America's bitter divide is the true existential threat

America's bitter divide is the true existential threat
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Unemployment is at historic lows — for whites, for blacks, for Latinos, for Asians, for men, for women, for just about everybody. The stock market is up, and so is consumer confidence. 

Even Americans who don’t like the president give him high marks on how he’s handling the economy. Wages are rising for the least skilled and least educated among us. We’re not at war. Except with each other.

We’re bitterly divided in ways that aren’t good for the country. We’ve chosen sides and we’re dug in. I remember 1968, when this nation was angry and divided over the war in Vietnam. Now we’re angry and divided over everything


And Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE, of course, is right in the middle of it all. 

Nothing the president does pleases his political enemies. Nothing he does displeases his most loyal supporters. One side will never embrace him. The other will never abandon him.

If Trump says 2 plus 2 equals 4, the left would say he’s lying. If he says 2 plus 2 equals 3, his supporters would nod their heads in agreement. 

During his State of the Union address, he laid out his accomplishments. While Democrats sat on their hands, Republicans cheered, repeatedly and enthusiastically. They shouted “U.S.A.” and “Four more years!” It was all too much for a longtime liberal friend, who was watching on TV and sent me a text message. “Republicans are an embarrassment,” she wrote, not hiding her disgust with the president’s allies, who she said were shamelessly “slobbering” all over him.

I didn’t respond. Why waste my time? She’s smart and usually civil, but Donald Trump has made her, and millions of others just like her, irrational. 


When the speech ended, Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Bass on filling Harris's Senate spot: 'I'll keep all my options open' Win by QAnon believer creates new headaches for House GOP MORE was the irrational one. She dramatically ripped her copy of the president’s speech into pieces — and she did it right there, on national television.  

A few days earlier, Congressman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBy questioning Barr, Democrats unmasked their policy of betrayal Chris Wallace: Barr hearing 'an embarrassment' for Democrats: 'Just wanted to excoriate him' Apple posts blowout third quarter MORE (D-N.Y.) called the president a “dictator” — and he said it, not on some left-wing television show, but on the floor of the United States Senate. 

I’m starting to believe that what we’re witnessing on the left is not just the usual loathing of Donald Trump. I’m starting to believe what we’re witnessing is fear.

Fear that, despite all of his shortcomings, the man they despise will win reelection, no matter who the Democrats nominate to run against him.

Fear also that, despite the fact they’ve impeached him, his approval numbers didn’t go down. They went up — to 49 percent, according to Gallup, the highest of his presidency.  

Maybe that’s not only because he’s benefiting from a strong economy. Maybe it’s also because impeachment didn’t have the desired effect for which Democrats had hoped; that, instead of hurting the president, it’s hurting the party that impeached him, and did so along partisan lines.

I get the impression Democrats are worried, and wondering: How could this happen? How could a man they find so detestable fool so many Americans?   

I suspect they conclude that those blue-collar workers who support the president are just too dense to know any better; that a good chunk of Trump supporters hate blacks, Latinos, women, gays, and are the very same deplorable right-wingers that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Trump campaign spox rips GOP congressman over rejection of QAnon conspiracy Biden hits back after Trump's attacks on Harris MORE warned us about — right before she lost the election.

And if Donald Trump wins a second term, they’ll blame the president’s lies and his supporters’ supposed bigotry for the victory — because it couldn’t possibly be their support for free medical care for everyone, including illegal immigrants … and free college for everyone … and a gazillion-dollar break-the-bank Green New Deal … or the gloomy picture they constantly paint of America in their debates, a picture that doesn’t conform to the lives most Americans are living everyday.

The left is obsessed with what they say is the “existential threat” that climate change poses for our planet. I’ll worry about that tomorrow. Today I worry that we live in two Americas — one blue, one red — and each side despises the other. We’ve lost friends over this great divide; even families are split. That’s the existential threat I worry about.

It’s a long way to November, so Donald Trump has plenty of time to stir things up with needlessly provocative tweets that will push the two sides still further apart. Democrats will have plenty of time, too, to provoke the president and half the country that supports him. The “not guilty” verdict in the Senate impeachment trial ended nothing. The “fun” is just beginning. 

I try to stay upbeat but I just don’t see things getting any better — not if Donald Trump wins in November. And not if he loses, either.

Bernard Goldberg, an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist, is a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” He previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Patreon page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.