America: More Divided, or Just Angrier?

By Joe Nelson

Media outlets and trusted political figures continue to feed the drumbeat of political polarization. “Americans are more divided than ever,” and “a bleak future lies ahead,” are constants in an elite media empire that thrives on division, instability, and catchy headlines to support a 24/7news cycle (Associated Press, n.d). There is no chance of survival for a new-age media if there are no disagreements, tragedies, or political drama to capitalize and profit from; therefore, the media creates the contention themselves. The underlying question, if answered, would be checkmate for the media fallacies: Is America really more divided than ever before, or has the advent of social media, and the voice it gives all Americans, created a knee-jerk anger that amplifies the already present division?

The relevance of such debates can be understated. People question why increased division in a country of fifty states united even matters. America is a melting pot of citizens who are encouraged to be unique individuals. So, what if Americans are angry and hateful in their own minds? This division directly effects how citizens interact with one another and ultimately creates the pathway for their endeavors toward life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness whether it truly exists or is only perceived. This debate influences policy and lays the foundations of interpersonal communication for generations.

The 2020 election cycle revealed to observers how much the perception of division matters. Media outlets glorified anger and purposefully published articles to trigger emotions and discourage logical thinking (Wright, 2020). Stories that provide the cause and then immediately follow up with the end effect leave little room to avoid division and anger. Reports such as these lead viewers to believe because party “A” took an action that effect “Z” occurred, therefore party “A” must be “bad”, and the viewer must be angry. This type of reporting creates an environment that thrives on and entices viewers into narrow mindedness. The “justified” anger then encourages “justified” aggression towards anyone with an opposing view. Those who dare to inquire about the unspoken alphabet that exists between A-Z are chastised, cancelled, labeled, and shunned from society. Recent trends have gone a step further by attempting to criminalize the vote of United States citizens (Li, 2020). These efforts are amplified by popular media promoting such decisive and hateful rhetoric in the name of anti-terrorism efforts (Shuster, 2021). It is no wonder there continues to be so many squeaky wheels in need of grease during these times of intensified division. It doesn’t matter the affiliation, the loudest voices demand the most attention.

The media is the hammer that continues to drive a wedge between the American people, while the politicians act as the anvil. Elected officials are complacent and complicit, allowing it to exist because they have become too comfortable. Without term limits, and with unyielding power, politicians have been able to enrich themselves by selling influence, creating their own set of laws, and living within a protected bubble that has yet to be popped. An America more divided is an America easier to exploit. Officials whose livelihoods literally rely on re-election can only thrive with one thing, re-election. It has become blindingly obvious to the average American that those in power will exploit whomever and whenever to retain their livelihood and power. Elected officials have proven that without limits to their power, they will sell themselves to the highest bidder regardless of devotion to America or their constituents. Not all is lost as data provides a reflection of unity among a divided country.

The truth is America is not more divided than ever before. The numbers speak despite overwhelming voter turnout and record votes for both presidential candidates. President Biden won against President Trump with a 51%-47% margin. In a country “never before this divided,” 51 out of 100 Americans voting for Joe Biden is almost a 50/50 split. Prior elections have been similar; however, no candidate in the past several decades has exceeded 53 out of 100 votes (To270Win.com, 2021).

America will move forward as a Constitutional Republic, but it is imperative for the people to see the forest through the trees. There has always been a class of elites whose sole existence relies on exploiting the vulnerable and manipulating the masses. This elite has only recently become louder, angrier, and less considerate of the consequences. Society will be better-served listening to the calm voices who often benefit society as they speak softly and carry a big stick. They are the ones who JFK exemplified when he stated, “what unites us is greater than what divides us.” (JFKLibrary.org, n.d). That is the America for all Americans.

References

Associated Press. (n.d). Divided America. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from: https://www.ap.org/explore/divided-america/JFKLibrary.org.

(n.d). Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Democratic City Committee Annual Pre-Election Dinner, Easton, Pennsylvania, October 30, 1957. Retrieved march 18, 2021, from:

https://www.jfklibrary.org/archives/other-resources/john-f-kennedy-speeches/easton-pa-19571030

Li, S. (22 October, 2020). Yep, I’m Saying it Again: If You Vote for Trump, You’re a Racist. Retrieved from: https://yhoo.it/376NTdP

Shuster, S. (18 January, 2021). Everyone Think I’m a Terrorist: Capitol Riot Fuels Calls for Domestic War on Terror. Retrieved from: https://time.com/5930592/everyone-thinks-im-a-terrorist-capitol- riot-fuels-calls-for-domestic-war-on-terror/

To270Win.com. (n.d). Historical Presidential Elections. Retrieved March 18, 2021, from: https://www.270towin.com/historical-presidential-elections/

Wright, R. (3 July, 2020). To the World, We’re Now America The Racist and Pitiful. Retrieved from: https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/to-the-world-were-now-america-the-racist-and-pitiful