In recent years, a terrifying bifurcation in U.S. political ideology has occurred, in Republican and Democratic camps alike. According to Pew Research Center statistics, political polarization is growing at an ever increasing clip. It seems everyone can feel the ever-rising tide of animosity and vitriol. The schism between neighbors, families and friends puts our future in a more precarious position every day it continues to widen.
The data tells the story: In 1994, 16% of Democrats viewed the Republican Party as “very unfavorable”. Members of the GOP held “very unfavorable” views of Democrats at a slightly higher rate of 17%.
Let that sink in for a moment. Only 23 short years ago, on both sides, it was but a small minority that viewed the opposite side of the aisle with any serious antipathy.
As of 2014, 38% of Democrats harbored real acrimony toward their more conservative counterparts. For Republicans the number is even higher, at a rate of 43%. There is no question that today those numbers are significantly higher than they were even then.
So, what happened?
It wasn’t the Alt-Right, and it wasn’t Antifa. Those groups are symptoms of a larger, nastier disease. The division we face was caused by intolerance. Not of any race, gender or religion, but intolerance of diversity in thought.
According to Pew Research Data, in 2001, 57% of Americans opposed gay-marriages, including former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Today, the rate of disapproval has plummeted, with only 32% of Americans believing in traditional marriage. How could society have turned one-hundred-eighty degrees in such a short amount of time?
In the year 2017, if you’re brave enough to tell anyone that you believe in traditional marriage (no matter your reasoning), you’re branded a bigot, a religious zealot, or worse.
Don’t believe transgender individuals should be eligible for military service?
Think citizens should prove who they are by showing ID, prior to casting a ballot?
Believe abortion is murder?
Why you believe what you believe doesn’t matter. Your beliefs are wrong and you need to be re-educated in matters of intersectionality and diversity.
The Alt-Right rose from this bubbling cauldron of steadfast leftist intolerance. Alt-Righters embraced the names hurled at them for years by media, politicians and Hollywood, and the blanket of political correctness that forced any semblance of past restraint had, in meaning, become so thread-bare, that white nationalists within the movement were able to casually throw it aside. Then, in 2016, Hillary Clinton inadvertently brought them to the forefront of the nation’s attention in a speech she hoped would cast a negative light on her then-opponent, Donald Trump. A group which previously occupied basements now had the numbers to congregate at rallies.
The monsters that fill the ranks of the Alt-Right are evil. Every decent American should condemn their actions and their message.
Meanwhile, the Alt-Right’s counterpart, Antifa, arose through unfettered progressivism and political correctness, allowed to run rampant by mainstream Democrats. The ironically named anti-fascists, could have done real, positive good in the world by peacefully protesting Nazis, white nationalists, anti-Semites and Alt-Righters. They could have been an example for our nation. Instead, black bloc fascist militants wore bandanas and carried baseball bats and batons. This is a group that has committed vandalism and violence, and was responsible for over $100,000 in property damage at Berkeley alone.
The animals that fill the ranks of Antifa are evil. Every decent American should condemn their actions and their message.
From the left, a disturbing cognitive dissonance has emerged. Republicans have near universally condemned the KKK, White Nationalists and the Alt-Right. I’m still waiting to hear a majority of Democrats disown Antifa. When that happens, conservatives and progressives can stand together and fight that which threatens our society and citizens. Together, we can beat these groups back into obscurity and return to a political culture that understands, tolerates and embraces differing opinions. What I’m asking for isn’t much, just a simple condemnation of violence. Democrats, we’re standing here with a hand outstretched, please don’t leave us holding our breath.