American society is currently experiencing a tragic and disturbing social phenomenon. President Trump’s victory was the culmination of political tensions that had been brewing for decades, but even though the dust has settled, the fire has not abated. Indeed, in many ways, it has raged brighter and is consuming some of the most important relationships Americans have.
Unfortunately, the ugly nature of our political discourse is not simply limited to social media – it has infiltrated personal relationships. As unbelievable as it sounds, many families have been ripped apart by differences in political opinions. People have cut ties with friends and relatives because of their support for particular parties and candidates. But, it may not surprise you to find that many separations are being initiated by those on the left, who simply cannot fathom why anyone would not support the Democratic Party.
How have so many progressives become willing to shut out the people they claim to love?
The New York Times acknowledged this reality shortly after the 2016 election: “Democrats have dug in their heels, and in some cases are refusing to sit across the table from relatives who voted for President-elect Donald J. Trump.”
This brings up an important question: How have so many progressives become willing to shut out the people they claim to love?
Not a Good Person
Dennis Prager, a conservative radio talk show host, has a saying that sums up the political divide perfectly: “People on the right think that most people on the left are wrong; people on the left think that most people on the right are evil.” This has been the case for decades. The left has continually treated conservatives as if they are the embodiment of all that is wrong in the world – ironically a primary factor that pushed many people to vote for plain-talking Trump, who has no problem pushing back against such condescension and personal attacks.
In so doing, Trump voters presented the progressive left with something not experienced previously: A Republican politician that is willing to aggressively reject political correctness and leftist cultural totalitarianism. The idea that their fellow Americans could support someone who they see as “literally Hitler” makes it easy to understand why they are so quick to cut off family ties with those who don’t toe the leftist line.
Progressive journalist Jef Rouner penned a piece titled “Yes, It’s Okay to Cut Trump-Supporting Family Members Out of Your Life” that unwittingly reveals the out-of-touch thinking of many on the left. After railing against the supposed bigotry of right-leaning Americans and explaining that he does not want such people around his child, he writes:
“You can’t say you voted for Trump and that you’re a good person. You’re not. You’re just someone that has warped their view like a fish in a bowl until you have forgotten what goodness actually looks like.”
No, this is not satire – he really believes this and so do many of his compatriots. This is why they are comfortable with removing relatives from their lives, over politics. Indeed, for people like Rouner, it seems to be yet another way to virtue signal and show the world how morally amazing they are for sacrificing the people they are supposed to love.
When impressionable youngsters go to college, they are fed a consistent ideological diet of progressive thought. This ideological echo chamber is a major contributing factor that shapes how progressives think and how they relate to others with differing beliefs.
When they turn on the news, they are inundated with messages confirming the idea that conservatives are a horde of monsters who want to destroy everything that isn’t white, Christian, and male. Even when they watch television or go to the movie theater, their minds receive progressive ideas. Since most of these institutions vigorously shut out conservative views, these individuals are not likely to ever hear someone explain an idea that contradicts progressive dogma.
Since the left has all but perfected the art of insulating their adherents from opposing views, members of the American left are conditioned to believe that their own ideas are the only valid ones, and anything that rebuts their beliefs is despicable. This lack of a broader perspective has resulted in a deep lack of understanding of those who hold differing views.
It has been proven that many on the left do not understand conservatives or the ideology that drives them. In his book, “The Righteous Mind,” psychologist and ethics professor Jonathan Haidt details a study revealing that conservatives understand the arguments of liberals better than liberals understand the views of conservatives.
The reason for this is not complicated. Conservatives cannot go to a university, watch a movie, or turn on the news without encountering views that do not line up with their own. The left’s stranglehold on our most important institutions has given conservatives that which it has been kept from progressives: exposure to other ideas. In light of this, it should come as no surprise that many conservatives understand the concepts of socialism better than many on the left who actually claim to be socialists.
Who Is To Blame?
So, who is to blame for the left’s hatred towards conservatives? There are several factors involved, but the two most dangerous offenders are the media and American progressives themselves.
The media – even more so than the university – is the primary method by which the progressive elite disseminate their messages. Most of the major broadcast news outlets are owned and run by far-left individuals who use their platforms to influence the American public. Unfortunately, these individuals do not just rely on their biased – and often deceptive – reportage to reinforce left-leaning views, they are also using it to sow division between the left and the right.
News organizations like CNN, ABC, and The New York Times, are not simply content to report the news from a left-wing perspective, they have used their influence to cast conservatives as disgusting, bigoted fiends whose ideas do not deserve even a modicum of consideration. They have convinced many average left-leaning Americans that conservatives literally want to round up all Mexicans and ship them back to Mexico, make people poorer by making the wealthy wealthier, kill people by taking away healthcare, and a host of other atrocities.
Of course, it would also make sense to blame leftists themselves. After all, they are the ones who have allowed themselves to be kept in echo chambers. Indeed, the left’s persuasive efforts have been so effective, that these individuals imprison their own minds within a limited set of ideas – with a few exceptions. While some of these free thinkers end up converting to conservativism, others may remain on the left, but without embracing the requisite hatred for their political rivals.
If these individuals can take these steps, the rest can too – but unfortunately, it appears they do not have the will to wander outside their ideological safe space. Until the progressive grasp on the media and other institutions is broken, the animosity between Americans on the right and left is unlikely to fade anytime soon.