Divide and rule: America’s biggest social issue

The first months after the 2016 election results were the hardest. Falling victim to having to pick a side was like drinking a poison that induced anger, anxiety, and doubts. You were either black or white, gay or straight, American or anti-American, left or right, Hillary or Trump, guns or gun control, blue or red, abortion or choice. Everything was divided. The gray area almost completely disappeared – making it impossible to come to any sort of agreement over anything.

Heated arguments about politics, climate change, and human rights issues with friends and family led to unexpected broken relationships. Dating transformed into an ideological battle, and expressions from artists now dictate if their work is worthy.

Regardless if the current American administration’s “divide and rule” agenda is intentional or not, the outcome of their political movement proves to succeed in that intention.

The United States is more divided today than at any other point in my near three decades of life. The current administration feeds off the division, and constantly fuels it. It desensitizes lies and transforms fact into mere opinion. Doing so manipulates a large group of Americans to follow a dark leadership fueled by ignorance. Meanwhile, another group resists.

The truth is: America hasn’t ever been genuinely united. Our civil war proved an even uglier side of America, and we were able to overcome.

Instead of picking a side, I told myself that 2018 would be different. I stopped listening to the outrageous, arrogant words of our administration and started listening to regular Americans I disagreed with most. Too many times I thought that those people were insane – leaving everyone who agreed with me to be in their right mind.

I was wrong.

Arguing with people who don’t agree with me is yelling into the wind. No one is actually listening. Nothing is being done. In fact, unless the person I argue with goes back into time and changes key experiences and teachings in their past, I am not going to change their beliefs – as they will not change mine. There will be times in life when things don’t work out as I want them to – especially politics.

Voting for someone to represent my values is my voice in government. If I want my ideas to prosper, I must vote. Otherwise, I have no voice in government. In the meantime, if my candidate doesn’t win, it’s out of my control.   

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t fight for what I believe in. On the contrary, one way to show our government that I disagree with its choices is putting up a good fight. Not against each other, but protesting together in groups. If done right, members of legislation are forced to notice. If they refuse to take action, they will be voted out of office when their term is up.

Our ideas aren’t what makes Americans exclusively right or wrong. What makes us right is understanding –or at least trying to understand– that we coexist with other minds. My problems are not other’s problems, my upbringing was not other’s upbringing. For me to expect everyone in America to agree with me is a void mentality.

Politics, laws, morality, and ethics are forever changing – whether we like it or not. There have been moments in American history when liberals have made much progress and other times when conservatives have held on to their traditions.

Moreover, democracy has never been easy. In order for some to win, others must lose. Don’t ever think because you have the short end of the stick this time around that it’s the end of American democracy. Vote, protest, enjoy the freedom America has to offer and remember: this, too, shall pass.

EDITOR’S NOTE: THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE  BY IMPAKTER.COM COLUMNISTS ARE THEIR OWN, NOT THOSE OF IMPAKTER.COM  —Cover Photo by Michael Ramey: I traveled to Washington D.C. for the Presidential Inauguration to photograph the "culture" of the day. My aim was to capture the moments how they happened. This was a peaceful protester who was shut up and rebuked by supporters. The look on his face is eerily true to the emotions that I imagine that he felt during the snap of the shutter.
About the Author /

For nearly a decade, Omar Valdez is working diligently for various nonprofit organizations in fields including immigration, public health, and education. He prides himself in focusing on community issues and reducing inequalities. His current focus is in reducing the spread of new HIV infections throughout South Florida, which include the number one and two counties in the U.S. for new HIV infections. Omar also works as a freelance columnist for various online publications.

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