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A Metaphor for Division in American Society

Robert Dimuro

Posted on December 7, 2019 23:17

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A metaphor for the division and tension rife in America today.

A perfect way to visualize America’s political landscape is to imagine the United States as a rubber band at rest on a table of ideas - containing within it America’s population. In its natural, unstretched state, the rubber band represents a period of satisfaction, peace, and unity between America’s many different factions and communities.

Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the natural state of the American rubber band, as there are always political issues and cultural differences that encourage division and balkanization that transcend the boundaries of states, counties, and municipalities. These forces stretch the rubber band from all opposing sides and increase its tension.

Since Trump’s rise to power, this tension has been at its height. Trump’s popular support, as well as Bernie’s, is, in part, a repudiation of the establishment elite by average, working-class Americans. Party leadership, special interest groups, and corporations all benefit from an unstretched rubber band, in which the masses are tamed and the elite machinery can continue to covertly pull the strings from the rubber band’s center.

In order to remain inconspicuously in the center, the establishment must be flexible to long-term changes in the Overton Window of acceptable ideas. As I mentioned in previous articles, various factors routinely shift the Overton Window, which, in this metaphor, move the rubber band across the table of acceptable ideas. This is because those who spark change in society are typically progressives and radicals who, as the vocal minorities on the outskirts of the rubber band, push it in a certain direction. Naturally, therefore, the establishment bends with the wind and moves with the rubber band.

However, our current state of affairs poses the question: How does the establishment deal with diametrical opposition from each side of the rubber band? The radical Left and its opposition from Trump’s energized Right are stretching the rubber band from opposite directions with considerable force. More and more Americans are finding themselves at home far from the establishment center, which has taken the status quo for granted and fallen through on too many promises. As this is happening, the center is shrinking and losing control over the rubber band’s stability.

If this trend continues, the rubber band will stretch to its maximum length and eventually break. It would take decades for this to happen, as America was founded on an extremely solid foundation - our great Constitution. However, our rubber band has broken before over the issue of slavery, dividing America in half and resulting in the Civil War.

Many writers and think-tanks warn us of an actual war breaking out today, as competing factions vie to implement change in meta-constitutional ways. The people are losing faith in the governing elite’s ability to actually govern our nation. As a result of Congress’s gridlock and our lawmakers’ ineptitude, the Courts are issuing decrees like autocrats, and citizens are taking to the streets to make their voices heard. This is the price we’ve paid for our disunity and corrupt establishment politics.

Robert Dimuro

Posted on December 7, 2019 23:17

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Source: Quartz

Inference advertises itself as a quarterly review of the sciences. MIT’s Noam Chomsky sits on its board of editors , and...

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