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Is Unity Still Possible in America?

On the sun-bright, frigid morning of Wednesday, January 21, 2021, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, along with Vice President Kamala Harris. This was a historic moment not only because of the installment of our nation’s first woman of color Vice President, but because it represented closure from the tyrannical reign of former President Donald Trump. After months of social unrest and economic strife, the whole world was watching.

Joe Biden’s speech, naturally, was delivered with the intent of addressing all the division that Donald Trump sowed under his administration. In fact, much of Biden’s term will probably be spent undoing Trump’s actions, reversing their political and social damage (within a week, he’s already signed a federal mandate for masks and rejoined the Paris Agreement). In his speech, Biden vowed to be a “president for everyone,” claiming that it is “okay to disagree,” as disagreement is the heart and core of democracy.

Diversity of thought is, without a doubt, the cornerstone of democracy. It is an unalienable right that governs even our own government, shields us citizens. But ever since 2016, that so-called diversity has been slowly diluted, pooling at the extremes. Most of us would agree that the two-party system within America is flawed, and that, in a utopian America, we’d have a multiparty system with numerous shades of thought — not just binary beliefs.

Granted, historically, the two-party system didn’t completely hamstring our government. But, historically, each party acted with some semblance of the dignity and honor that Biden promised to restore. There was outrage, rancor, sketchiness, as is always the case with politics. Yet there certainly was never a bungling president who managed to foment a violent rebellion amongst his sycophants, who proudly carried Confederate flags and wore shirts emblazoned with anti-Semitism.

Now, at 2021, the country seems more politically and socially polarized than ever before: Republicans are not just Republicans to Democrats, but Trump supporters, crusading not for Republican policies, but for Trump’s policies. Democrats, to Republicans, are radical liberals, hell-bent on destroying the venerable history of America and plunging us into socialism. The two-party system seems, to me, more a curse than a blessing. An insurmountable chasm.

Unity is an attractive buzzword to use, especially for a newly anointed president who wants to inspire hope. But unity works beautifully in theory, not so beautifully in practice. After all, as a white, rich man who now holds tremendous power, it’s easy for Biden to imagine unity. He was never been belittled or demeaned by Trump and Trump supporters, at least not in the same sense that marginalized communities are. He could not comprehend that the sentiment of “unity” may entail that these wounded communities forgive bigotry, forgive racism, and, simply, move on.

At this point, what even is the definition of unity? If it’s having the same philosophies? That is untenable. If it’s working towards the same goal? That is equally untenable. It is no longer the case that both parties believe in uplifting America to the same ideal of prosperity with different paths. It is no longer so simple. Republicans and Democrats, now, believe in bringing America in completely opposing directions. Government functions not as a well-oiled machine of cooperation, but of tug-of-war, of gridlock.

Perhaps, then, if there is anything to be done, there will never be unity. Perhaps one party must always be grappling for complete control of the executive and legislative branch. The victories of the Democrats were necessary to counterbalance all the havoc Trump has wreaked, this time. But what about in the future? The prospect of only one political party in control, with a forever polarized two-party system, spells a haunting image. Yet, for now, I do not believe that unity is possible.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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