Two Thousand & Twenty is the year that no one saw coming. While we were all ecstatic to ring in a new decade on December 31st, 2019, at this point it’s safe to say that the majority of people’s enthusiasm has completely faded. The coronavirus pandemic- something that was merely a term we heard on the news affecting China in the early part of this year- became a widespread issue, causing America to more or less temporarily shut down. While some of the states have started to reopen at this point, many important economic meccas- such as New York City- remain mostly closed. Due to the effects of the pandemic, many businesses have suffered, millions of people are out of work, and the economy has taken an immense hit that will likely take years to bounce back from. Many lives have also been tragically lost. While things have started to improve in some areas, at this point there is still no cure and no vaccine, so life returning to normal is not anything that will likely happen anytime soon.
In addition to the coronavirus, we are also currently in the midst of a social upheaval that’s been a long time coming. After the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests for “Black Lives Matter” have been taken up across the entire country. While a lot of these protests have been peaceful, some have become violent and some have led to incidents of looting. These protests also do not show any sign of stopping, as they have been going on across the country for almost two weeks with new ones announced daily.
These two aforementioned events have inarguably been the biggest news of 2020. They have also led to many heated debates, depending on where you stand on certain issues. For example, many argued that keeping the economy afloat was more important than keeping us all quarantined, as the coronavirus has been shown to mostly have detrimental effects in older people and people with pre-existing conditions. Others argued that the economy needed to take a backseat and we needed to do everything we could to save lives. Aside from personal feelings, these issues also started to become politicized. The most conservative Republicans, for example, tended to err on the side of “open the country up” rather than keep us locked down. This idea was echoed from the President as well, who supported protesters calling for states to open up and has said he would not close the country down if there was a second coronavirus wave (as has been predicted to happen this fall). The most liberal Democrats (and others) stood for saving as many lives as possible by staying home, while not worrying about the economy in the current moment.
Once the protests began, this issue became somewhat politicized as well. While everyone agreed that the way in which George Floyd was murdered was horrific- and that the police needed to be held accountable- the protests are where some started to waver politically. Many on the Democratic side stormed out of their house to protest. While coronavirus is still an ongoing thing- and we’ve been told not to gather in large groups- these rules seemed to be ignored for the protests, with groups of thousands gathering together. While many people at the protests have worn masks, it still doesn’t discount the fact that there is definitely a huge coronavirus risk by having crowds of these numbers gather. Some of the most conservative Republicans didn’t condemn the protests outrightly, but they did condemn looting, rioting that involved setting things on fire, and supported things such as the National Guard being sent into cities that could not stop the rioting and looting.
With all of this dissension of opinion, this has led to another problem that people don’t seem to want to discuss. This has something I have personally started to discuss with friends on all sides of the political spectrum. Those of us who tend to be in the middle- agreeing with some of the Republican ideas, agreeing with some of the Democratic ideas, and being open to hearing all viewpoints- are getting lost in the shuffle. More specifically, there is a different epidemic going on in America- which is that, unless you agree 100% with everything coming from the liberal Democratic side, you are a Trump-supporting Republican, and unless you agree 100% with everything coming from the conservative Republican side, you are a liberal Democrat. The word moderate has completely been abolished and you have to either be liberal or conservative. There is no in-between. All this has led to is infighting and a great deal of fake news on both sides- which I will discuss next. But first, I want to make a bold statement. I am going out on a limb to say that liberalism and conservatism are ruining America.
Before you jump down my throat, allow me to explain myself…
First, let’s discuss the news. Whenever there are major world events going on, Americans have historically always turned to the news to get the pertinent information about what’s going on. Think back to September 11th. Whichever news network you turned on that day, you got the minute-to-minute coverage of exactly what was happening with, for the most part, little to no bias. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for the majority of things since Donald Trump became President, and it certainly has not been the case this year.
When Trump coined the term “fake news,” it at first seemed completely absurd. I was one of the initial people to think it sounded insane and brushed it off as a way of him trying to control and manipulate the media. While I won’t dispute that he deems fake news as news that doesn’t support him and/or his narrative, there is an argument to be made that the term fake news is real.
Don’t believe me?
Look at the following chart, originated in 2018 by MediaBiasChart.com:
This chart, at best, is highly alarming, and leads to the question of where do you get real news? For example, CNN is deemed as “neutral” but “skews liberal.” So, when tuning into CNN, you need to be aware that your news will have a liberal bias, meaning that it’s not completely news, but it’s news with an opinion. They also categorize CNN as an “Opinion; Fair Persuasion” in terms of overall quality and indicate that they lean towards a liberal bias.
Fox News, on the other hand, is on the “hyper-partisan conservative” to “most extreme conservative” level. It also is placed on the propaganda/contains misleading info and selective or incomplete story/unfair persuasion. They also indicate Fox News has a conservative bias. So, when tuning into Fox News, one needs to be aware there will be obtaining news that will have a conservative bias, meaning that it’s not completely news, but it’s news with an opinion.
Bearing in mind that Fox News and CNN are two of the most popular news networks in the country combined with the information discussed above is concerning, as the majority of Americans tuning in to the news are not getting the news. They are being fed propaganda that helps to formulate their opinions and keep them in the “liberal” or “conservative” boxes. Rather than being able to form opinions on what’s going on in the world based on the hard facts, many of us are being spoon-fed pre-programmed opinions that align with certain agendas.
Let’s examine a concrete example in terms of the George Floyd protests. Many on the liberal side of the spectrum have argued in favor of the protests (regardless of coronavirus) and have seemed to indicate that the looting and rioting are acceptable. Many arguments I’ve seen online support the fact that peaceful protests (like Colin Kapernick kneeling) have not accomplished anything, so if the protests turn to rioting and looting they are getting more attention.
But what if one has the following opinion:
- The protests, if peaceful, are acceptable and make sense
- Rioting and looting should never occur, and if they do there should be arrests made/there should be consequences
- While supportive of the protests, they shouldn’t be occurring during a pandemic
From what I have been told in conversations with the most liberal of friends, having these opinions means you’re a Republican and support Trump. You should either be completely on the train- I.e. fine with looting, and not concerned with the pandemic as the protests are more important than the concern over the pandemic- or you are too conservative. The most conservative would likely argue that the opinions above make you a liberal, as you are concerned with coronavirus still being a thing that should have us on lockdown and some conservatives have voiced that they think Black Lives Matter is a Democratic political agenda.
In the same vein, many conservatives protested the closing of the country, trying to fight for small businesses to reopen. Many on the liberal spectrum were against these protests due to coronavirus, while many on the conservative spectrum felt that these protests were acceptable. There seems to be a double standard in both directions.
Let’s examine another example that has taken social media by storm and that is Candace Owens. Owens is an African-American Trump supporter and conservative activist. While previously anti-conservative and anti-Trump, Owens’s viewpoints changed along the way and she started Blexit, or the organization for the Black Exit from the Democratic Party. Last week, Owens shared a Facebook live video in which she boldly stated that she did NOT support George Floyd being painted as a martyr.
Some of the points she raised included the following:
- The way in which George Floyd was murdered was wrong and the cops needed to be held accountable
- George Floyd had a rap sheet that included a previous time where he held a pregnant woman up at gunpoint
- She specifically stated that “You would be hard-pressed to find a Jewish person who has spent five stints in prison, who commits a crime and dies while committing a crime and that the Jewish people demand justice for. You would be hard-pressed to find this in white America… even Latino America. What I am saying is not any defense for (the cop who killed Floyd). The family of George Floyd deserves justice for the way that he died. But I am also not going to accept the narrative that this is the best the black community has to offer.”
- She also specifically said that “For whatever reason, it has become fashionable over the last five or six years for us to turn criminals into heroes overnight. It is something I find despicable. George Floyd was not an amazing person. George Floyd is being upheld as an amazing human being… everyone is pretending this man lived a heroic lifestyle. We are embarrassing in that regard. Nobody wants to tell the truth in black America. Our biggest problem is us.”
- She notes that “upstanding black citizens” are dying due to the riots that many on the liberal side have pointed to as not something that should be condemned due to “quiet protests” not working
Whether you agree with the points Owens draws here or not isn’t the point of me sharing them. Rather, it’s important to note that since sharing her video, Owens has been met with comments criticizing her for things such as abandoning her race, wanting to be white, and called racist terminology by fellow members of her race. This is simply because Owens offered her own viewpoint that doesn’t align with the viewpoint many feel she should have based on the color of her skin. Let’s think about this…some of the people claiming to be protesting against racism have used racism as an argument against Owens. It sends the message loud and clear of “don’t be racist” unless we disagree with your viewpoint, which then we can be racist. The idea that people can freely think any longer has been abandoned and unless you stand 100% on one side of this issue, you’re against it. Unless you paint George Floyd as a martyr, you’re going to be deemed a racist.
This draws a direct parallel to the liberalism and conservatism. It’s become a problem if you have some ideas from both sides that you agree with. You can’t be a liberal person but agree with Candace Owens’s viewpoints, as you must be racist and abandoning ship. Likewise, you can’t be a conservative person but err on the side of caution with coronavirus, as then you’re a liberal wanting to ruin the economy. The concept of having to 100% agree with everything on the Democratic/liberal spectrum or 100% agree with everything on the Republican/conservative spectrum is, frankly, ludicrous and doing nothing to help our country. It’s creating arguments. It’s creating heated debates. It’s creating boycotts of businesses. It’s creating the ending of friendships and relationships. And for what benefit? Is our country in a better place because we all have to choose a side and be 100% on that side 100% of the time? If anything, that type of thinking will lead to more divide rather than a place of healing and togetherness, which is something we really need to strive for after all we’ve been through.
It is for that reason I am standing up and saying that liberalism and conservatism, in theory, are ruining America. We need to return to a place where we can be free thinkers and have our own ideas. A place where it’s okay to say I agree with Joe Biden on THIS issue but disagree with him on THIS one. A place where one can say I support protesting but I don’t support looting. A place where we can respectfully have political disagreements, but not allow them to be things that have to define our lives and who we are. Just because someone may be liberal on certain issues and conservative on others, one should not deem them a misguided person or someone who is confused. Taking the news in and then formulating one’s OWN opinions is something that used to happen. Too often now we are spoon-fed what to think and our opinions are based solely on which “side” of the spectrum we’re on- conservative or liberal- rather than evaluating things on a case-by-case basis.
I still believe this is the greatest country in the entire world. We have so much to offer, and even with the challenges we have right now, I have no doubt that we have a bright future to still fight for. But we need to start viewing this fight as something we are all in, together. There is too much at stake and continuing to push divisiveness is not going to help. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” We have to do better to see each other, hear each other, talk things through, rather than fighting for people to have to choose a side. We are not a country that needs to be at war with one another; rather, we need to figure out how to move ahead, together. We have so much to gain, and also so much to lose. I hope we can start seeing that, rather than continuing to place people into forced boxes of thought. I want nothing more than for free thinking to become a thing again and for the success of this country, for liberals, conservatives, and everyone in between.