Party Politics at Home and Abroad

By Michael Patrick, Ph.D.

This week, Vice-President Mike Pence warned supporters with a campaign mantra that “you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” Frankly, I’m happy to say I feel safe having made it through a social gathering recently where presidential politics came up.

The lovely party was largely made up of expats. The hosts delivered a wonderful evening. Things were kiting along nicely until America’s latest unraveling came up. Things got slightly awkward for a spell. Admittedly, I set off that party stink bomb by bringing up the Wisconsin shootings and the elections.

One group remained wisely silent, but whom I’m pretty sure supports the GOP as the best choice. Another large group despises Trump—one person comparing him to Adolf Hitler.

With the country so polarized, I offered that it made for opportunities for me to talk with my students about critical journalistic and communication issues. What’s happening in Belarus next door also fascinates me. By contrast, despite a violent government crackdown, the widespread uprising there has taken a non-violent approach in the streets.

One fellow told me that America wasn’t really deeply polarized, and another agreed with assurances that the elections outcome wouldn’t change things much either way.

As a political agnostic, I was mildly astonished by all of it, and then I realized that the room in some ways reflected the breadth of American opinions right now.

The spot of good news in the moment was that people kept things largely civil and all wished each other the best at evening’s end. So far, it doesn’t look like Americans at home will do the same.

Hillary Clinton agreed with me this week that the election results won’t be known quickly. She oddly advised Biden not to quickly concede the election if he loses. The courts will be busy. I’ve said things may not be settled until January 6th when Congress is responsible for certifying the election. If all the other disasters roaming America are any indicators, the worst has yet to come.

Play nice out there.

Pew Center research on Polarization.

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