There exists a dark side to American politics, a side we are not comfortable with, a side that can only survive by feeding on our anger, hatred and prejudices. When times are good and our resolve as a nation is not being tested the dark side is pushed back into the shadows, but at those times when America is challenged and struggling the dark side seizes the opportunity to turn Americans against each other.
Our past provides a case history of what can happen when we allow our darker side to overshadow the good in us. The Civil War if nothing more serves as a warning of the destruction that results when we begin to see ourselves as Southerners and Northerners and not fellow Americans. Yet today, some politicians are reviving regionalism and separatism, playing on our differences, not just the north verses south, but religious differences, city verses country, and liberal verses conservative, making us believe that we are more different than we are the same.
No political group or party has the right to maintain its base of support by fostering conflict between different cultural and religious groups within our nation. Generating political support by emphasizing our differences is a dangerous path and not just American history but rather world history is testament to that fact.
The political pendulum in America swings back and forth, at times liberal and progressive and at other times more conservative and cautious, but if you don’t like where the pendulum is at the moment, wait — it swings both ways. But in 2008, too many people on the conservative side over-reacted and turned to the darker side and only focused on our differences as a people and not our commonalities as a nation. It’s possible that the conservative Republicans were overwhelmed by the national euphoria that was generated by the election of the first African-American President. Conservatives might have felt that the “old order” was upset by this election and they wanted to take back a time that was now in the past.
My only hope is that the election of 2012, one way or another, marks the end of a political era that focuses on our cultural and religious differences as a nation. Elections should be about politics, not the way we choose to live our private lives or exercise our religious freedom.