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Beware of people with political shovels trying to deepen the divide

If one were to listen to the never-sleeping news cycle, it would appear as if we, American citizens, only have two options when it comes to our political beliefs - we fall straight right or we fall straight left. There are many talking heads popping up on these news cycles that would have us believe that all people on the "other side" are nothing but malicious scoundrels who would love nothing more than to destroy us and our way of life ... "us" being the people on the "correct side".

The political divide in this country, including in our own, small little communities, appears to be deepening to the point where it's no longer just a political divide, but an actual one. Anger continues to fester, not just against the politicians in office, but against our own neighbors. And what's worse, it also appears that some very cunning people are taking just a little bit too much pleasure in it, and are in fact taking shovels and purposefully deepening that divide.

Case in point: When Kathy Griffin came out with her stupid "joke" that had her holding what appeared to be a bloody, severed head of Donald Trump, it's pretty safe to say that there were about four Americans total who actually thought it was funny. The vast majority of people thought it was sick, and liberals took to social media right away to condemn it. And yet, Donald Trump Jr. takes to Twitter to say things like, "Disgusting but not surprising. This is the left today. They consider this acceptable."

Um, what? Who considered it acceptable? CNN fired her, Al Franken cancelled an event with her, her own "liberal" friend, Anderson Cooper came out publically against her, and yet the President's son—who by all measure has great influence over a lot of people—goes out and aligns Griffin with the left and paints the picture that "this is what the left is." If he were only inaccurate in this statement, it would be one thing, but he was straight-up divisive.

It can be just as bad on the other side. People who consider themselves true liberals are continually jumping on every single opportunity they can find to paint "Trumpsters" as one, big group of racists who hate the environment. Their disdain for the President often runs directly from him onto his voters without distinction. Those people are on the "other side"—deplorables. And with every hate word spewed between the two groups, more and more people seem to be falling for it and choosing sides like we're in high school.

Here's the thing, though—this is the United States of America, and in case people have forgotten, we get to have free, independent minds here. We don't have to align ourselves with a political group just because they happen to be the ones with the loudest voices. And if we do decide we are a Democrat or Republican, we don't have to automatically believe that people in the other party are without merit and good intentions just because somebody else is whispering in our ear that they are. We don't have to hate our neighbor, simply because we remember them having a certain political sign in their yard last fall.

Not all politicians are bad, either—some are truly in it as a way to help keep America great. But there is so much spin out there that it's making perfectly sensible people dizzy, and whether the politicians do it, their supporters do it, or certain media spinoffs do it, American citizens need to wisen up to what is happening. Fake news stories planted on social media are also doing their job in dividing us because they are literally fabricated pieces of information designed to fool everyday citizens into thinking the "other side" is horrendous as people.

For example, one was recently circulating that supposedly had Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, responding to the London terrorist attacks as saying in her Twitter feed, "Please pray for the safety of our Muslim brothers and sisters in #London. Our inaction on climate change and healthcare has pushed them to this." The problem was, Waters never posted that—nothing even remotely close. What she actually tweeted was, "My prayers are w/ London & the families of those affected by this cowardly attack. US will stand w/its allies in the fight against terrorism." Two totally different messages, and yet the first one is the one that circulated the most and angered unsuspecting citizens who believed it was true. Wow, she really must be on the "other side" if she thinks that, right?

People, do not get played. Right now, political puppets, propagandists and trolls are working us all over and making us look like fools. We are not sheep, we are Americans, and our divisions are only as deep as we let them become.

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes and Perham, both in Minnesota.

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