During the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton became ill. She stumbled during a fundraiser commemorating 9/11. Donald Trump wasted no time in capitalizing on the incident, immediately releasing videos showing how Clinton needed to be helped into her limo, and was later diagnosed with pneumonia.
The Trump campaign used it as a cudgel to paint Clinton as weak and unfit to be president. It became one of the many vile tools the Trump campaign used against Clinton to portray her as being weak.
Fast forward to 2020. After months of shunning masks and social distancing, Donald Trump is hospitalized with coronavirus. Instead of using this to paint Trump as weak and ineffective, which he so obviously is, many Democrats, including his opponent Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama, sent words of encouragement, stating they wished Trump a swift recovery.
The differences couldn’t be any more stark.
You have one side constantly in attack mode, seeking to seize upon an opportunity or perceived weakness while the other urges compassion and unity. And while America is comprised of a diverse population, there should be some expectation of civility, especially in times of crisis.
In the aftermath of 9/11, there was an overwhelming sense of national unity in the face of a despicable tragedy. American flags flew outside almost every home as we came together to mourn the loss of thousands. The fact that there was a Republican in the White House was irrelevant to anyone. We weren’t red or blue; we were red, white and blue.
What caused this dramatic division in our once United States?
It would be easy to point the finger at one person. Donald Trump has certainly sown the seeds of division. But, like a fever that accompanies the coronavirus, Trump is a symptom of a more pervasive illness.
Racists and white supremacists who could not accept a black man as their president are a serious illness on the body politic. Conspiracy theorists who see a boogeyman in every move are taking advantage of the internet to spew their “Deep State” dribble to the delight of their demented followers. And then there are Evangelicals; those who purportedly follow “the teachings of Jesus” who spread their xenophobia and religious bigotry while claiming to be “the chosen ones”.
So, while getting rid of Trump would certainly be a move in the right direction, it is only part of the disease that is what has become the Republican Party.
While Democrats are far from blameless in their zeal, their motives are quite different. Comprised of the far left (what Trump calls the “radical left”), centrists and fiscal conservatives, the Democrats are united in their goal of opposing Republican plans. They support combating Climate Change, providing affordable healthcare and college education, and a sensible immigration policy that includes a path to citizenship for Dreamers.
Democrats also support law enforcement reform. Called the George Floyd Act, the aim is to enhance police tactics, to have more community involvement and to employ more social workers. This response to the murder of George Floyd and other African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement officials aims to address systemic racism that is an issue in many areas, particularly law enforcement. It hopes to address those issues brought to the fore by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Of course Republicans see each of these issues as a sign of weakness. They view Climate Change as a liberal hoax that will harm American businesses. They claim immigration reform will result in “open borders” and assert that the cost of healthcare will bankrupt the government. They also distort law enforcement reform by stating it’s a move to “defund the police”, while those who support Black Lives Matter are little more than rioters and thugs.
The differences couldn’t be more polarizing. With both sides entrenched in their beliefs, it could tear the country apart. With Election Day fast approaching the Biden campaign has removed negative ads as a compassionate gesture to respect Donald Trump’s illness. Meanwhile, Republicans are still in attack mode, seeking to take advantage of any stumble coming from the Biden campaign. When none is forthcoming, they will invent something, including airing altered videos and doctored photos in an effort to smear Trump’s opponent.
Election Day can’t come soon enough.