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A Clash of Paradigms

Why are large portions of our citizenry so polarized in their reactions to the election of Donald Trump? For years the political left and the political right have been viewing America through two different lenses. On the left, there has been a multicultural revolution, stretching back over at least two decades, which has placed racial, ethnic and sexual orientation inclusion, followed more recently by concern about climate change, at the center of its view of America. Writers, artists, social scientists, civil servants and much of those in mainstream media have been focusing their attention on hearing the voices of Blacks and Latinos, of exploring what it means to be gay, lesbian or transgender in America, have been developing policies and programs that insure that government services are provided in languages other than English, have been reaching out to communities through churches, mosques and synagogues, have seen AIDS as our greatest health threat, and have organized around promotion of renewable energy, opposition to genetically modified plants and the fossil fuel industry. At most universities, more than 85% of faculty share these views. Those who fail to understand the validity of this paradigm are thought to be those who have been misled, are ignorant, or are bigoted, religious fundamentalists.

While the left has been attending to its priorities, those on the right have been becoming increasingly concerned that their religious freedoms are being eroded by legal decisions favoring abortion and gay marriage, that their access to guns is being threatened, that the corporations that employ them are being driven from the U.S. by excessive environmental regulations that make doing business in this country unprofitable, that their entertainment is being dominated by Black hip hop artists, that whole segments of  the population are living off the government dole, that Mexicans are streaming across the border and taking, not just jobs, but government benefits they don’t deserve, while not bothering to learn our language or customs, and that health care costs continue to threaten to wipe out what money they’ve saved or have invested in their cars and houses, and despite electing Republican congressmen who promised to do something for them, nothing originating in Washington for the last several years has addressed their problems. In their minds, the cultural left, which sees itself as the educated elite, have controlled the country’s leadership and rejected the concerns of these people.

It may be less important whether it's the views of the left or the right that are accurate than that they represent different, both American, images of our country. Because neither group watches the same television, listens to the same talk radio, reads the same newspapers, or has the same Facebook friends, both groups believe that their lens is the normal one for viewing America. As a result, when the left experiences a newly elected president who claims to be attending to the concern of those on the right, they feel as if the country they know, and its basic values, is being threatened. At the same time those on the right hear someone telling them that they have finally been heard and their needs are going to be addressed.

What’s going on in our country is not unfair. It’s not un-American. As a  result of a national election, we have a shift in the leadership  of our government to those who talk the talk of the right and may enact that paradigm in new policies.  We don’t have a moral crisis in this country we have a crisis of understanding.


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