Photo via Wikimedia Commons
This past summer, American cities were mercilessly attacked by left-wing extremist organizations like BLM and Antifa, which established a country in Seattle and instigated riots which caused about 25 deaths. In just the first week of 2021, five people were killed during a raid of the Capitol Building conducted by right-wing extremists. After these incidents, many Americans have seen their political parties grow more extreme and uncompromising.
These rebellions were perpetrated by reprehensible people, and they should encourage Americans to realize the dangers of devout, dogmatic partisanship. Instead, they have pushed liberals and conservatives into defensive positions, each slandering the other in a perpetual blame game. However, the threat lies not in either party but in political polarization itself.
For instance, consider the controversial nature of President Donald Trump. Conservatives exalt him as the antithesis of a corrupt political establishment, a true and earnest representative of a people displeased with governmental abuse. Alternatively, liberals paint him as a racist bigot seeking to undermine democracy for his own personal gain.
The former is a grandiose oversimplification, whereas the latter is patently untrue. However, the existence of these viewpoints proves that Trump himself is not the source of America’s ills. Rather, he is a public manifestation of underlying sentiments that Americans have already held for years.
President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, though seen by many as the magic solution to political division, will inevitably disappoint. As polarization has already built to a fever pitch, independently of Trump or his actions, the election of any 2020 candidate would have produced national uproar. Were Trump re-elected, cities would reel from the wrath of Antifa; fires ignited by the group raged already on election night, even before a winner had been called.
To solely blame liberals or conservatives — or any national actors, such as Trump — for political division is to perpetuate the problem.
Legitimate national healing can only result from the rejection of partisan charades and the collective realization of a common American identity. This identity must be rooted in history, a philosophy that values civil liberties as sanctified by God, and a universal commitment to the improvement of the Union.
Until each party rejects its sense of entitlement, its belief that it is being abused by the other and that, as a victim, it deserves compensation, violence will be continually practiced by those on the right and left.