It has been three months since the presidential election, and nearly three weeks since the inauguration. The division continues.
Of course, this is nothing new. If you paid attention in history class, you know our politicians have had a lot to feud about, for more than 200 years.
I am more worried about our family feuds. Some people just won’t give it up. Here in the South, whatever progress was made after the 1960s has pretty much disappeared since 2008. Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump were polarizing personalities. There seemed to be no middle ground. As we said in my neck of the woods, you were either for ’em, or again’ em.
Thanks (or no thanks) to the miracle of social media, we are no longer in the dark about who Cousin Beauregard voted for. Truth be told, we never really cared. We only followed him to make sure he was still above ground, but now we must see his rants, his memes and his misinformation. Lucky us!
Sometimes you can just laugh it off, but what about the loved ones with whom you interact on a daily basis? According to some of the stories I am hearing, it might be wise to hire a personal food taster. The temperature has risen to such a degree, even Me-maw may be seeking political revenge.
I never envisioned this level of weirdness, did you? People who have roamed the Earth longer than me never reported any lingering hatred when Truman beat Dewey, or when Ike beat Adlai. Plus, back then we didn’t know that much about the candidates. The reporters knew which politicians, from presidents on down, were cheating on their wives, drinking too much and engaging in dirty political deeds. They just wouldn’t tell us, until years later. Maybe what we didn’t know really didn’t hurt us.
That was long before Facebook began fueling our anger, and before the cable “news” channels discovered the formula to print money: raising their viewers’ blood pressure. It has gotten to the point that if certain TV opinion hosts told their followers it was sunny and 95 outside on this February day, they would smear on some sunscreen, and go skinny-dipping.
One young friend confided to me, “I’ve lost my mother.” That could mean any number of things, so I started asking questions. In this case it was tied to politics. “She’s gone full QAnon,” he said, referring to the far-right group that has espoused various conspiracy theories, including that Democrats are baby-eating pedophiles.
He added, “She’s bought into everything. She thinks 9/11 was fake, that the school shootings were staged, and lizard people rule the world.” He said, “I used to try to reason with her, but last night she told me she didn’t need me or my politics.”
He was not joking, and then shared more details. “I try to help her keep track of her money, and I noticed she sent half her monthly check to (a political figure), who claims to be very wealthy. If I try to stop her, it just makes her angrier. I am the only one who can stop her, but she won’t listen.”
Another friend told me, “My brother and I were always close and I thought he hung the moon. But I have lost some respect for him. It’s painful to constantly be at odds over politics. It has affected our relationship. I sometimes stress over what we’ll talk about when we visit. I’ve never had to worry about that until now. It makes me mad. These political differences are wearing me out.”
She continued, “Luckily we have mutual respect that holds us together. I’m afraid that is not true for many families. I avoid making any political comments online because we don’t want to cause any further division. I know too many people who have lost friends, and become estranged from loved ones, all because of politics. I had never experienced or witnessed this until recently. I wish they could develop a vaccine for this!”
There is no cure, but I know one family that actually enjoyed their Christmas get-together. It was 100% politics free. Their invitation stated, “Upon entering our home, you will notice a large punch bowl in the living room. Anyone who makes any mention of any political candidate (federal, state or local; past, present or future), political party, impeachment, stimulus check, health care plan, or any president from George Washington to Joe Biden, will have to deposit $10 in the bowl. Cash, credit card, PayPal or direct deposit is accepted. Your contribution will be sent to whichever political party you despise the most. We hope to see you in your jolly holiday attire!”
The bowl remained empty, and a good time was had by all. Clip and save. You may want to try this during Christmas 2021.
David Carroll, a Chattanooga television news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405.