A local, non-political radio show here in Indianapolis did a rare political segment last month.
They allowed callers to dial in and give a one-year report card on President Donald Trump. The callers were told to simply assign a letter grade to the president and briefly explain why they felt
the way they did. There was no debate, no back-and-forth between the hosts and the callers. Just one caller after another, giving a grade and explaining it in one short sentence. Each call didn’t last more than seven seconds.
The responses were interesting.
And very indicative of where we are as a county.
There were few grades in the B-D range.
Almost all were either As or Fs. Most of the Fs came from people who, understandably, feel that Trump has polarized this country through divisive rhetoric. Meanwhile, the As, understandably, came from people who cited the tax bill. They also credited the president for jumps in their investment portfolio and retirement accounts.
Still, the wedge is increasingly getting larger, and shows no signs of coming together.
Let's face some facts.
There is a large segment of our population that blindly supports whatever Donald Trump says or does. Some have sacrificed their principles for a president and fail to hold him to the same standards of accountability that they held Barack Obama to. If the former president ever called NFL players protesting abortion or taking a knee to pray a bunch of SOBs, they would be outraged, but are totally fine with Trump and his word choice.
But likewise, there is a large segment of our population that finds Trump’s very existence in the White House to be repulsive. They regard all of Trump’s success as a matter of pure luck or a product of Barack Obama’s policies; meanwhile, any failure is on Trump’s shoulders alone. They also find his supporters – their fellow Americans – to be racist and misogynistic traitors who fail to put “country over party.” They just wish the past year was a bad dream. They probably hope Hillary Clinton or any prominent Democrat would cometh on the clouds, parachute into the fray, and save us all from doom.
On both sides, many thinkers and smart people who I used to respect and admire have given into this partisan war.
This reveals a deep wedge that continues to divide our country more and more. Neither side seems willing to give an inch. Nobody is willing to compromise or listen. Few can actually look at this president and think critically.
Maybe I'm old school, but what I’m willing to do is listen with an open mind. I’m certainly not willing to label my fellow countrymen and women as enemies of the state for protesting, or narrow-minded bigots for a decision made at the ballot box. Maybe having such an attitude would bring us together, rather than divide us.
I wrote awhile back that we need to have more conversations off Twitter, replacing our phones with coffee cups and our social media feeds with face-to-face interaction.
Sadly, I’m not sure even that will help.