Independence Day: A Disengagement Holiday for Two Different Americas
Independence Day on July 4th has always symbolized national unity and faith in the bright future of the USA. However, the holiday of 2022 and the events that took place in the month preceding showed that the country has lack of unity. America is divided into two countries that are very different culturally, socially, and even geographically. Its inhabitants not only have nothing in common but also hate each other fiercely and perceive any event with an almost fanatical behavior. The very concepts of “good” and “evil” have become different for them. Hence the question arises if these two completely different Americas have a common future?
The first event that showed the gap between the “Democratic” and “Republican” United States was the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which occurred on May 24th, 2022. Consequently, 21 people died, including 19 children. This made the issue of free possession of firearms relevant again, which some considered the cause of the tragedy, while others believed that it was the “holy stone” of freedom and democracy. Conservative gun owners and their associates immediately began to suspect that either the shooting itself or at least its interpretation in the liberal media, was a provocation to take away their right to guns.
Whether this is true or not, they have been vehemently resisting restrictive initiatives throughout June and there has been a fierce fight over the passage of discriminatory gun laws. As a result, on June 25th, Joe Biden signed a law approved by Congress to tighten control over the circulation of firearms in the country. The law merely tightens screening of potential weapon buyers between the ages of 18 and 21 and encourages states to enact regulations to deny possession of handguns and rifles to individuals who could be a danger to the public. But the “Republicans” considered that this was only the beginning of a movement towards further discrimination. The “Democrats” considered the same but with joy and reliability.
On June 24th, one month after the Uvalde shooting and one day before the signing of the restrictive gun law, the “Republicans” struck back. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned constitutional guarantees for abortions without government restrictions. This decision was made following a 1973 revision of the Roe versus Wade case, which gave women the right to have an abortion without restrictions from the authorities. A statement by the US Supreme Court, where the vast majority are conservative judges, said that the US Constitution “does not grant the right to abortion and that the power to regulate abortions “is returned to the people and their elected representatives.” Democrats also expressed their outrage. The very next day, June 25th, thousands of protesters gathered against restrictions on abortion rights outside the US Supreme Court. Among the participants there were many youth representatives: students, representatives of various subcultural groups and LGBT communities.
Their appearance strongly contrasted with those frustrated people who had been expressing their dissatisfaction of gun owners at conferences and congresses during the whole past month – they were inhabitants of another planet. And these “aliens” for ordinary residents of North Dakota or Utah were full of anger and fury: at least 25 people in different cities were detained by the police that day. Similar actions were held in big cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Seattle. Large cities were firmly opposed to the traditional countryside.
While liberals were furious, Republicans were jubilant. Trump called the court’s decision “a victory of his life.” On the same day, Attorney General of the US state of Missouri, Eric Schmitt, announced the decision to ban abortion since the regulation of this issue has moved to the state level. The ban has already entered into force in several states and in the future abortion may be banned in a total of 17 US states including Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky. Among the supporters of free abortion are Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Illinois. The abortion law perfectly showed the geographic divide that may threaten America in the future.
Every month the split between “Democrats” and “Republicans” is growing in the US and this threatens with a civil conflict, which is no longer seems unrealistic. Indeed, approximately 30% of Americans believe that they may soon have to take up arms against the government of their country. This follows from the results of the survey conducted by the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. According to the survey results, this opinion is shared by 28% of Americans, including 37% of those who have weapons in their homes.
According to an article written by The Atlantic senior editor Ronald Brownstein, in the 2020s pressure on unity within the United States will continue to intensify due to growing divisions between “Republicans” and “Democrats.” The authors of the article write that “when we think about the United States, we make the essential error of imaging it as a single nation, a marbled mixture of Red and Blue people, but “in truth, we have never been one nation. We are more like a federal republic of two nations: Blue Nation and Red Nation. This is not a metaphor; it is a geographic and historical reality.” It doesn’t seem like mere words after studying the map of a possible ban on abortion.
Independence Day in 2022 was overshadowed by a bloody but symbolic event. As a result of a shooting in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago, 6 people were killed and 24 were hospitalized with injuries. There is a possibility that the number of victims may increase. Who is the shooter? Was it done by a left-wing radical who couldn’t stand the very sight of the American flag? Was it a far-right fanatic who wanted to strike at a system he hated? Or was it just a mentally ill sadist? The answer to this question is not that important. The flywheel of distrust and contradictions will only intensify leading to violence more often. There will be more appeals to limit the circulation of weapons and its supporters will look for a conspiracy against their freedom. Perhaps the holiday of July 4th will never become a day of patriotism and national unity. But one thing is certain – the United States will never be the same again.