We’re not just divided between Blue America and Red America, Democrat and Republican, right and left. We’re divided within our own tribes. And the internal fights can be the angriest, meanest and most bitter of all.
Three factors fuel our political – and social and cultural – fights: population patterns, gerrymandering and how we use social media.
Democrats seem as angry at other Democrats as they are at Republicans. Republicans may be worse.
Republicans are divided over Trump. But anti-Trumpers are either cowed or cast out. Now Republicans are divided over whether a man who preyed on girls as young as 14 should be a United States Senator.
Democrats are just as divided – between left and center, Bernie-ites and Hillary-ites and black and white. Some African-Americans want to take Jim Hunt’s name off the Sanford-Hunt-Frye dinner because he endorsed Nancy McFarlane. (Irony alert: Governor Hunt appointed Henry Frye as the first black Chief Justice.)
All this reflects today’s world. People who are mobile move to be near people who share the same values, beliefs and politics. People who aren’t mobile are stuck in places falling into failure, despair and bitterness.
Then there’s gerrymandering. An unintended consequence of having fewer competitive districts is that everyone’s anger, energy and fighting spirit is channeled into primary contests. You can’t beat the other party, so you beat up on each other.
Then there’s Facebook and Twitter. It’s easy to blame them. But is it their fault how we use social media? We use it to jack ourselves and our friends up: “Look at this outrageous thing that (Trump/Hillary/Sessions/Schumer/Ryan/Pelosi/Pick Your Poison did/said today!”
The Onion, as usual, sums up what we do to ourselves online: “Woman Who Had Almost Formed Healthy Sense Of Self Rejoins Social Media.”
Maybe Trump just reflects who we are now.