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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/28/15

American Political Divide Threatens The Nation

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At the outset of his race to the White House as a Republican candidate, Donald Trump was the front runner by far. He started off addressing a sore spot with a lot of Republicans; the illegal immigration issue. In his now infamous speech he said, "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. ["]They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." These statements were immediately met with 2 things: companies that had partnerships with Trump dissolving any relationship with him in horror, and Republican voters flocking to him in droves.

His polarizing stance on everything from women's issues to the economy to the current President's citizenship struck a chord with Americans and showed us how far apart America has grown. Politics works best when people work together towards goals that we can all agree on. But when the goals that each side is espousing are so diametrically opposed, is the system broken?

Trump and his views have outraged liberals and have appealed to conservatives, if polling numbers are any indication. With this kind of schism, it is no wonder that people seem to think that conservatives and liberals will never get along. Even seeming to get along can get you in trouble, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) lambasted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for giving Obama "a big hug." You can't even be courteous with the head of the country if he's on the wrong side of the isle.

There have been many studies that suggest the division between conservatives and liberals is so stark, that you can see the difference in the MRIs of Republicans and Democrats. Our differences show up in unexpected ways, like the fact that we even vacation differently with liberals preferring urban destinations and conservatives looking for beaches far more often.

With the great political divide this country is facing, the future if our country is unstable at best. The media on both sides are biased and driven to burn the opposition further sowing seeds of discord. This kind of reporting is a rather recent development as it wasn't always this way.

In fact, there was something known as the "Fairness Doctrine," that said that discussion of controversial issues should not exclude any particular point of view. It was in place to avoid the kind of political posturing seen in the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart, or Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. Media outlets weren't allowed to be liberal or conservative, and news had to be reported with a neutrality that allowed people to come to their own conclusions.

Studies have shown that this kind of bias in media and the web creates echo chambers that exacerbate issues to the point of absurdity and blinds us to other perspectives and views. Without differing opinions and with more people getting their "news" from social media, we come to believe some really scary things. Many Americans are isolating themselves from varying opinions and views, and never has that been easier than today. Opinions and even facts that don't fit into the worldview are discarded without any scrutiny, impairing people's ability to empathize with those outside of their ideology.

As a country, America is doomed to these petty squabbles for power if we can't even shake hands with someone on the other side of the negotiating table without being branded a traitor to all that is good and true. We will never be able to heal as a nation if we allow this division stop the conversation before it even starts.

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Mordecai is a freelance writer with aspirations to start his own consulting firm. He has traveled the globe and speaks 4 languages. In his spare time, he plays and repairs guitars and loves videogames.

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