Division and violence in US continue as the country enters 2024
Published: Jan 06, 2024 08:54 AM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

America is divided. America is violent. 

America is headed into an election year between two candidates intimately familiar with one another. Each candidate tells their tens of millions of supporters that the other will destroy the nation. Their last contest for the US presidency produced an attempted self-coup. Biden's reelection campaign has already said that President Biden, in a speech on January 6, three years after the attacks on the US Capitol, will make the case that Donald Trump poses an existential threat to democracy.

Among those who are affiliated with the perpetrators of the Capitol attack, from Trump to his thousands of foot soldiers, political violence has only become more popular and viewed as necessary. 

A third of American Republican voters approve of domestic political violence now that they don't control the White House. With their team captain sitting in the Oval Office, only 13 percent of Democrats believe the same. 

American voters are split evenly, with almost half of voters affiliating with neither the Democratic nor Republican Party. Those who identify with different parties can't seem to agree on how to address many of our most pressing issues. 

For instance, more than 75 percent of Democrat voters believe that climate change is a serious threat to our country. Only 23 percent of Republicans agree.  

In our nation, founded on genocide and slavery, Democrats and Republicans are at opposite poles on how much of a problem racial discrimination is. Wages are stagnant, prices of staples remain high and American homelessness is rampant. Americans are angry, and feel unheard and desperate. We own more firearms than any other nation, by a factor of more than two. Now, gun sales are moving at double the rate of two decades ago, with 60 million guns purchased anew between our last presidential election year in 2020 and 2022.  

As hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets, our government officials are increasing surveillance. They are making it legal to assault and run protestors over, while prosecutors charge peaceful protestors with terrorism. 

We're faced with plenty to fear. Our claims to democracy were given too much credence. We grew to lag behind the rest of the developed world in areas like education and healthcare.  

The divisions among us are clear and dangerous. Less celebrated, perhaps because they do not serve our ruling establishment, are the many ways in which Americans are united, even if we do not yet realize them. 

Yes, both parties enjoy an even 29 percent split of voters, but that means that the clear plurality of voters identifies with neither corporate party. Millions more citizens don't vote at all, but still take part in protests. 

Americans are discouraged and angry, but active. We are united by our low estimation of the status quo and ruling establishment. Given that most Americans face common stresses and crises, it is entirely possible that we begin to recognize our common ground. 

Hundreds of thousands of people are protesting the US' and Israel's actions against the Palestinian people. Thousands of workers are unionizing and striking across every industry. 

The lie that our major parties are divided (when, in fact, they work together seamlessly to worsen climate crises, expand belligerent US imperialism, and advance corporate and financial institution interests) is exploited by politicians to fuel the most violent divisions between American civilians. This lie, and manufactured division, also allows deeper, more systemic domestic violence - that perpetrated by the American state against its people - to grow. 

American elites work hard to make the rest of us believe that we have different interests sufficient to hate one another. In many ways they appear to be succeeding heading into 2024, but we still have a chance to realize and act upon the fact that we have more in common with one another than we do with any of them. 

The author is a Chicago-based columnist covering US politics & culture. He is also a university English & critical journalism instructor. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn