It’s no secret that this country is divided.
Right, left. Republican, Democrat. Liberal, Conservative.
In some cases, neighbors no longer speak to each other because of how they voted in an election.
Some families can’t talk politics because of their political leanings.
The divide is real, and powerful, and deep.
But it’s not new.
We were just as divided 20 years ago, but we weren’t so constantly bombarded with each others’ views, and none of us were so often compelled to side with the most extreme versions of our views.
Thanks to social media, those walls and filters are gone.
Now, everyone with half a thought can spout off on the latest issues -- whether their opinions are informed or not.
And those views are mixed in with all the other views, and social media gives no weight to those that are thoughtful and well-reasoned over those that are ignorant and hateful.
And the divide widens ... daily.
What makes it so difficult to move the needle toward a meeting of the minds or at least toward civil discourse is that both sides are right; they just choose to focus on different facts. And most of it centers on President Trump.
His supporters see his presidency as a great success. They look at his tax cuts that put real money back into their paychecks.
They look at the overhaul of the Veterans Administration that pays for veterans be treated at civilian medical facilities when the wait is too long at VA facilities.
They look the historically low unemployment numbers.
They look at the record-high stock market.
They look at his willingness to meet with international adversaries like North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
They look at his willingness to scold our political allies like the United Nations.
They look at the tariffs and the trade war and say that, if the international community acquiesces and new trade relationships are established, it will be a revolutionary economic win for the United States.
They look at all those things and say, “He fights for us.”
They look at those things and say that those are the things history will remember about Donald Trump, the president.
Not his tweets.
But those who oppose the president see only the stain he’s leaving on the soul of a proud nation.
They look at his need to be praised, even if he’s the one who has to do it; his inability to show dignity and rise above the petty attacks that every president endures; and his childish attacks on the media and they see an egomaniac who can’t take criticism.
They look at his refusal to disclose his tax records; the investigations into his Russian connections; the arrests, charges and convictions of his political associates and they see corruption.
They look at his attacks on NFL players who kneel to protest the shooting of unarmed black men, even calling them SOBs; his policies separating immigrant children from their parents at the border; his defending neo-Nazi White Nationlists as being “very fine people” and they see a racist.
They look at his claims of having the largest inauguration in history; and his claims of losing the popular vote because of 3 million to 5 million illegal votes; and hundreds of other documented falsehoods, and they see a liar.
Neither side is wrong. And both sides refuse to see what the other sees.
A man who disassociated himself with two friends after he found out they voted for President Trump was asked what he thought of those friends before the election.
“Oh, they’re very fine people,” he said.
Maybe we should let what we know about our friends and neighbors and family apart from their political views dictate how we respond to them when it comes to politics.
Not the other way around.