Opinion

The healing that won't happen

Our warring tribes share only one thing: contempt for each other

Now comes one hell of a hangover. Our nation has been on a 180-proof Trump Vodka bender over the past year, leaving inhibitions obliterated, dark passions unleashed, and smashed furniture and emptied bottles strewn about the floor. Things have been said and done that ought not to be said and done, and they will not be forgotten. President-elect Donald Trump is calling for "America to bind the wounds of division," which is the right thing to say. But he ran and won as the upraised finger from "the deplorables" to "the elites" — as a backlash from white, rural America against multicultural liberals, immigrants, and the Republican establishment. The deep alienation that Trump supporters have felt for eight years — the sense that they were scorned strangers in their own country — has been trucked over to blue America and delivered to Hispanics, Muslims, blacks, and college-educated women. Only "the thinnest of threads" still holds the nation together, says veteran pollster Frank Luntz, who was astonished by the raw rancor he saw in his diverse focus groups. "We're one thread from everything being cut."

For healing to occur, our Balkanized country would need our warring tribes to talk to each other, understand each other's perspectives, see each other's humanity. Not much chance of that. Every faction has its own media now, where partisans can be "affirmed, not informed," as Luntz puts it. No one need be troubled by different ideas and views. Geographically, we've sorted ourselves into communities of like-minded people, so we can avoid close, personal contact with people we don't trust or like. Our nation is more polarized than at any time in recent history. It will soon be led by a president of volatile temperament, uncertain principles, and a long history of seeking to crush his critics. Where does that take us over the next four years? On a leap into the unknown.

More From...

Picture of William FalkWilliam Falk
Read All
Falling from the sky
Sam Bankman-Fried.
Talking Points

Falling from the sky

It will get worse
A view of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's house following an attack on her husband.
Talking Points

It will get worse

No, it's not over
A nurse.
Talking Points

No, it's not over

Putin's nightmare
Vladimir Putin.
Talking Points

Putin's nightmare

Recommended

Bob Iger addresses 'Don't Say Gay' bill, says inclusion is part of Disney's values
Logo of The Walt Disney Company.
Magic Kingdom Talks

Bob Iger addresses 'Don't Say Gay' bill, says inclusion is part of Disney's values

The conservatives who have turned on Trump
Donald Trump.
Briefing

The conservatives who have turned on Trump

Congress braces for looming budget battle
The Capitol.
Briefing

Congress braces for looming budget battle

Why did Merrick Garland appoint a special counsel to investigate Trump?
Trump, Garland, and Smith.
Briefing

Why did Merrick Garland appoint a special counsel to investigate Trump?

Most Popular

5 toons about Elon Musk's Twitter disaster
Editorial Cartoon.
Feature

5 toons about Elon Musk's Twitter disaster

Sanctions apparently hurting Russia's economy, Ukraine war effort
Vladimir Putin
New Pain no gain

Sanctions apparently hurting Russia's economy, Ukraine war effort

China's Xi has few good options amid protests of 'zero COVID' policy
Anti-zero COVID protest in Beijing
China's COVID protests

China's Xi has few good options amid protests of 'zero COVID' policy