The battle for the White House is over, and millions of Americans are hoping the era of America’s “uncivil war” has come to an end, as well.
That’s the term President Joe Biden used in his inaugural address to refer to the bitter divisions of politics and race that marked the presidential elections and the past four years under President Donald Trump. These divisions culminated with violence at the Capitol two weeks ago, with five people being killed and Trump’s second impeachment.
Live On PennLive with Joyce Davis
The battle for the White House is over. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were inaugurated today in what many are heralding as a triumph for democracy. Bring your respectful questions and comments for the last Battleground PA discussion on today's Facebook Live.Posted by PennLive.com on Wednesday, January 20, 2021
PennLive’s Battleground PA podcast has spent the past year exploring the reasons for the alarming animosity between Republicans and Democrats, with Jeffrey Lord, a Trump loyalist, and Rogette Harris, a rising star in the Democratic party, paired off each week. And PennLive readers have weighed in, making their opinions known on everything from whether refugees should be stopped at the southern border to whether Donald Trump should wear a mask.
The Battleground PA podcast aired for a final time on Wednesday, with the pundits and readers addressing one of the most important issues facing our nation: have Americans had enough?
Have Americans learned any lessons from the meanness and the name-calling that now characterizes public discourse? Have we learned anything about the danger of stirring up racial divisions and pitting one group against each other? Have we learned anything about what it takes to keep a republic and to safeguard a democracy?
Lord, a staunch Trump supporter, doesn’t blame the former president for inciting violence, as so many people do. And he’s not convinced President Biden is really sincere in seeking to work with those who didn’t vote for him.
Lord believes social media is responsible for spreading the meanness in American society and for encouraging Americans to turn against each other. And while she doesn’t let Trump off the hook, Harris agrees “100 percent.”
And so do many of our readers:
“Social media will be the death of our country,” Colleen Stough Markel wrote in the final Facebook Live taping of PennLive’s Battleground PA podcast only hours after Biden and Harris were inaugurated.
“Social media gives those an audience that might not otherwise have one,” Linda Whipple Crum added.
But Linda Segarra believes there’s another problem: “The NEWS people twist stuff.”
The truth is, social media is not the villain. It is but a medium, albeit a powerful one, which too many people use as a weapon to spread half-truths, outright lies and even to incite violence in our communities.
The problem is how the medium is used, and who uses it. If social media were used to spread the message of uniting Americans, as Biden tried to do in his inaugural address, it would not be a weapon that further divides good people.
If social media were used to promote the highest ideals of patriotism, honor and mutual respect, it would not be a problem.
And if social media were used spread truth instead of to misinform, mislead and slander, it would not be held in such disdain by so many Americans.
On a day when much of the nation was celebrating with rightful pride the beautiful ceremonies of American democracy, some continued to use social media to divide and to repeat lies. You can find them in the Facebook chat box on the Battleground PA video, if you want a reminder of what Americans need to stop if our nation is to prosper.
But social media, including the Battleground PA podcasts and our Facebook Lives, also have provided a platform for messages that unite and lift us up as one people and as one nation.
Congratulations to our new leaders!” Mertie Arnold wrote.
“Unity vs division,” Laine Snow wrote. “I choose unity.”
Allison Deas summed it up best: “I think we, as Americans, need to stop the vile mudslinging from both sides and stop using a keyboard as our courage to be nasty. Until that can happen, we cannot mend the divide.”
That’s about right, Allison. Until we can discuss and debate issues with civility and respect, the divisions will remain. And the democracy we so cherish will continue to be threatened, not from without, but from within.
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