The US Is Burning Bridges Instead of Building Them

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The US has long been divided into two worlds. Left-liberal areas stretching on both coasts of the country allied with big cities stand face to face with the strongly right-wing-oriented conservative middle and southern part of the country. The great divide has been extensively fed by a colourful palette of issues, from the support/disapproval of the current or former president, through a worldly perspective either from a cosmopolitan or traditional standpoint, all the way to the question of the future direction of the US. The trajectory of the two camps´ open conflict has been marked from their mutual hostility via political campaigns and tipped by the electoral victory of Donald Trump.

In an ideal world we would be talking of a clash of ideas between traditional values and cosmopolitanism, or individualism and solidarity. However, the last few months saw the escalation of this conflict into a war of mutual obloquy and defamation coupled with a targeted humiliation of symbols intended to stir up emotions on both sides. In such an explosive atmosphere, it is not relevant anymore to look for the spark that ignited the heated divisions. The candidacy of Donald Trump would not have been possible had the extravagant businessman not played music to the ears of conservative and populist movements that have been continuously mocked by liberal elites who were so sure of their unshakable position on the political throne.

It is all that more triste to observe the remaining liberal elites pouring oil into the fire of American society with a new agenda aimed at harnessing electoral support and massively supported by both US and (regretfully) European media. Acknwoledging their lack of breath in current affairs, liberals shifted their attention to history and kicked their worst enemises in places where it hurts most. One of the questions so intensely debated in the media is the contentious topic of civil war. The same war which over 150 years ago caused a faceoff between the North and the South.

The legacy of the bitter feud between Northern liberals and conservatives from the South reminded today´s liberals of their distaste for Confederate memorials recalling the names of fallen soldiers and the statues of southern generals looming over their leftist heads. Politicans across the whole country (but with a specific intensity in southern towns) unveiled (often with enthusiastic support of the general public) incentives to demolish or at least relocate the profane marbles from public areas.

The answer has been quick to come and was quite predictable to a certain extent. Conservative, predominantly southern circles, swiftly activated their membership bases and incorporated tiny pockets of extremists and white supremacists (e.g. Ku-Klux Klan). This was precisely the outcome liberal elites and the media, including Slovak outlets, were hoping for. They sorted all their opponents under one explicit label. After all, it is glisteningly obvious even at first sight who the nice guys and bad cops are in this story, giving the media an easy target for cooking up prejudice and a likeable ally to support.

This strategy will also generate approval from the populace that is simply too lazy to further investigate such complex developments, leaving the people exposed to a merely superficial viewpoint. And this is what this war is all about. It is not about the unification of the US, it is intended to defeat the enemy. And to do it by public condemnation, mockery, humiliation, and abasement. Appeasement is out of question. The goal is to crush the radicalized opposition, to banish the enemy, diminish them into a minority, cause moral loss. Consequences? All bridges will soon be burnt and there will be no one left to rebuild them. The war of two worlds in the US will go on until an outcome that might not please either of the parties is reached. But who cares if the victorious side subsequently declares the righteousness of its own cause?

Translated by Edward Szekeres

Martin Reguli