Why is America so close to being ripped apart, with differences that appear to be irreconcilable?
The United States, with its vast diversity in ethnic and religious groups as well as political perspectives, has not -- with the exception of when the Union was divided by those who sought to preserve slavery -- been so torn asunder.
The reason is twofold.
The First Amendment has allowed contentious perspectives to play out to the fullest extent. All the shouting and arguing has allowed volatile differences to be aired out and defused.
There has also been deep and widespread trust in the electoral system. Although there have been irregularities in the past and some questionable practices, overall Americans have had faith that balloting has been fair.
These attributes have been misunderstood abroad. According to one former State Department official, The Chinese government believed that during the 2000 “hanging chad” election, the nation was about to be tossed into massive disorder.
Those two unique civic virtues are now being threatened.
The censorship imposed by social media giants, and the “cancel culture” throughout academia, the media, and corporate America has prevented honest and thorough discourse in the public square. Adding to the growing crisis has been the highly partisan and thoroughly inappropriate alterations in the election system, made worse by the Supreme Court’s refusal to review the issue.
A study in Tablet found that, “Between 2017 and 2018, trust in media [...] dropped from 47% to 42%. Trust in government declined even more precipitously, with a 14-percentage-point drop in the number of people who said they trusted the U.S. to ‘do what is right.’ We are less charitable, more judgmental, and more likely to go to extremes—including violence…”
It is undeniable that the 2020 election has torn America further apart than at any time since the 1860s. The harsh divide did not end with the conclusion of the balloting and the inauguration of the new president. The reasons for that are due to both censorship and cancel culture, as well as the utter failure of the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the combative issue.
A mere mention of the phrase “Stolen Election” may get one kicked off of YouTube and Facebook.
Terrified editors of both print and electric media mandate that writers and newscasters preface remarks about the very real irregularities in the 2020 ballot with disclaimers that the complaints are false, despite an almost overwhelming abundance that procedures were changed without the required legislative approval.
The U.S. Supreme Court could have, at a minimum, softened the anger if it ruled on the issues, one way or the other.
However, in keeping with Chief Justice John G. Roberts’ apparent policy of keeping away from what he considers “political” issues, the Supreme Court would not hear the complaints. It is often stated that the Trump campaign lost in its bid to have the high Court overturn the irregular changes made in various states. In reality, it never even received the opportunity for a full hearing before that august forum.
In a recent dissent to yet another Supreme Court refusal to hear an election-related case, Justice Clarence Thomas eloquently outlined the danger from this abdication:
“[...] both before and after the 2020 election, non-legislative officials in various States took it upon themselves to set the rules instead. As a result, we received an unusually high number of petitions and emergency applications contesting those changes[,] [...] unclear rules threaten to undermine this system[,] [...] they sow confusion in the integrity and ultimately dampen confidence in the integrity and fairness of elections[,] [...] changing the rules in the middle of the game is bad enough. Such rule changes by officials who lack authority to do so is even worse. When those changes alter election results, they can vary damage the electoral system on which our self-government so heavily depends.”
Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government.