- By Lt. Tim McMillan
What Happens To "We The People" When People Don't Like "The People?"
I have never wavered from the fact that the primary basis of my writings, and attempts to reach out to people has always been to share the truth. In fact, I take careful consideration and time in making sure that any topic I do not have intimate personal knowledge on, I use any means available to investigate and arrive at the purest of conclusions before I publish anything. Now, often my subject matters involve emotionally charged topics, so some people can be flat-out antagonistic no matter how wholesome the truth is that I share. I have come to learn over time that non-partisanship and an allegiance to truth and righteousness, can be a widely alien concept to some people. For this reason, often I am categorized by whatever group that appear to share the ideological ideas consistent with the particular topic that I am discussing
Honestly, it is a fascinating phenomenon for me to experience, because on any one day I may be considered to be, a liberal, conservative, pro-police, anti-police, etc. I have also come to realize that the polarization of ideas and beliefs is the ultimate reason of why humanity faces so much divisiveness right now. It is as if people have developed this sense that everything in life is strictly segregated into belief systems, and any moderation in one’s thinking is merely the stuff of fairy tales.
Truthfully, it is not a surprise why individuals are compelled to choose a side in life. People are not only expected to choose a "team" they are also supposed to hunker down below the surface of logical thinking to support that team. The "loyal to your team at a fault" attitude is the exact position that is consistently displayed by our nation’s political leaders. I posted an article yesterday about Marco Rubio making a very honest and candid speech that the country could soon reach a point where it would not be able to solve the simplest of issues because no one seems to be willing to debate or disagree respectfully anymore. Now, as many people pointed out yesterday, though Rubio’s speech was spot on, his actions have not represented an individual who was willing to consider logical and rational debate as a method of arriving at conclusions. In essence, Rubio is just as guilty of the vast majority of other politicians. They will support their team and vote along party lines regardless of what is at stake.
Beginning in 1989, the likelihood of political representatives voting across their party line is virtually non-existent. Now, it is easy to assume that the political climate of the last twenty-eight years is simply the way it has always been.
What this graphic demonstrates is the roll call voting spectrum of the U.S. House of Representatives based on their particular party of affiliation from 1949 to 2011. As representatives vote across party lines, the graphic grows larger and darker. What this graphic demonstrates is remarkable. It clearly, shows how divided our political parties have become and how unwilling they are to work with each other. The researchers that produced the peer-reviewed and published study, also concluded that members of political parties are voting in contrasting ways on roll call vote more than they ever have. Additionally, disagreements along party lines appear to be increasing exponentially, at roughly 5% per year. The following graphic shows the rise in political disagreements by votes cast.
The conclusion the researchers arrived at should be no shocker to anyone, which was that partisanship and the inability to compromise or work together correlates with a failure to introduce and pass legislation. Ultimately, this demonstrates on a scientific level what we already know to be true on a personal level, which is bipartisanship in the United States has rapidly dissolved. Amazingly, it was the nation’s ability to compromise, albeit slowly at times, that made America great, yet we seem to have forgotten how actually to do it.
The fact that our nation’s politicians are refusing to work together is something that can be stipulated as fact, since the evidence clearly demonstrates this. However, this brings up a “what came first? The chicken or the egg?” debate. In essence, who initiated the unwillingness to work together, the people or the politicians?
One good indicator of how well the people are willing to engage in inclusiveness amongst their fellow human beings is to examine relationships along racial lines. The reason race is a good Litmus test of people’s willingness to work together, is because race and ethnicity are intrinsically obvious differences amongst people. In 1995, a year when the political divide amongst party voting lines was, at the time, the highest levels in history, a research poll found that only 36% of Americans considered race relations in America to be fairly good or very good. However, views on race relations would dramatically improve over the next fifteen years, peaking in 2009 with 77% of people saying that race relations were fairly good or very good. Unfortunately, the years after 2009 have seen race relations in a free fall decline, with a poll published in 2016 suggesting that Americans viewed race relations at an all-time low with only 34% of people viewing race relations favorably.
In light of the oscillation of the American people’s willingness to work together in the last twenty years, one aspect remained consistent. Politicians remained divided, and there were no significant acts of bipartisanship by our elected leaders. In essence, if indeed race relations are indicative of the people’s willingness to cooperate, then the blame for the polarization of our leadership cannot rest at the feet of the citizens. Rather, it is our elected leaders whose hands are covered in the blood of divisiveness. Or are they?
There are stark differences in the average citizen in 1995 and the ordinary citizen in 2017. For one thing, the amount of news media, and the competitiveness of news media is at an all-time high. Most importantly, the availability of information has never been more accessible to the average American. The important side-effect of the ease of available of information is the resulting availability of misinformation.
Individuals who get their kicks out of misinforming or duping other people is not new to social media or the internet. In reality, urban legends, chain letters, and fake news articles in print have existed for a very long time. However, the difference now is that individuals and organizations have the ability to accurately target people for the dissemination of biased, misleading, or deceitful information. In fact, one only needs to target very few individuals to spread misleading information.
If you were to look at your friend’s list right now on your Facebook page, what would it look like? I am willing to bet for the overwhelming majority of you, your social media friend’s group is representative of all similarly like-minded, like ethnic or culturally based individuals. Indeed, you may have had a few “friends from high school” in your friend’s list at one point that may have had starkly contrasting views from your own. However, a good number of those friends with contrasting views probably got their asses deleted from your friend’s list this past election cycle.
Superficially, why wouldn’t you delete someone from your social media contacts, and de facto your life, if they exhibited behaviors or thoughts that prevented you from being friends with them? Well, the reality is that the actual “friendship” was an illusion, to begin with, because a significant number of us have a whole lot of social media “friends” that we actually wouldn’t want to hang out with in real life.
What this has ultimately resulted in is individual’s ability to stay confined within their own cultural outlooks, political beliefs, and amongst similarly-minded people. People don’t even have to consider any dissenting or differing opinions regarding life because you can just delete them and make them disappear. In essence, we don’t try to get along, because, in the modern world, we don’t have too. It doesn’t even matter if something is factual or not. If we don’t like the truth, we just delete it and stick it out with our pre-existing beliefs or feelings.
In the end, now we have people that don’t have to and are unwilling to cooperate with others unless they are like-minded, and a group of elected leaders who were already reluctant to be bipartisan. Welcome to the 21st century and the great era of divisiveness. Children born in the 1980’s and 1990’s are considered to be millennials or Generation Y. Honestly, it is fitting that the future leaders of the world will be from Generation Y. Because at the rate we are going, the millennials will be the “Generation Y don’t you get the f%#& out of my face with that bulls&#@ generation.”
Does it have to be like this? No. The reality of inclusiveness or willingness for humanity to cooperate with each other will have, to begin with, the people, not the elected leaders. If people remembered that the politicians work for the people, then they might realize it’s ok to say to a politician in your particular party of support, “Hey! It is not ok to say or do that!” Now before one locks into accusing one side of the political spectrum of being the guilty party of being unwilling to call their politicians to the carpet, let’s not forget in the last few weeks, Democrats have been revolting against their elected politicians for not being more antagonistic against Republican officials. In essence, Democrat supporters have told their politicians don’t you dare work with those right-sided jerks! Now, it must also be acknowledged that much of the Republican base has not presented policies or ideas that are close to being something that liberals can even stomach. So indeed, Republican power holders aren’t exactly extending an olive branch either.
In the end, the United States of America was founded by the people, for the people and the only way we will perish is if the people fail to want to work with each other as people. Ultimately, we are the people. Not, one political party, not one religion, not one race, not one gender, not one educational background, not one ethnicity, not one sexual orientation, not any one single definable attribute can be used to sum us all up, other than the terms American, or Human Being. The potential for this country to be a guiding light for good and a beacon of hope for every single person is limitless. However, it will begin, or it will end the same way it was founded, by the people.