Pete Palmere

Pete Palmere

There is no mistaking the partisan divide in the Union now. After Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton in the last election, it appears the country has split into two different ideologies. Unfortunately, the split is not cordial but has devolved into factions and is marked by intense vitriol.

Whether you believe him or not, Barack Obama once observed that “Fox News viewers and New York Times readers live in entirely different realities.” His greater point is that it is not just those media observers but generally many others. He blamed the phenomena on both parties (and those who associate with one party or the other) in becoming more ideological.

He noted that newscasters had previously operated differently in that “there was a common set of facts, a baseline around which both parties had to adapt and respond to." Now it appears that each media outlet has its own set of facts.

Obama further noted that one should read or listen to media that has a wholly opposite point of view. He stated that it may make one’s blood boil and not change anyone’s mind, but “the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship. It is essential for our democracy."

Not many seem to have taken his advice and have retreated into their camps with each advancing their own viewpoints, sometimes in caustic terms. We see it not only on the national stage from both private citizens and elected officials but also at the local level. One has only to read this paper’s opinion columns and letters to the editor to see the contrast. Any call for a more civil discourse has gone unheeded. So, what is the outlook going forward?

A lot will be decided if it turns out that Sen. Bernie Sanders gets the Democratic nomination. No clearer delineation of values will present themselves than in a Trump-Sanders presidential race. It will be a clear choice for each voter. Either set aside Trump derangement syndrome and vote for his version of capitalism or cast a ballot for socialism as espoused by Sanders. On the other hand, should former Vice President Joe Biden be nominated, the election will be a contest between Trump’s populism and Biden’s politics as usual (back to the swamp in Trump’s terms).

Now that Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren have dropped out of the primary, it appears the voting decision will be become clearer. It is almost ironic that we will be choosing not just on issues but rather what old white guy we want in the office; by November’s voting, Biden, 78; Bernie, 79; and Trump, 74. Also throw in Bloomberg (at 79) had he survived.

Because all are aged, it is of some importance as to whom the candidate picks for a running mate, and not just from an electability standpoint. It would be of vital concern as to their political philosophy should the elected president die in office. This is a thread now appearing on social media.

Perhaps this is an improbable scenario, but what if Sanders picks Warren or, even more troubling, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as his running mate? Remember, Bernie had a heart attack recently, and, at his age, anything is possible. Ocasio-Cortez and her squad have pushed the Democratic Party far to the left so just imagine what the ramifications are for the country should she ascend to the office. Could we live with that?

More likely, should either Sanders or Biden be nominated, is Buttigieg as running mate. He is more centrist and would appeal to younger voters and the LGBT community. This would be an easier ticket to swallow for most Americans. Similarly, Klobuchar is also more moderate and could influence the female vote. Does anyone think that the timing of the Buttigieg and Klobuchar announcements of their withdrawal (and endorsements of Biden) just before Super Tuesday was unplanned?

How should one decide on who to vote for this presidential election? Can any of us cast aside our preconceived notions and try to understand where the candidates stand on the issues? Would it not be better to vote for the candidate whose ideas one thinks better for the country instead of solely voting to not re-elect Trump and to hell with the consequences.

With a nod to the above Obama observations, "Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?" asked Henry David Thoreau, the 19th-century American philosopher and abolitionist.

< End – Edited - P.M. Palmere >

Pete Palmere has lived and worked in the South since 2006 and has spent the last 10 years in Aiken. He currently works with Self Storage Development.