My Turn: Disunited States of America

Published: 11/29/2020 2:21:47 PM

We live in the Disunited States of America. The results of the 2020 election show that clearly. The people who supported Donald Trump are a minority but a substantial one, and a coherent bloc — somewhere between 30 percent and 45 percent of the population. Those who opposed him are between 50 percent and 80 percent of the population.

The political division between these groups is not going away.

We can see the division right here in the op-ed section of The Recorder. There are reliable liberal voices such as John Bos, Dan Brown, and Carl Doerner, and reliable conservative voices such as Phill Grant, John O’Rourke, and Georgie Swinerton. We see Black Lives Matter protesters at the Greenfield Common and MAGA supporters at the entrance to the Big Y Plaza.

Each side somehow expects the other side to go away, but that’s not going to happen. The divisions are too deep and too strongly felt. They date back to pre-Revolutionary times, with the division between the agrarian South and the commercial/industrial North. The country split in two during the Civil War. It was politically reunited afterwards, but the fundamental conflicts remained. They continue to this day.

The North seemed to have won with Reconstruction, but the South regained control of its territory as a result of the Hayes/Tilden election of 1876. That election put an end to Reconstruction and left Blacks almost as badly off as they were in the days of slavery.

Since then, the fires of discontent have smoldered in the Black community. The racial divide persisted even through two world wars and burst out into the open in the ’50s. It interacted in complex ways with the economic divide between rich and poor; though Black people were mostly poor, working-class Whites were generally unsympathetic if not openly hostile to them.

I lament the division in and of itself. I would hope that both sides could at least agree on the tragedy of the division, but that is probably a vain hope. Sadly, even if such agreement were possible, it would not point to a way to bridge the divide.

Paul Abrahams is a resident of Greenfield.

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