My Broken, Divided Country

This Trump flag, carried into the US Capitol by protestors, says “Law and Order” on it.
How does trespassing on government property align with “Law and Order?”

Listening to arguments for and against the second impeachment of Donald Trump in the US House of Representatives the other night, I was struck by how much anger and contempt there was on both sides of the aisles. Democrats were angry with Republicans and Republicans were angry at Democrats and at those 10 representatives who crossed over to support Democrats in voting to impeach President Trump.

In my six decades of life as an American, I only remember our country being this divided once before. That was during the Vietnam War when there were hundreds of demonstrations against the war but many people who thought opposing it was a crime. “Our country, love it or leave it,” the conservatives said. Instead, law and order was emphasized, especially by Republican President Richard Nixon. That war was a big mistake. An estimated 1,353,000 people died in the conflict, between North and South Vietnamese soldiers, civilians and American soldiers. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War_casualties. Ultimately, the North Vietnamese won the war and took over the South. Now Vietnam, a one-party socialist country, has one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia.

Electing Donald Trump to the presidency was a huge mistake, too. But I always felt that way. Trump was a liar and cheat as a private citizen and he would be the same way as President. What I don’t yet understand is why so many people still support him. Why, for example, did 74 million Americans vote for him in November? What good did they see in him that I cannot see? Why do so many evangelical Christians support him, for example? The way Trump has behaved is the opposite of how Jesus behaved. Jesus said, “Love they neighbor as thyself.” Trump overflows with rage and hate. Why can’t people see that?

Most Republicans are White while the Democratic party has a greater majority of Black, Brown, and Asian people. Do many Republicans support Trump because he speaks to their fears about people of color, about Mexicans crossing the border and taking their jobs, or to their fears about Black people demonstrating in huge numbers and committing civil disobedience to demand equal rights?

As during Nixon’s time as president, “law and order” is a key theme for Republicans and it seems they resent people challenging the status quo. Indeed, during the house debate on impeachment, a few Republican representatives brought up the Black Lives Matter protests as just as bad as the takeover of the US Capitol by Trump supporters, if not worse. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla) said the following during the debate: “Make no mistake, the left in America has incited far more political violence than the right. For months, our cities burned, police stations burned, our businesses shattered. Some cited the metaphor that the president lit the flame. Well, they lit actual flames, actual fires,” Gaetz said, drawing loud boos from Democrats as he pointed to their side of the chamber. According to this NBC News article, as Gaetz began his speech, Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., lifted his right hand and pointed his finger to his head and twirled it as if to signal that Gaetz is crazy. This is a good example of the anger and scorn I mentioned earlier that seems out of control right now between the Democrats and Republicans.

Besides being horrified by the level of vitriol during the impeachment debate, I wonder why so many Republicans are no longer willing to trust the Democratic process and accept that Joe Biden won? Is it only because their side lost? Why would 139 Republican House members challenge the electoral college results? Do they truly believe the lies from Trump that the election was stolen? Of course, Trump will lie to hold onto power. He has been lying his whole four-year term in office and this has been documented by the press repeatedly. (https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/16/politics/fact-check-dale-top-15-donald-trump-lies/index.html.) But it is the Republicans’ support for the lying that is so surprising to me.

What has Trump done that is worthy of their support, their unquestioning devotion? According to a NY Times article about why people have supported Trump, key reasons relate to his policies. He has put conservatives on the Supreme Court, withdrew from the Paris climate accord, took on China, put America first, protected the border from illegal immigrants and presided over the lowest unemployment in 50 years before the pandemic. Many Trump supporters interviewed said the president’s grievances were their grievances, too. For example, “they believed kneeling during the national anthem was un-American, and they were appalled at what they viewed as liberals’ minimizing of violence that at times grew out of the protests over the killing of George Floyd.” For these Trump supporters, the lying President Trump did wasn’t as important as his policies as “all politicians lie,” according to many of those interviewed for the NY Times article. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/us/politics/trump-reelection-supporters.html.

In essence, it appears that policies matter more than character for Republicans. What someone does matters more than what they say or don’t say. Unfortunately, what Trump has said, that the election was a sham and illegally decided, that he won and Biden lost, has caused much chaos and violence. Even after the shocking events at the Capitol are many months in the past, some Trump supporters will still say that their man was the actual winner of the election. And that is why my country is so divided and so broken, because many citizens will no longer have faith in our democracy long after Trump has disappeared from the scene.

11 thoughts on “My Broken, Divided Country

  1. Hi Nancy, I have read this piece but struggled to make sense of some of the facts to reply in any articulate way. Mostly I think because words just fail me at this time. I don’t think I have ever struggled so much to form a coherent response. I just don’t get it. I just don’t. I am trying, as an outsider (not an American) to understand what is happening here and wondering why the rest of the world has watched this smouldering hornets nest of bile and hatred, lies and self promotion just knowing the flames would catch and the whole ‘thing’ was going to go up in flames. And so it has but there’s no sign of the fire trucks as far as I can see just everyone blaming each other for the fire! I am not a politician, I am not a ‘legal eagle’ but I like to think that I am a descent human being who knows right from wrong. I know it is wrong to spread hatred, to spread lies, to ridicule others, to line my own pockets by deceit, to try and force my opinions on others, to scare, threaten and malign. I could go on….these are the facts that I am struggling to make sense of. This man, I’m sorry but I have refused to name him or acknowledge his position for a long time now, is guilty of all of these deeds plus more and he has brought your country to it’s knees. Do you think this maybe what happens when a country thinks a game show host should be President?
    I didn’t know who he was before he ran for office. I mean, who he really was. I only knew he was a wealthy, philandering adulterer with a penchant for sleazy double-entendres and was constantly in the press for being so. I remember raising my eyebrows on hearing he was running for President as I hadn’t previously realised you could buy your way into that position. And then, with the clarity of a ringing bell 🔔 I heard the ‘pussy’ tapes from the bus. That message rang so clear it was like a clarion call. Here is a man with no respect for women, girls, daughters, wives, other men’s wives, the sanctity of marriage, the responsibility of parenthood etc etc ad infinitum ad nauseam…his election attempt dies here and now. But no, no this behaviour, these character traits we’re applauded, they earned votes….people actually voted for this. Most disgustingly for me women voted for this. I knew, the world external of America knew, a good percent of decent Americans knew but sadly not enough knew to stop it. I’d love to believe a minority set up this ‘God’ but the earth shattering fact is that enough voters saw a ‘saviour’. The smouldering heap of the Republican Government are guilty much harm and of self harm. I don’t pray anymore, American evangelicals cured me a long time ago of any wish to be associated with placard carrying, tub thumping, tongue speaking, holier than thou, if you don’t believe as I believe your going to Hell Christianity otherwise I would pray for America Nancy. I would pray for healing, I would pray for calm for respect, for patience, for peace. When a ‘patriot’ sees hell, damnation and disgust in someone who kneels before a flag but righteous approval to beat someone over the head with it you know all reason has been lost.
    Like you, I am absolutely speechless that 74million are so OK with all of this to the point where they will set fire to democracy. I’m sad Nancy…and I’m oh so sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, I am as bewildered as you why anyone in their right mind would support Trump, let alone 74 million Americans! Thank you for your thoughtful comments about this post!

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  2. I’m Northern Irish living in the UK with relatives in both Ireland and America and I am glued to MSNBC, CNN and all the others to try and get a ‘fair’ view of what is happening, and I share your anger and frustration. Having lived with prejudice for so many years I realise how difficult it is to dislodge the ‘fear of otherness’ and hatred brought about by tribal loyalties. With regard to America, it goes back further. Why did everyone turn their backs on Michigan when they voted to impose an outside head against the elected people of that state? It happened in the open and few objected. It was carried out and the result was the poisoning of the children of Flint. Has that been resolved yet? I don’t think so. It’s sad days for America and sad days for the world. We can only hope that the Republican party will come to their senses and see the evil in their midst. It’s been said so often but we still don’t listen (I paraphrase) – for bad things to happen it means only that good men do nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your many wise observations, Mari. I read that the people who poisoned the children of Flint, Michigan have finally been charged, thankfully. Little by little, justice is coming for those who commit evil. Hopefully a Biden presidency will speed that justice along for the sake of all Americans.

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  3. Hi Nancy
    We are locked down in Dublin (again). I used to work on technical process control. An American mathematician called Deming was a bit of a guru for all the right reasons then who showed that variability (i.e. inequality) in a process had to be controlled to within 2 standard deviations from the mean …otherwise the process was unpredictable and ‘out of control’.
    Same applies for societies.
    Evil people take advantage. Look at the Tory Brexiteers and the harm they have caused. I mean Jacob Reese-Mogg just claimed French and Irish spawned fish who swim in waters close to the English coast as Happy to be now ‘British’ fish. If he knew history (which most Brexiteers do not) he would know the word British never applied to the English. Like most things they have ..it was stolen from others, in this case the Celts ( the English came later). They don’t know they did cause our Famine in an act of Genocide (see Penal Laws and Trevellian).
    Reese-Mogg reregistered his main investment companies as Irish before Brexit completed…. maybe we should claim these fish like the Elgins…to help with the British strain….
    Best wishes for 2021 Nancy.
    Sean McGarry

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Sean. Yes, I know about Deming and Six Sigma. Between my career as a journalist and my job as a teacher, I ran a quality improvement consulting firm for 9 years tied to the Malcolm Baldrige performance excellence criteria. Have you heard of that? Things are a mess in the US and the UK right now. Thank your lucky stars that you are Irish and proud of it! Hope to see you and Elaine back in Spain one of these days!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You can’t blame people for feeling disenfranchised by the US government. Congrees is broken and has been for decades. The corporations and wealthy control the political process. The constitution is outdated. Separation of church and state is no longer.Not having a strong education system with Civics classes is a big reason why there are so many stupid people. 40% still, to this day approve of Trump. There needs to be enormous changes in the whole process. Unfortunately, we are watching the demise of democracy in the US.
    China is watching and waiting.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, there is much that is broken in the US right now, not just what I mentioned but what you have shared as well. The easy access to guns and frequent mass shootings is also a huge problem there. Let’s hope Biden can do some good!

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