Division in the United States is nothing new. We live in a strange Republic. We technically have fifty small countries united under one banner. We call them states. Consider the vast cultural, political, religious and social differences that can and do vary widely from state to state. No, division is nothing new to America. Sadly, it’s become a cultural norm. But being old enough to remember the Reagan years, George H. Bush, and the Clinton era, the division that I see today, is not only saddening, it’s downright frightening.
Let me just go ahead and say it. I was no fan of Barack Obama. That’s a topic for another day. My point being, I remember his election night. I was sitting in an old WW2 barracks at Fort Lewis, Washington, with my former Brother-in-Law, and then Sergeant. I remember both of us drinking ourselves to sleep that night. And neither one of us are drinkers. But we accepted it, and we moved forward. He was the Commander-in-Chief. Our highest ranking officer. So we soldiered on. And over the coming years were labeled as possible domestic terrorists, simply because we were veterans.
We served a man who refused to salute his troops. Employed drone strikes on people with immunity. And blatantly executed American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, along with his sixteen year old son. No due process, no arrest warrant. Just an Executive Order, a hellfire missile, and silence. In 2012, I watched with great horror as the National Defense Authorization Act was passed. Giving the military the power to detain American citizens without due process. On mere suspicion only. My “peers” on the progressive left were remarkably silent.
Terrorist or not, Al-Awlaki was an American citizen. And that is not how due process works. Even as a then dedicated infantryman, I saw it for what it was. Murder. Factor in all the countless scandals: Fast and Furious, Gun Runner, just to name a few. The ATF under the watch of Mr. Holder allowed weapons of American origin to make their way south of the border. One of those weapons would go on to kill Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010. And yet another one of those very guns would go on to take several lives in a night club in Paris, France in 2015. Yet the progressives were yet again remarkably silent.
It was as if conservative Americans were in a cold war with their liberal neighbors. I say a “cold” war, because it would seem the progressive left want an actual shooting war. In June, 2017, Congressman Steve Scalise was shot by lifelong socialist James Hodgkinson. However, I noticed a sudden change. The left was no longer silent. They were cheering. Yes, elected Democrats holding public office were praising Mr. Hodgkinson’s actions via social media.
I’ve witnessed things like this among progressives. I remember being in Cleveland just days before The Republication National Convention. I was talking with some rather liberal peers about how it was rumored, that there would also be a peaceful open carry protest.
I remember a friend of mine saying “Good, I hope they all f***ing kill each other!” These are educated people. They are in my opinion good people. Yet it was in that moment, my perspective changed drastically. And I remember that night it dawned on me, my heart had changed. Because I had to revisit that comment over and over in my head. Did this also include my friends and peers that would be there? People who shared my ideals. What about me? Would it bring them pleasure to see me lying in a pool of my own blood, victim of a rabid madman?
Which brings me to the entire point of this piece. This division that I speak of is no longer something we have the comfort of watching on CNN or Fox. It’s no longer an inner city problem, or a mere discomfort reserved for political talking heads. The division has come to our living rooms, to our bedrooms. It’s destroyed decades long friendships, killed marriages. And at times, left guys like me wondering why we ever served this country. Because after Mr. Trump was elected, I had to take a break from social media. I get it, no one will ever be completely happy with a President. Presidents will always have critics, and enemies.
I was a critic of Barack Obama, but make no mistake, I was also a loyal Soldier. I never considered myself his enemy, and I still don’t. I wish people would have given me that courtesy. Enter Mr. Trump, and my Facebook notifications were suddenly full of lovely insults, personal attacks, and at times down right hate speech. I left social media for a while. And when I returned, I spent the better part of a day purging my friend’s list. It pained me to do so, and sometimes I still feel a dull ache where deep, meaningful personal relationships used to be. But I’ll take that. I can’t imagine the sting of sacrificing my ideals to appease those who don’t agree.
People I laughed with, cried with, downright bled for. People I often did not agree with, but respected just the same. I had become a target of a misguided, ill-informed rage. When it wasn’t venom being spewed by former peers, it was death threats from Antifa, or Muslims threatening to cut my head off for my criticism of Islam. Strangely, none of it ever seemed to violate Facebook’s “community standards.”
It’s also amazing to consider that some of the very same people who hate a lawfully elected President. These people who have aimed their hatred at myself and others like me are the same people who will gladly give their money to NFL teams who disrespect Law Enforcement, Veterans, our National Anthem and our Flag. Yet many of these people whom I know, have fathers who served in Vietnam. But hey, go Browns!
I find myself growing bitter as I age. I miss the America I grew up in. I miss Bill Clinton bombing Iraqi medicine factories, schools and libraries, without riots in our streets. All while progressives cheered with an almost Satanic glee in their eyes. I miss being able to have an old fashioned opinion without fear of being labeled a sexist, racist, xenophobe or bigot. It’s as if we live in a new Orwellian age of “newspeak.” Don’t dare misidentify someone’s gender. You’ll find yourself in a pricey lawsuit. Don’t dare compliment a woman, you’ll be hit with a sexual harassment claim. Your career will be over, my friend.
Yes, America is a divided nation. At times I feel we’re a nation in collapse. Consider that in 2018 alone, we’ve already had three school shootings. On average, twenty-two Veterans commit suicide everyday. Male suicide is at an all time high, and I don’t think I even have to elaborate on the opioid epidemic, in which my home state of Ohio has been hit especially hard. I’ve lived in the third world. I spent a year in Egypt. A country where you can walk into a pharmacy with no prescription, and walk out with redefine, morphine, lab-grade meth. Yet you don’t see the streets littered with junkies, and you don’t see school kids murdering one another.
So what happened to us? More importantly, what does our future look like? To me, it looks positive. Consider the progress we’ve made in one year, despite fierce (yet futile) resistance from the left. Watching the State of the Union address the other night, I actually felt a sense of hope for the first time in a decade. I once again felt proud to call myself an American. Yet I had to grit my teeth when witnessing the behavior of Capitol Hill Democrats. To me, this felt like a televised version of my Facebook notifications. Misguided, petty spite aimed at our Veterans, our Flag, our lawfully elected President. It’s quite frankly a spite that I’m not only tired of witnessing, I’m beyond tired of being on the receiving end of it.
Much as with my progressive friends. People whom I loved, yet now feel nothing but distance and alienation. I believe that a good portion of America now has this same sentiment toward the left. It’s quite clear that they hate the Office and Presidency of Mr. Trump. Even clearer, they will disrespect the very foundations of our Republic, our traditions, and even Federal Law to drive this point home. It’s been a great ride, and an interesting time to live.
But to my progressive peers who would rather wallow in spite and bitterness, or launch personal attacks rather than talk about solutions, I want a divorce. I’m moving on. It was over a long time ago. It feels like the end of a long, bitter relationship. A relationship where one party is desperately trying to rekindle the past, while the other just can’t let go of bitterness. The last dying phase of a relationship where you’d rather go to the bar, or crash on a friend’s couch than go home. That’s where my heart is, and I believe that many Americans feel the same way.
As painful as some of the behavior was the other night at The State of the Union, I’m glad it happened. People who were on the fence now see it for what it is. How much longer will overpaid politicians, athletes, and entertainers get a free pass? I’d say the gravy train is quickly approaching the end of the line. We are moving forward as a people. Despite the fabricated racial division, Communist millenials, violent professors swinging bike locks, and rogue politicians. Americans have found their way, and we are very eager to move forward. If it means leaving former loved ones and colleagues behind. I can assure you, that’s a very small and insignificant price to pay for our childrens’ future. We sacrificed much more in the past, and never looked back.