News of the indictment of former President Donald Trump once again spotlights the current state of our politics. The concern is that we’ve become so polarized that many now see our nation’s once revered institutions as mere tools of the parties.
The conversation — if we can call it that — taking place shows how we are constantly being pulled to either side by partisan forces who are just adding fuel to the polarization fire. And though we can acknowledge the skepticism or zealousness from either side, we must urge those engaging in this debate to identify and set aside their personal biases.
We ask our fellow Americans to not get drawn in by the conflict entrepreneurs on social media and on cable news shows. Instead, we hope citizens will resist the emotionally satisfying urge to join in the food fight. In that spirit, we also ask that our leaders curb their politically expedient temptation to get into the muck. More importantly, we staunchly condemn political violence and urge those who would use this as an opportunity to turn the fire into conflagration to stop and consider the cost of what would likely happen if violence were to break out. Lives lost, property and livelihoods destroyed, continual escalation. In that scenario, nobody wins. The country loses.
Whatever your opinions of Mr. Trump or of the charges he faces, we must let the legal process take its course so that we might learn if the charges against him are merited. Otherwise, we are drawing conclusions about the case based on political ideology, which is exactly the mindset the Founding Fathers wanted citizens to avoid. “Innocent because the other party is out to get my guy” is not a sound legal principle. “Innocent until proven guilty” is, and that is why our legal system is based on it. The system is not perfect but its track record throughout our history shows it to be reliable in maintaining the rule of law (rather than persons) in America. This is key to keeping our nation strong. We acknowledge that the optics of the situation gives rise to the claim that there is a double standard between Mr. Trump and other political leaders whose actions have been deemed questionable. But we implore folks to let the arguments of the prosecution and the defense unfold before finalizing an opinion about fair treatment, guilt or innocence.
Our role at Common Ground Committee (CGC) is to neither be final arbiters nor passive witnesses. We do our best to be a voice that narrows divides rather than widens them. Our call for common ground and civility may sound naive, but perhaps that is because an open mind — not a cynical one — is what this moment requires of us in order to rise above the fray rather than wade into it. Cooler heads must prevail and CGC’s mission is to remind our fellow Americans that finding common ground is a difficult but a worthwhile endeavor. It is at the heart of how our government was designed to work, and is the key to healing the “us vs. them” mindset that threatens to tear apart the social fabric of our country.