Well, It looks like we have a winner in the presidential race - sort of.
At the time I started writing this, the outcome of the election was still uncertain. Now, a few days later, it appears Joe Biden will be the winner, although that is still likely to be in dispute as counts are finalized and recounts occur.
What is absolutely certain, is that our nation is divided, with half of the people supporting Trump and half supporting Biden.
It would be easy to conclude that this division simply reflects political differences. Politics have always brought out division and disagreements.
However, I think what’s happening now goes much deeper and is relatively new and unprecedented. I believe It reflects a radical division of the American people themselves: their ideas, philosophies, values and beliefs. Our nation is now roughly divided into two groups of people who each have dramatically different ways of thinking and seeing the world. The disagreements and fights in politics only reflect the way plain, ordinary people feel. Basically, we want what we want and are unwilling to compromise or back down on our demands.
People have always disagreed about how to best run and govern this country. But in the past, even with sharp disagreements, most people still all had the same basic values and beliefs. For the most part, they all agreed about what was important and what was right and wrong, even if they had different ideas about how to get there.
That’s simply no longer true.
We now consist of at least two groups of people who by all rights should each have their own country. That’s because they not only have fundamentally different beliefs, but they are also unwilling to compromise or even work with each other.
These groups don’t understand each other and don’t really want to. The idea of compromise is abhorrent to them because it violates everything they believe in and how they make sense of the world.
And yet, that’s precisely what we have to do if we want to survive as a united nation. The alternative is something that most nations throughout history have faced and endured. And yet we - as inhabitants of a relatively new country - seem to think it is impossible, or at least improbable. The ugly truth is that without a shared vision and basic beliefs we are in danger of civil war, abandoning our constitution, or possibly splitting into several smaller countries.
You don’t believe it could happen? Just take a good look at what's been happening in cities throughout the country as crowds of people riot and destroy property. It looks very similar to what we might see on the news in other countries that are breaking apart. There seems to be a growing number of activists who would love to overthrow the United States and turn it into something radically different.
But you also see it in social media and other forms of internet communication. We have degraded ourselves into believing that we have a right to always be heard and that we are always right. For as much as we celebrate tolerance and diversity, it obviously doesn’t apply to other people’s political viewpoints or beliefs. How can we survive being divided so much?
Part of the problem is that we seem to have nothing in common, nothing that we would all stand together to fight for. But that’s just an illusion. Rather than the current obsession with celebrating our differences, maybe we need to take some time to find our similarities.
We may never totally understand each other, but we could at least embrace civility, openly communicate with each other face-to-face, and maybe even compromise a little. Short of one side magically receiving a revelation that they are wrong and doing a one-eighty, what other choice do we have?
“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.