Not even a month into the last year of the 2010s, society appears to have taken a metaphorical jump forward in time to 2020. With multiple candidates declaring intentions for presidential runs from the Democratic Party alongside a younger generation more actively engaged in political affairs at an unprecedented scope, eyes are poised ahead for the 2020 presidential elections roughly over twenty-one months ahead.
Yet this attention on the upcoming presidential candidates fails to acknowledge the recent strings of domestic affairs occurring throughout the early days of 2019, especially amidst the persisting government shutdown nearing the duration of a month jeopardizing the immediate livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of federal workers without a semblance of pay to cover expenses, although reassurances of compensation after the shutdown comes to a conclusion have been guaranteed. The most significant factor contributing to the government shutdown amounts to disputes over funding of a border wall between the United States and Mexico, promised by sitting President Donald Trump on multiple occasions during the 2016 presidential campaign.
And despite the greater dedication to political engagement across the board, there are indications that burnout is unavoidable among the general populace. According to a national survey conducted by More in Common, two-thirds of Americans are estimated to be classified as an “exhaustive majority” not belonging to a political extreme that often cited fatigue over a lacking disposition to have flexible viewpoints and a comparatively smaller voice against the political extremes. The latter viewpoint pertains directly to the concept of political polarization, a central topic of discussion in relation to media outlets and political parties. Of recent note, it was reported by the Pew Research Center that Republicans that lost their bids for re-election in the House of Representatives tended to hold more moderate viewpoints in comparison to the average Republican occupying a seat, prompting some contradiction between the assumed disposition of most Americans relative to the individuals holding governmental positions at the national level.
While each particular statistic or even appears disconnected on the surface, they paint a concerning narrative with serious implications to account for within the coming year and beyond: a political dissonance is brewing with no definitive consequences. Some are becoming reclusive in fear of expressing political opinions. Others are desperate to maintain political power at the highest level. Even some are willing to fabricate and deceive in order to promote an environment that aligns with their beliefs.
These ramifications manifest themselves most prominently within social media. A common criticism of social media targets the ability of its users to tailor their friends and information flow to constitute an echo-chamber that restricts exposure to branching and opposing perspectives. Despite this, worries also remain that social media can amplify the extremity of the opinions held by it users. Given the fundamentally sensational nature of social media, provocation can easily be a source of promotion with the correct benefactors; it even maintains the famous myth that bad publicity is nonexistent.
But what can we interpret from these conditions? That we should stop using Twitter? In actuality, there is genuine benefit in acknowledging and processing the state of political affairs and the mediums that allow them to flow.
And the best time to do so is arguably now, because it appears with near certainty that a wave of political chaos will soon be unleashed with the election cycle underway, with several means to take preventative measures.
Regardless of one’s personal approval or disapproval of him, most would remain satisfied with acknowledging that Donald Trump is the most controversial president to hold office for some time. To ensure clarification, this specifically refers to the idea that his rhetoric and standing has contributed to the significant accumulation of discord within the country between both the public and political parties. One can rest assured that the election cycle will arise intense campaigning, persistent calls to action, and hundreds of public broadcasts in efforts to determine the fate of the President. It is an unpredictable time to say the least, but certainly one that will inevitably bring out the worst in many.
And more clearly than ever before, it arises great opportunities to effect gradual change. Great opportunities to reach out to those politically opposed or disillusioned, to conjure greater understanding between individuals, to alleviate the tensions that fuel the pandemonium. Even amidst the conditions present within political discourse, the beginning of the year represents a calmer period. There remains ample time for reflection, and even better chance to shift the tides towards a favorable outcome conductive to the grand majority of Americans.