Opinion | Don’t let Trump’s defeat perpetuate divisiveness
December 19, 2020
Barring an inexplicably unprecedented turn of events, it appears what many would consider to be the most irregular and vexing presidential term in recent American history has finally come to an end. The people have spoken in record numbers, declaring they do not want another four years of Donald J. Trump presiding over the presidency.
Considering President Trump has been hailed as one of the most divisive commanders-in-chief to ever hold power, there assuredly are many who are pleased to see his abrasive rhetoric exit the Oval Office alongside him. The likely natural reaction of these many people would be to relish in Trump’s defeat, excitedly rejoicing the occasion.
However, one must be careful their elation does not result in the further perpetuation of the exact thing they resented Trump for promoting: divisiveness.
President Trump’s term was riddled with barrages of absurd threats, heinous insults and racially insensitive remarks — quite the track record. One can attribute Trump’s rhetoric to his continual effort to build a strongman persona that embodies his “America First” movement, but it does not absolve him from the divisiveness his odious diction has sowed into the population.
While there will always be valid arguments between the two dominant political parties regarding a plethora of different matters, it’s hard to argue against the celebration of Trump’s divisive rhetoric making its long-awaited departure. The danger, however, arises when those who are celebrating do so by reciprocating with similarly hostile rhetoric toward Trump supporters.
Now may seem like the time for people who couldn’t stand Trump’s habitual antagonistic remarks to, in a way, get their payback — this is a problem. Those flocking to social media to bombast Republicans and Trump supporters by making negative character judgements based solely on political affiliation are doing exactly what they so despise President Trump for doing.
Scrutinizing this present phenomenon is not at all to imply that the reckless celebration of certain non-Trump voters is similarly detrimental to four years of volatile rhetoric from President Trump, but rather to emphasize hostility and divisiveness as necessarily bad and intolerable to be encouraged on either side of the political spectrum — negative repercussions will always arise.
For example, not only is this crowd recklessly pedaling division themselves, but they are distracting from dire levels of division that require immediate attention. Simply because the United States will no longer have a president who prides himself in being a polarizing figure does not mean all the deleterious divisiveness that existed under him has magically disappeared.
Look to 2020’s calamitous motif of racial injustice for a prominent example of America divided. Breonna Taylor still hasn’t received justice. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 was introduced five months ago but still has yet to be passed by the Senate. The Trump administration’s neglect of consent decrees has allowed police accountability to wither.
Observe the drastic state of political partisanship within the American population. While there has been a general increase in partisan attitudes over recent decades — one that can be attributed to the proliferation of news outlets encouraging political dialogue among news-interested people — the country is currently witnessing unprecedented levels of ideological divide.
One must not be blind to the fact that the United States is a nation torn by division that will not leave alongside President Trump. In the effort to help combat the division rather than promote it, heed the following words shared by Dave Chappelle, master of comedic socio-political commentary and outspoken non-Trump supporter, in his recent Saturday Night Live monologue.
“I would implore everybody who’s celebrating today to remember, it’s good to be a humble winner. Remember when I was here four years ago [after Trump won the election]? Remember how bad that felt? Remember that half the country right now still feels that way. Please remember that.”
Nick is a sophomore in LAS.