Perhaps you remember the Wall Street Journal article from 2009 featuring Igor Panarin, the then “dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats.” The article centered around Prof. Panarin’s prediction that the US would “disintegrate” by the end of 2010.
It is difficult for someone like myself, who has only a peripheral involvement in politics and no training in the social sciences, to judge the motivations of Professor Panarin. Was he intentionally attempting to undermine the US and bolster Russia through propaganda? Or was he responding to his assessment of social and political forces then present? My assumption is that both are somewhat true.
No one can deny that the current crisis of cohesion has been building for decades. Given the actual facts now coming to light regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election, only fringe groups can deny that Russia has, in fact, been working for decades to bring us to this point: a nation weakened by internal strife. A nation torn apart.
What disturbs me most is the growing irrefutable evidence that our strife and division arises not only out of the natural clannishness of human nature nor even the external forces of semi-hostile nations. Our division and turmoil is increasingly being intentionally driven and exacerbated by those inside our ranks – those we have entrusted to lead us, protect us, and represent us.
Yes, I am fully aware that using divisive tactics to garner power is nothing new. The strategy is ancient. It was extremely effective for Republicans in the South in the form of the Southern Strategy. Personally, my eyes were opened in 2015 when then Irving Mayor Van Duyne vaulted to the forefront of politics, picking up a tremendous amount of prestige and political clout, by purposefully fueling misunderstanding and division surrounding the debunked rumor of “Shariah Law in Texas.” That a mayor of a city as large and diverse as Irving would intentionally twist the truth and risk inciting extreme violence for her own political gain was an awakening.
The current environment, however, seems different in both quality and quantity. The division has not been more painfully obvious since the Civil War. The external influences have never been so effective. The political environment has never been more dangerous – an environment in which our President intentionally inflames emotions both within our nation and on the international stage.
I disagree with you philosophically and politically on almost everything. And I know that this is, in part, because I am not immune to these manipulations. But nothing has made me more angry and disappointed as a Texan than your recent seemingly benign tweet about Net Neutrality.
Forget about the pros and cons of Net Neutrality. The issue here is the use of a single word.
Snowflake? Really, Senator?
In one word you hammered another blow to the wedge that is splitting us apart. You cast the debate into two groups: the “sane people” you choose to represent, and “those other people” you not only ignore, but use as a foil to bolster your “in-ness” with your power base. There can be no objective, logical debate about Net Neutrality. There are only your supporters and “snowflakes.”
You won the 2012 election by 16.1% in the popular vote. Not bad. But do 40% of your constituents simply not matter? This is what disturbs me. It’s no longer enough for politicians to ask “what’s best for my constituents?” It’s not even enough to ask “what do I think the majority of my constituents want me to do in this particular case”. Sadly, it’s not even enough to ask “what favors from senator X can I garner if I vote her way on this issue?”
No, what is apparently required is for our leaders to ask only one thing: “what can I do or say to more deeply convince my clique that I’m on their side and that I hate the other side?” The rest of us – the Snowflakes – we’re just the “other side.”
[Insert a phrase that is, ironically, intentionally divisive]
This is your pledge, Senator. You swore an oath to defend our Constitution from enemies and to “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office.” I always believed those duties included representing your constituents, not dividing and conquering.
I write this letter out of anger, frustration, and some amount of fear. In the end, however, what I truly seek is some small hope. You cannot and should not betray that majority who’s votes carried you to office. But neither should you abandon, dismiss, and attack those of us whom you still supposedly represent. And by no means should you continue this terrifying plunge into the hands of a foreign power simply to try to maintain your power in the short term.
Personally, I think we need Net Neutrality. I believe we should protect the rights of women to control their own bodies. I believe very strongly that we desperately need to address a legal system that is grossly stacked against and endangers young black men.
More than all of this, we need leadership, Senator. We need people to lead us to strength in unity. We need leaders who are on the side of all of us. We need healers and unifiers, not more destructive division. If we don’t find those leaders soon, very little else may matter.