President Trump has never focused much on uniting the American people. As of this past January, Trump’s approval rating among Republicans was at 89% compared to only 7% among Democrats. This split of 82 points is the highest in American history, beating Trump’s previous record set last year of a 79 point split.
But from where exactly does this extreme polarization stem?
From the beginning of his presidency, Trump’s election was extremely upsetting to many in the Democratic aisle. He won the 2016 election with 304 electoral votes, beating Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton’s 227, despite having 3 million fewer popular votes than Clinton. With such a wide gap, this raised questions about the electoral college's effectiveness 233 years after its creation.
We were always told of the college’s effect to not allow the oppression of rural communities by regions with large cities, but is it right to assume that everyone in a region wants the same person to be elected? Who’s to say that every person in Kansas really wanted Donald J. Trump as their next U.S. president?
But to say that a rift was caused by Trump would be incorrect, as some would say it was due to a process he had no control over, maybe—see the Mueller report.
This rift grew deeper when Trump tried using his presidential power to give himself an advantage over Democrat Joe Biden in 2019. This effectively led to Trump’s impeachment and acquittal by the Republican-run Senate. While the process itself was a showcase of just how polarized the country is (with no Republicans, save one, breaking from the party), it was what occured on the part of the President during a process that was extremely out of hand.
President Trump tweeted in September 2019 that should Democrats succeed in removing him from office, it would “cause a Civil War-like fracture in this nation from which our country will never heal.”
Trump attacked Democrats and called them out for trying to divide the country. This is not something the people of the U.S. were doing. Instead, it is something that he has been doing throughout his presidential career.
Even when he called for more bipartisanship last month, Trump immediately turned around the next day and attacked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. His bipartisan call lasted the length of time it takes to sleep overnight, wake up and tweet —nine hours if you’re counting.
“Nancy Pelosi all of a sudden doesn’t like the payroll tax cut, but when Obama proposed it she thought it was a brilliant thing that all of the working families would benefit from because if you get a paycheck, you’re going to take home more money.” @kilmeade @foxandfriends— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2020
But most recently, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump accused the media and Democrats of fear-mongering and exaggerating how dangerous the virus is (dangers which have now mostly been proven true). He treated the virus more seriously as the death toll has gone up, but continues to try and negate just how catastrophic the effects may be, contradicting himself as he tries to save face.
A leader who takes special interest in only his own party and continues attacking his rivals while a pandemic continues to spread is a major problem.
Trump is a man who likes to bully half of the U.S. population, while standing with the other half. He divides people when a true leader would unify them. When this next election cycle comes up, you should ask yourself if you want that for your president.
Brett Knepper is a sophomore from Newton studying English creative writing.