Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The two nations of America - Note for a lecture, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United"

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The two nations of America; via LH on Facebook

The Trumpists are worried the Obamaists are about to destroy the America they had known, while the latter warn that the former are trying to obstruct their road towards change

By Leon Hadar

In a way, the liberal mainstream media covering Mr Trump has been gradually entering the fifth stage of grief, "acceptance" of sorts.

DEC 31, 2015

EARLY on in the Republican presidential primary campaign this year, The Huffington Post - an online news aggregator and blog that is considered to be a major American media outlet supporting the Democratic Party - posted a "note about the coverage of Donald Trump's 'campaign'".
"After watching and listening to Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president, we have decided we won't report on Trump's campaign as part of The Huffington Post's political coverage," its editors announced. "Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section."
The reason was simple, they explained. "Trump's campaign is a sideshow. We won't take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you'll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette."
Since that announcement in July 2015, publisher Arianna Huffington as well as editors and columnists of other liberal news organisations have experienced what could be described as their five stages of grief covering the Donald.
First came "denial" as echoed by The Huffington Post's announcement. It just wasn't possible, it just didn't make sense; NO WAY that the loudmouth real estate magnate from New York - hey, the guy is just host of a reality show! - would win the Republican presidential nomination. And forget the White House.
And then the liberal mainstream media (MSM) went on to predict that Mr Trump's candidacy would collapse any minute - after he referred to Mexican illegal immigrants as "rapists"; after he made crude sexist remarks; after he mocked senator and war hero John McCain; after he called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States - only to see Mr Trump winning ever more support and emerging as the leading Republican presidential candidate.
Then came "anger". How was it possible that an American politician who espouses extremist right-wing positions - some liberal columnists and bloggers compared Mr Trump to Mussolini and Hitler - could do so well in the polls?
That was followed by "bargaining", with the liberal media speculating that some of the other Republican presidential candidates would pick up the votes of Mr Trump's supporters. And then came "depression". This just cannot be happening. If Mr Trump wins, that would mark the decline and fall of America. We're finished!
Now flashback to the 2008 presidential election campaign, switch to Fox News or browse through the right-wing blogosphere.
"NO WAY", states a pundit on the cable news channel favoured by conservative viewers as he ponders whether Senator Barack Obama, a Democrat from Illinois, would be elected as the next US president. "Are you out of your mind," he insists. "A young and inexperienced black man whose middle name is 'Hussein' and who subscribes to ultra-liberal positions. Hey, the guy is just a community organiser. Beating Hillary Clinton in the primaries? Occupying the White House? Not in our lifetime, man."
And then the conservative editors and columnists have their own four stages of grief covering candidate Obama, from "denial", "anger", "depression" and "bargaining", followed by "acceptance" of sorts. Well, Mr Obama was inaugurated as president. He'll be there for four years. But then maybe everyone else would discover that he was actually a Muslim and a communist born in Kenya and he won't be re-elected for a second term (that didn't work).
In a way, the liberal MSM covering Mr Trump has been gradually entering the fifth stage of grief, "acceptance" of sorts. The Huffington Post has decided to relocate its coverage of the Donald from the entertainment section to the news area of the site. Some of the liberal pundits now accept the idea that Mr Trump could win the Republican presidential nomination but are confident that he would lose - BIG - in the general election. And if he does win in November? Well, they would be ready to move to Canada or France.
Or maybe they could remain in the United States after all. It's still possible that Mr Trump would end up losing the Republican presidential primaries; and it's more than likely that presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton could beat him in the general election.
But even then the Republican Party's electoral base will still continue to be dominated by voters who share much of the nationalist and traditional cultural agendas that the Trumpists are advancing: deporting the 11 million or so illegal immigrants from Mexico and building a wall on the southern border to prevent more of them from coming; imposing restrictions on the entry of Muslims into the US and carpet-bombing the areas controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; levying tariffs on Chinese imports and preparing for trade wars with the emerging economies that are "stealing" American jobs; opposition to legalising same-sex marriages and to restrictions on gun control and support for criminalising abortion; and let's not forget the notion that climate change is nothing but a hoax.
No wonder that the majority of liberals in the media and Democratic voters in general sometimes feel that while they and the conservatives and the Republicans may all live in the same US, they are residing on totally different political planets, and are warning that a President Trump would usher in an era in which racists, xenophobes and fascists would rule America.
And the feeling is mutual as members of the Tea Party movement bash the current Democratic president as an un-American if not as an anti-American leader who is in cahoots with radical Islamists at home and abroad while working together with atheists, feminists and gay activists to destroy the traditional Christian foundations of American society.
Indeed, numerous public opinion polls indicate that America is now divided along political and ideological lines which in turn reflect different demographic groups. Some would argue that America is split now into two nations that have totally different visions about the future of the country.
There is the Obama Nation, concentrated in the large urban centres of the country, in particular in the East and West Coast, and consisting of young voters, and educated professionals joined by blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, and who subscribe to a more secular, progressive and internationalist set of values.
And then there is the Trump Nation, with electoral bastions in rural areas, especially in the South and Midwest, made up of mostly white, older and religious voters who endorse a more nationalist and culturally conservative policy programme. They are worried that the Obama Nation is about to destroy the America they had known, while the Obamaists warn that the Trumpists are trying to obstruct their road towards change.
Hence a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll indicated that while 70 per cent of Republican primary voters see themselves as adhering to the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, among Democratic primary voters, it's only 25 per cent. A clear majority of Democrats - but only 17 per cent of Republicans - want Washington to pursue policies to combat climate change. Only 6 per cent of Republicans - but more than 50 per cent of Democrats - believe that the police are mistreating black men. And while 60 per cent of Republicans are strong supporters of the right to carry arms, only about 10 per cent of Democrats share that view.
Most Republicans place the issue of terrorism and national security on the top of their agenda and want the US to project its military power around the world, while the majority of Democrats regard the economy as the main priority and believe that Washington should focus on resolving domestic social and economic problems.
If anything, the existence of a 24/7 news environment, which includes politically charged cable new programmes and blogosphere, tends to accentuate the ideological polarisation in the country and explains why even centrist political figures such as Mrs Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush are under pressure to embrace more extreme positions, why the political centre is gradually disappearing from the political discourse, and why the split between the Obama and the Trump nations only continues to grow.

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