we hold greater values that unite us than divide us. Yet, here we are 12 years later, and Obama’s voice was never heard. The fundamental to this problem lies in how the system continues to polarize our opinions and our views. No longer can we agree to meet in the middle, not by far – blame it on the pundits, I suppose.
But who are those pundits? In his book titled Public Intellectuals, Josef Joffe describes “the decline of the public intellectual and the rise of the pundit,” and correlates it with the evolution of audience and the media. This is true because we live in an age where we are constantly bombarded with news feeds and headlines from social media and from news networks. Our opinions and personal beliefs have been replaced with the trust and reliance on media to make conclusions for us. Polarizing as they may be, we never take the time to assess the validity of these news feeds or even consider their motives. The longer we engage in partisanship practices of conservative news networks such as that of the Fox News Channel, or their liberal adversaries, CNN, or MSNBC, the more we contribute into this faulty system.
According to the Pew Research Center’s article about partisanship and political animosity, “16% of Republican and 20% of Democrats agree with their party’s policy stances.” Yes! we should be advertising this! I find it difficult to believe that people agree with their parties’ policies one hundred percent of the times, and have been criticized in the past for supporting “underdog” presidential candidates like John Kasich and Bernie Sanders who shy away from their parties agendas and call upon both parties to focus on fixing the bigger problem. In the same article, it was found that the majority of Fox News audience are Republicans and Republican-leaning independents; while the majority of CNN audience were Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents. In addition, there has been a shift on how often Republicans or Democrats have relied on these networks as major news sources. Between 1998 and 2002, most people received their news from both networks. However, since 2004, there has been a considerable and an ongoing shift of Republicans toward Fox news, and Democrats towards CNN. As can be seen, these news networks are succeeding in polling followers and continue to polarize citizens into two opposing directions. The main issues facing our country have been forgotten as each political party, candidates, and news networks continue to criticize and blame the other. We are falling victims to pundits who like to tell us that our opinions don’t matter.
The recent presidential election was a proof that the majorities are not being heard. We’ve seen that our nation is divided within each political party views. The democrats were split between Sanders and Hilary supporters, the republicans between Trump supporters and conservatives. Because of this, we know have a white house that is driven by the rich and is leading this country backward. We have a president who is savaging our closest European allies and is siding with countries that encourage national terrorism. We have a president who is effortlessly trying to demean our first amendment. This new white house seems to forget that this country was built by immigrants, and that we are a unified nation.
In summary, we need not to forget that we are a united nation, and what’s good for one party is good for the entire country. We cannot be passive and numbed every time somebody tells us that our opinions are wrong. We need to speak loudly with one voice to make our opinions heard.