Cultural may not be the appropriate word for the substance of this division but it may have to suffice. The matter is simply that people argue about surface political issues when, actually, there are geographic fault lines dividing them which no one is addressing.
Thinking about this division, I initially determined that it goes all the way back to the Roe v Wade decision of 1973. After all, if one side of the discussion thinks that they are discussing murder and the other side doesn't, each is attaching a very distinct level of importance to the topic. Anyone who has been married knows how much damage can occur when one half of the couple does not take a disputed issue as seriously as the other.
Perhaps, though, this issue goes much farther back. I thought, for some time, that there was good reason to believe that the matter had its origin in the Civil War. Now, I am thinking that perhaps we are reaping what we sowed in the American Revolution.
I will speculate more about that issue in later articles. For now, it should be enough to outline the primary matters which are causing such turmoil in today's political forums.
|Has the Sun set on American religion?|
Religion has always divided America to some extent. Today, the source of the division is unusual in that having a religion or adhering to one makes you stand out against the general American background in many places.
Before World War II, the US was a staunchly Protestant country. While Catholics had been slowly gaining popular acceptance since the US Civil War (in which thousands of Irish and other immigrants fought for the North), it was really the Second World War which erased some of the cultural division.
During the war, men of all faiths found themselves fighting side by side. They had access to one another's pastors when it was necessary to consult about spiritual matters. After the war, these men went to work in factories together, lived in the suburbs together and so on. There was definitely a sentiment abroad that one should attend the church of his choice so long as you went to church.
It would be foolish to pretend that atheism is entirely new to the US culture. There have been atheist s since the beginning and Jefferson's Bible is certainly proof that the Founding Fathers had different ideas about faith than many continue to think.
However, since the 1960s, the impulse toward atheism has grown. Whereas one once had to be convinced to become an atheist, now one must be convinced to believe in spiritual matters. The default spiritual mindset has now become one of disregard for religion rather than disbelief.
There is no question that this movement away from the ancestral faiths of previous generations has made a huge impact on politics. It is what we are really talking about when we talk about some of the major issues in front of the populace today.
|What is really going on in our minds when we talk politics.|
The sexuality issue is really almost a sub-category of the religion issue. While acceptance of gay people has grown in the last few decades, the fact of the matter remains that many Americans are just not comfortable with the thought. Furthermore, a growing number of people may have voted for gay marriage and related issues but are increasingly turned off by the activism of many gay groups.
Furthermore, due to the way that the Internet interface allows people to escape immediate public rebuke or even violence for expressing unpopular opinions, you see many people coming out and declaring their open disgust with homosexuals and homosexuality. I think that a lot of revulsion was apparently dormant during previous decades when communications technology was less developed. People are now able to express their opinions on these matters in public rather than simply stating them at the dinner table.
I am not simply saying that sexuality issues affect how people vote on topics such as gay marriage. I am saying that this matter and others are driving how people vote on a spectrum of issues. People are conflating apparently distinct issues with this one. Your view on gay marriage can probably tell me a lot about your view on the environment, foreign policy, etc.
|Each of us feels something different looking at this picture.|
As I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. there was definitely the perceptible sentiment that we were achieving racial equality and that, soon, race would not matter. That dream never really came true. Seven years after electing the first black POTUS, it is almost as if we have decided to review the last 150 years of racial issues and legal decisions with a critical eye.
Certainly, the Internet has made it easier for people with less accepting views on race to express themselves safely. Furthermore, there seems to be a growing and vocal concern that cultural divisions between blacks and whites may be more real than was previously thought. No one can deny that crime rates are distinctly higher among black populations and the excuse of systemic oppression or the legacy of slavery is getting harder for many people to accept.
Again, an opinion on this issue often tells you a lot about the holder of that opinion. You would have to dig deep to find someone willing to say that they do not think that the races are equal these days. But it is not so hard to find someone that thinks that the people in Ferguson are self-destructive thugs or that Trayvon Martin got what he had coming.
Very recent events have stirred the pot even more. While the media glosses over the racial identity of the latest murders related in the press, at the grassroots level people are upset. The Virginia reporter shooting just last week caused an eruption of articles and comments about race. The vitriol unleashed on comment boards beneath news articles online should be enough to disturb anyone.
There are many other issues which the reader could easily associate with these as far as their ability to divide the public into warring factions. Climate change is another issue. Again, your view on climate change is likely to be a guide to your other opinions on issues such as gay marriage, abortion, gun control, the Ferguson riots and so on.
While the media circus ramps up the excitement about the upcoming election, it is important to remember that there is much more than politics at stake here. This is not just about social security or the war on terror. There are issues here at home which Americans have still not decided, though history books may make it seem that such issues were resolved decades ago.