BY ETHAN WILT
It has been just over one year since the election of Donald J. Trump and the commencement of the wild ride America has been on since.
If there is one word to describe the atmosphere of the past year, it would be chaos. The country appears as if it has been flipped on its head. No matter how much people try to act like everything is normal, it is not.
The past year has been filled with investigations, confusing foreign policy, controversy, and low approval ratings. This period will go down as one of the most chaotic times in American political history.
On election night, in his victory speech, Trump pledged, “I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me”. Yet since the election, he has stoked division, almost daily on his Twitter account. Not one to hold back, he has attacked both Democrats and Republicans, merely for disagreeing with him.
The multiple investigations into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and whether anyone, especially from the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, has consumed the administration. Each story that drops is a bombshell that appears to catch the administration off-guard and send it reeling.
With the firing of the FBI Director, James Comey, Trump not only intensified the investigations, but expanded them as well, by forcing the Justice Department to appoint a Special Council to conduct the investigation.
For all the talk of unity, division is what has been witnessed most often. Following the protests and violent attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, the President set himself apart from the rest of the country by refusing to specifically condemn white nationalists at the rally.
While the president is frustrated that his agenda is not getting through congress, division is not the solution.
The Republican Party has become so factionalized and members are finding it difficult to accomplish anything. The party controls both houses of Congress, as well as The White House, yet has struggled to pass any meaningful legislation from their agenda.
Over the summer, the task of repealing and replacing Obamacare stalled, and then gained steam, and then stalled again. Republicans have been swept into office since 2012, at both the federal level, as well as state and local governments.
When actually confronted with replacing the act, division set in. Moderates within the party did not want to fully dismantle the law, while hard line conservatives looked for a full repeal and a streamlined bill that would hand much of the power, funding, and decision making to the states.
These divisions proved too much to handle for the party leadership, as they failed to reconcile differences between their members, with bills either being too moderate, or too conservative.
With all of the problems existing within the Republican Party, the Democratic Party is in its own period of chaos. Members of the Obama/Clinton wing of the party are clashing with the Sanders wing, which is moving further and further left, risking the party’s viability in elections.
Since Hillary Clinton’s loss last November, the finger pointing began and has continued. Clinton herself released a book, detailing why she believes she lost. Acquaintances of Clinton, party leadership, and political pundits alike have all given their reasons for her loss as well.
Scandals within the party have only further divided the party. Bernie Sanders supporters had their worst suspicions validated with the release of emails detailing that the party preferred Clinton, and never fully gave Sanders the chance.
Up until Virginia elections a week ago, they had failed to win any of the special elections across the country. Even with the President’s approval ratings historically low, they lack a platform to run on, and it shows. In order to win elections they have to be more than anti-Trump and actually offer something.
Increasingly playing a role in divisions, the cable media plays to the worst of people of each party with Fox News on the right, and CNN and MSNBC on the left.
Each one has commentators that further push the opinions and policies of each party further and further from each other. What was once simply a disagreement now makes the other “crazy” or “insane”.
It seems as if there is no room for moderates in American government or society anymore for divisions are growing deeper and the reasons why are increasing.
It is important to remember that these issues did not arise with the candidacy and election of Donald Trump and have been brewing for years before. However the election of President Trump has intensified this climate.
These issues will not go away once he is out of office either, and it will take years, likely even decades of hard work to create an American that is amicable once again.
Disasters like hurricane Harvey this summer show that America can still unite when challenged. They show our potential, one that is not being seen often.
This year has been full of chaos, and it is difficult to remain optimistic after everything that has happened. Things will get better, but when this will happen is anyone’s guess.