NEW YORK, N.Y. Jan. 15, 2017 /Troy Media/ – As Donald Trump prepares to take the oath of office and be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, one can hardly imagine a more bitterly divided country or a citizenry more precariously teetering on the razor’s edge of calamity and open conflict.
As one president bids farewell and another enters the stage, there’s an almost palpable sense of foreboding. It’s as if there’s the slow beating of a drum that, were this a play and the houselights down, would serve as a signal to the audience that the act about to unfold will be one of the highest drama with the most critical implications for the nation – and perhaps the world.
Sides have been chosen and long ago turned their backs on one another. Well before the stroke of noon on Jan. 20, when the president is sworn in, the natural disagreements of democracy, the give and take that breathes life into that very concept, have congealed into ideologies so opposed that no compromise is imagined and no semblance of mutual respect given.
As never before, there’s a very real danger that the two sides will soon face one another outside the civility of the political arena. Should that happen, should peaceful protest turn into each side seeking retribution, then there’s the unthinkable possibility that protest will turn into private acts of punishment.
And should that happen – should citizens turn against one another in a physical sense – then the thin and fraying social fabric could be torn such that it will never be possible to stitch it back together.
There’s an ill wind gathering. Because of the nearly unprecedented vitriol and bile coming from so many dissenters – whether it be Meryl Streep or the editorial pages of countless newspapers – it appears there will be no quarter given, no high road taken and no insult left unspoken by those who loathe Trump.
I fear such a volatile state of affairs will inevitably transform into ugliness and pockets of unrest and violence. My fervent hope is that social media serves as a satisfying outlet for those who can’t hold their passions in check – as its virtual battleground will be far preferable to face-to-face confrontation in the town square, on the street corner or the dark alleyway.
The beauty of America was always manifest in the abstract – in the lyrical hope and almost adolescent sincerity weaved into the words of the Declaration of Independence, or the earnest trust and belief in a citizenry that could so order itself through a Constitution that its very structure – its physical and spiritual constitution – would be unassailable from within and without.
Is it even possible to reconcile the two Americas that now exist? Never before has Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill” seemed so far away.
I sincerely wish that the curtain about to come up on what could be the most turbulent presidency of our lifetimes doesn’t also signal the violation of so many deeply-held American principles of tolerance and compromise as to make the country unrecognizable.
Let’s hope that the always-welcome raising of voices in protest doesn’t become the raising of fists in passions so extreme that the shining city of hope and promise instead becomes a dismal fortress of suspicion and despair.
The United States of America is about to embark on an uncharted course with an unknown destination. I’m left remembering the warnings from ancient texts: That way there be dragons.
Let’s hope not.
Troy Media columnist Gavin MacFadyen is a Canada-raised, U.S.-based writer and occasional lawyer. Blending insight and wit, he brings a unique perspective to the issues of the day. Gavin is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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