When the pandemic first emerged (probably in December, but according to the White House not until March or so) the nation pretty much rallied around the feeling that we are all in this together, so let’s play by the rules and do everything we can to limit the damage. It was not unlike the days after 9/11, when there was a “united we stand” defiance against terrorists.
It’s sad to see how quickly that unity of purpose evaporated and the nation split between those who believe the science that the pandemic is still a threat and those who claim they have a right to return to their normal way of life. In Wisconsin, when the state Supreme Court threw out the state’s stay-at-home order, within hours bars were packed wall to wall, standing room only, with mask-less patrons crammed together partying.
I cannot say with certainty the split is pretty much divided along political lines, but you do see a lot of Trump hats and reelection signs at the “you can’t tell me what to do” demonstrations, and the language that they use is seemingly straight from the alt-right playbook. How quickly some folks went from begging the government for help in limiting the spread of the virus (or demanding more ventilators or masks and gowns) to berating the feds for keeping the tavern doors locked.
And that split seems to have become the new normal in this country. Almost nothing hits the news that isn’t instantly politicized and labeled as some sort of conspiracy. Reasonable voices are drowned out by angry shouts and insults on the other guy’s position. Those who don’t agree with YOUR position are nefarious traitors secretly trying to bring down the country. It is truly exhausting — and disheartening.
It is hard to think of a convincing answer when your kids take all this in and ask, “What the hell kind of world have you left us?” No, they’re not talking about the pandemic or the evaporating economy.
Frankly, the world has always been divided, and there were times when it took violence and drama to force the nation to focus on fixing issues such as racism, climate change, women’s rights and foreign wars. But as much as we might have been divided on these issues, there was a certain “OK, let’s just agree to disagree” attitude that has been replaced by abject anger and threats.
I have done my share of stink-stirring — especially over that idiot in the White House — but I have never demeaned or threatened anyone who supports that amateurism. In fact, I give most folks a pass if their main reason to vote for Mr. Combover was a distain for Hillary. But I’m always quick to add, “Now that you have seen him in action, don’t you agree we need an adult back in charge?”
Not every development needs to be handled like a constitutional crisis. Not every disagreement calls for demonstrations and confrontations that threaten the safety of those on either side of the picket lines.
I suppose there is merit in “getting involved” in supporting issues important to you, but leave your guns, Confederate flags and tiki lamps at home.