The Great Splitting of the United States

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“Splitting” has a number of meanings, but what they have in common is the notion of dividing something that was formerly not divided. In psychiatry and psychology it refers to a tendency, often seen in people with Borderline Personality Disorder, to shift between total admiration and love for a particular person and total disgust and hate. Election Day, 2016 was a time in which the cultural splitting of the United States became full-grown. It had been conceived in the 1960s by Tom Hayden and others in the “New Left,” one of whose catch-phrases was “The personal is the political.” Politics, once the domain of rational (though often heated) discourse became irrational, and those opposite to the New Left’s political views were demonized as evil people.

This splitting spread in the 1970s, the decade in which the values of the mid and late sixties permeated down to the rest of society. There was always a large swath of middle America, primarily in rural areas and small towns, who opposed the new wave of Leftism. However, in universities, the media, and Hollywood, the views of the 1960s left grew until a coalition between those three groups dominated elite society. They won victories in the courts such as Roe v. Wade on abortion and later, the legalization of homosexual marriage. They are pushing a transsexual agenda and a fluid notion of gender that is increasingly being publicized and supported by many in those three elite groups. These values are in sharp contrast with those of much of middle America and mark major differences in world view.

Donald Trump became a symbol of the cultural war in the United States. Hated by the left, parting for running a right wing campaign and partly for not being part of the establishment, supporting him resulting in his supporters losing friends, getting in arguments or fights, and even losing their jobs for being conservative. Conservatives, resentful at their voices being silenced, have reacted, and some, though a minority, have ended their friendships with liberals and consider them all evil. Election Day 2016 marked the Great Splitting of American, a division so deep that it recalls the situation before the War between the States. While violence thus far has not come close to the 1967-71 period in the United States, the threat of violence looms over us. I have lost lifelong friends. As a novel writer, I know my sales and publicity have been hurt by my openness about my conservative positions, which makes me a demon to many leftist writers. I have had people who know me, who in the past told me people can disagree and still be friends, change their minds during and after the 2016 election. Did I suddenly grow demon horns in November 2016? Do my eyes glow red? Have I turned mean since then? Of course not, and neither have those who have rejected me due to my positions. Why can’t we agree to disagree again, if for nothing else, to avoid the world ending, as it does in T. S. Eliot’s writings, with people shooting each other in the streets.

On Donald Trump’s Victory

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The news media is in fits over Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, and it is good that some of them are admitting that they misread the pulse of the American people. I grew up in a working class background, and though I am in academia, many of the people I know are rural working class people. They are angry at the government for ignoring their values, mocking their religion, interfering with religious freedom, negotiating trade deals that outsource jobs, and political correctness. The media did not understand why people, including many women, voted for Mr. Trump despite his crude locker room talk that was broadcast to the world. What they missed was that many “ordinary folk” are so sick of people being condemned for every small breach of political correctness and being labeled “racist,” “sexist,” “homophobic,” and other “ists,” that they found Mr. Trump’s crudeness to be a big middle finger extended to the politically correct establishment. They may not have approved of Mr. Trump’s actions, but in a world in which people are called out for “microaggression,” Trump’s “macroaggression” was, to his supporters, refreshing. The establishment does not realize this—that people can disapprove of a man’s speech and still overlook it. There were rough people in my extended family who said many wrong and inappropriate things, but we could still say, “That’s just Uncle Jim.” In a similar way Trump’s supporters hear him speak off the cuff or see videos of his poor behavior in the past and say, “Oh, that just ‘ole Donald Trump” and then vote for him.

Mr. Trump represents, to many of the vulgi populi, someone who is one of them despite being a billionaire. Alienated from the establishment culture, they find in Mr. Trump a champion who will stand up to a government that they believe screws them in every way. Mr. Trump did not mock their religion as Mrs. Clinton and her staff (and in a previous campaign, Mr. Obama) mocked them. Many common people see the ruling class as looking down on them, and right or wrong, they see Mr. Trump as being one with them, the people. Mr. Trump is a populist who represents an historic reversal of the policies that have been destructive to both Middle American values and the economy.

A few commentators, such as Pat Buchanan, correctly read the shift in American values against free trade and for a more restrained foreign policy—and the latter is a major shift for Southern voters. In the South, voters have typically been militaristic, supporting every U. S. military intervention in the world. Now they have shifted to a view I hear often in gatherings of the common people, that “We should stay out of that mess,” or “We should mind our own business and take care of things over here.” This move against warmongering is one I welcome, and the vote in this election is, in part, a repudiation of Mrs. Clinton’s militaristic wing of the Democratic Party.

As someone who did not fall prey to the academy’s emphasis on “multiculturalism” and “globalism,” I welcome Mr. Trump’s ideas. Like many rural people, I feel a connection with family and soil—to concrete reality, not to bloodless abstractions. I voted for Donald Trump and have no regrets. I wish him well as the country’s forty-fifth president.