We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.Preamble, U.S. Constitution – James Madison (1787)
We love to rush everything nowadays. If you are not sharing your thoughts the moment something unfolds you are too late nowadays. I took a couple of days, just under a week, to collect my thoughts and let the anger, shock and immediate outrage drop a little.
Every couple of months there is always someone on Twitter talking about how the United States is on the verge of collapse, how civil war is imminent, and how this country can no longer coexist between our two partisan ideologies. The past twelve months are the first time I have actually not dismissed it out of hand. Our wonderful little preamble is simply a nice little Civics poem rather than anything our nation ascribes to.
A more perfect Union? Good one. Our partisan hatred is at an all-time high since the Civil War literally separated the country. Establish Justice? Again, hysterical. Our judicial system is predatory cronyism at its best and we as a people do not even have an idea of what justice looks like. Common defence? Once again, James Madison with the jokes. Our defense budget is massive, and the results to show for are embarrassingly low.
As expected as it may sound, the United States is anything but united right now. Our perfect union is now a partisan union held together by one national pastime: screaming our hatred at the other side about how they are about to destroy our country.
This past year, things have boiled over. We started the year of 2020 with an impeachment proceeding, charges of treason against President Trump. We quickly moved into a pandemic that freightened the nation, catching it by surprise. Then came the protests and riots of this past summer following a handful of police shootings of African American citizens that boiled over. By the time we had forgotten about that, we quickly moved into an election, always the most unifying of times naturally…We never even caught our breathes, as immediately after the election, President Trump began his accusations of voter fraud. Actually, to be fair, I think both parties started alleging fraud well before the summer, but who can keep track of 2020 at this point.
Part of me does not even think the rioters storming the Capitol was the worst part of this last week. It’s shocking to even say considered that people actually died during this. But no, the worst part was seeing the joy that many Democrats had, realizing that some Republicans had finally gone too far. The worst part was seeing how quickly many Republicans looked for a way to turn the blame towards Democrats in the aftermath, all the while the National Guard had to use tear gas to clear out our nation’s capitol building. The worst part was hearing reports that the President would not step in to stop this, allegedly out of spite for his own misfortunes. While the Capitol Police were still clearing the building, our elected officials sharpened their knives and turned their sights against each other, seeking to win this controversy by laying the blame at the others feet. We could not even take five minutes before the blame game started.
Quite simply, we hate each other. There’s no other way around saying that. We hate each other and we have built a system that simply goes for the kill rather than self-reflects. The aftermath of our tragedies have become even more horrific than many of the tragedies themselves. We are failing the creed our nation was founded on.
One thing that has bothered me is this constant insistence we have seen for our politicians and leaders to denounce things we consider wrong. We demand that Donald Trump denounce the small group of white supremacists and racists, that Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley denounce the Capitol mob they helped legitimize. We demand that Joe Biden denounce the small group of Antifa protests who turned the Black Lives Matters protests into violent riots, that Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi denounce anti-Semitism from one of her colleagues. I could make a massive list of the calls for denunciation that we have pushed for as it goes on and on and gets longer every single day. This is our apparent solution today. To not denounce is now a heinous, treacherous act.
But the reason our current reality seems so precarious is because no matter how loud we have become, we have not solved a single thing. Merely, we have taken our grievances and our pains and used them as weapons with which to blunt each other to death with. We simply do not know how to do anything other than this. And while yes, it is good to call out the bad things that plague our society, we frankly have not a clue what to do about them because all we are concerned with is whether or not a certain politician had a big enough press conference to say that these people are evil and irredeemable.
Our calls for denunciation have given us a pathway to write off our neighbors by the millions. No longer do we seek their well-being. Why would we? They did not vote like we did, they do not share our political positions or ideological convictions. They did not put right yard sign out front, and they not retweet the right people. Our nation, and specifically our political elites and their media allies, have marginalized citizens by the millions for their own gain, while turning our anger against the other side alone. Tribe mentality has eliminated our ability to seek that more perfect union and replaced it with dismissal and denouncement.
We no longer need to care about growing economic anxieties about globalized trade, because those are racist Trump voters. We no longer need to care about racism and prejudice in our judicial system, because those Black Lives Matter people are Marxists. And back and forth we go. No longer caring to admit that we have all made mistakes in the past, we simply yell “Both sides did it!” while we bash in the heads of our opponents with our latest escalation.
Yes, it is true, both sides have escalated our political rhetoric and turned people against each other. I have been guilty of this myself. Almost all of us are. We play into it just as much as the media and politicians feed it to us. We take issue with something when our opponents do it, but then as soon as our side uses it, we now justify it based on the past transgressions the other side used. It is breaking down our country at a dizzying pace. And this is not even isolated to fringe groups but a mainstream phenomenon.
We are nearing a very precarious ledge in this country, and the pessimist in me does not see it getting better anytime soon. The consequences could be horrific. I recommend a piece written by Aris Roussinos, a contributing editor at UnHerd. The piece is called “Covid has exposed America as a failed state”, and it paints a picture of how precarious our situation domestically can be. To quote from this piece:
“Trump is a morbid symptom of this chaos, rather than its cause. The forthcoming election, which pits two gerontocrats of dubious mental acuity against each other, resembles the late Soviet era, before the regime collapsed under its own absurdities. America indeed represents a strange inversion of the Soviet collapse: the economy dwarfs that of any other nation, save China; its empire is still intact, and its military spans the globe more powerfully than any single challenger.
Yet at its centre the US echoes post-Soviet Russia in its epidemics of death by drug overdose, in its collapsing middle class, its worsening health outcomes and declining life expectancies, the capture of the state and economy by rapacious oligarchs, and in the occasional bouts of interethnic violence leading to demonstrations, riots and broader political dysfunction.”
This past year alone, millions of families lost their jobs, were plunged into poverty. People lost their lives by the thousands, all the while corporate power consolidated making the rich richer. We gave billions in handouts to tech conglomerates and big business, yet haggled over a month’s rent for the average person. Wealth inequality rose, our civil discourse took an even worse turn, conspiracy theories ran rampant, and our freedoms were violated at every turn.
Is the United States on the same precarious ledge of collapse that the Soviet Union stood up in the 1980s? I honestly do not know and I sincerely hope not. But I also know the words of Jesus Christ, in Matthew and in Luke, speaking to the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” And as we Christians seek the reign of the Kingdom of Heaven, we also are called to pray and seek the good of those around us, and that means we also hold fast to each other and seek that more perfect union this nation was intended to be.