A year after the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th during a 2020 election protest, polarization prevails in the United States and lack of trust has only deepened. Only 20% of Americans have faith in the integrity of its election system (a nearly 50% drop from the previous year) according to a new ABC/Ipsos poll. Finding a common ground between Republicans and Democrats to recover public confidence looks impossible, but there is no other alternative in this matter of existential importance.
Exactly one year ago former President Donald Trump’s supporters invaded Capitol Hill in an attempt to prevent the ratification of Joe Biden as the nation’s leader. At that time the country was fraught with deep political divisions and social tensions that ripped Americans apart into two factions. While half of the nation exuberantly celebrated, the other half felt disenfranchised, frustrated, and angry which boiled over into vehement questions of fraud in the electoral process.
Nothing has changed much. The wounds are deep, still raw, open, and bleeding. America remains torn apart and the social divide has intensified. A recent University of Massachusetts poll reveals that 71% of Republicans consider Joe Biden’s victory illegitimate, and on the other side, 91% of Democrats believe Biden was duly elected.
There is no problem with different camps being in disagreement as there will always be differences in opinions. The real threat is the extremism. The current mistrust and strong mutual accusations are eroding America’s social fabric. The situation is so bad now that it is hard to believe it could get even worse. But the current breakage being revealed now in US politics and between its citizens actually poses a unique opportunity for all to realize that there is no way to survive and thrive unless the country unites.
The alternative scenario is an unbearably explosive situation of constant strife that is on course to erupt into the total internal disruption of America. This will clearly not benefit any side or any individual. In the interdependent and interconnected reality we live in, breaking the boat that keeps everyone afloat will only sink and drown all so quickly that no means of bailing out will remain. Currently each side is too busy paddling in its own direction to even notice there is a hole in the boat.
What is needed is to reveal something that currently does not exist: a common denominator to repair the breakage. The disparate positions can yield this together, and only together. The Republicans lean to the economic side, to industry, and the military, and Democrats lean toward social movements, massive protests, rousing pretty words to achieve their agendas. Can one live without the other? No, that is impossible, one side cannot wipe out the other; they need to be balanced in such a way that the trust in the democratic system is restored.
The two opposite parties and their followers that are currently in a trajectory of greater separation need to do the opposite of their current inclinations and instead get closer, not because they profoundly love each other or even agree with each other, but because they need to find their shared interest, the nation. It is in everyone’s common interest to overcome their differences to keep America afloat.
Trump supporters protest on the steps of U.S. Capitol in Washington on January 6, 2021. Photo by Yuri Gripas/ABACAPRESS.COM