America has always been divided between Republicans and Democrats.
In terms of voting results in presidential elections, the amount of division between Americans seems to be in line with past elections. It does seem, however, that the level and type of disagreement is louder and more intense.
One of the reasons for this increase in acrimony is the proposition put forth by some (not all) Democrat politicians and media members that "Republicans are racist."
In the past, the "Republicans are racist" argument was typically only during elections (i.e., every two or four years) or surrounding a vote on a large policy initiative. With the start of the Trump campaign, these arguments began to change in both frequency and tone.
It seemed like these arguments were omnipresent in news telecasts, social media posts and speeches from politicians. They also became more vivid and sensational.
For example, Trump was compared to Hitler and individuals crossing at the Southern border of the United States were said to be put in concentration camps. Most recently, President Biden accused Republicans of wanting to reinstitute segregation and Jim Crow laws with the new voting law in Georgia.
This "Republicans are racist" argument is patently false and devoid of any evidence. The reason for it is to influence people to vote for Democrats in elections. First, individuals who believe the argument will want to vote against Republicans because they see them as racists. Second, some people will vote for Democrats because they are afraid that, if they vote Republican and tell people who they voted for, they will be seen as racists.
It is unclear how many people believe the "Republicans are racist" argument. To the extent that it is accepted, however, the proposition can have three profound effects on those who adopt it.
First, they may stop viewing political debates as ones of policy. Rather, they may see them as issues of morality and survival of nonwhite individuals because they believe that Republicans are trying to subjugate nonwhite people.
Second, they may view Republican politicians as horrible individuals who want to suppress others. Third, they may consider those who vote Republican to be racists themselves or merely bad people because these voters are enabling the racist Republicans to attain political office.
The division between Republicans and Democrats due to a belief that "Republicans are racist" is much different than a disagreement over domestic or foreign policy. Debates concerning policy differences may bring forth strong emotions, but, in the end, those with differing opinions would usually not consider the other person as "bad" or "evil." They would simply think of the other person as having a different viewpoint or perspective.
With the "Republicans are racist" argument, any view or person that tolerates a Republican is unacceptable. It is this reason that some Democrats end friendships with their Republican friends or stop speaking with their Republican family members. One would likely not cease to be a friend over a difference in tax policy but would probably end a friendship if he thought the other person was a racist.
As the "Republicans are racist" argument gains more believers, the divisions in America will become more intense due to the consequences of the contention. The chasm will grow to prevent even basic discourse and compromise. The divide between Republicans and Democrats may not increase from a quantity/numbers perspective, but it will be dangerous to the country.
Republicans must constantly challenge those Democrat politicians and media members who put forth the "Republicans are racist" argument. Republicans must point out that they are not racist and that their policies are based on factors besides race. Most importantly, Republicans should explain how Democrat policies have hurt nonwhite individuals and communities.
Michael B. Abramson is a practicing attorney. He is also an adviser with the National Diversity Coalition for Trump. He is the host of the "Advancing the Agenda" podcast and the author of "A Playbook for Taking Back America: Lessons from the 2012 Presidential Election." Follow him on his website and Twitter, @mbabramson. Read Michael B. Abramson's Reports — More Here.
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