By Dan Weaver

The great political divide between left and right in our country is not something new. It has been here for a long time. The presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump have only exacerbated it. The growing divide has entered our national pastimes. Tim Tebow bends his knee to pray during professional football games, and the left makes fun of him. Colin Kaepernick bends his knee in protest, and the right says he is unpatriotic.

On the local level the deep rift between left and right was seen in the recent column by president of FMCC, Dustin Swanger, “White supremacy and the college campus,” and Sean Dufresne’s response in a letter to the editor, “Hypocrisy on the left.”

Just so you know where I am coming from, I have never belonged to a political party. I support both Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick because I believe that I have to defend your freedom of speech in order to protect my own. I did not vote for either Trump or Clinton in the last election. I did not think Trump was fit to be president. Clinton, on the other hand, put the nail in her own coffin when she called conservatives who supported Trump “deplorables.”

I have been thinking about the term “deplorables” lately. This country could not survive without them. Every time, I need a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter, a mechanic or someone to pump out the septic, I have to hire a “deplorable.” A “deplorable” just installed our heat pump. Another one is constructing a front entrance to our house. He has had a key to our house for years. We often disagree on politics, but he is honest, fair and does good work. If I were to wait for a liberal to fix my clogged toilet, I would be doing what the bears do in the woods for many years before I could get it fixed.

I listen to enough talk radio to know that conservatives can be very nasty people. Since Donald Trump became president, however, I have discovered just how nasty liberals can be. There are things my liberal friends have said about President Trump and conservatives that I could never print in this column. What is becoming clearer and clearer to me is that conservatives are not the only ones who have taken out patents on hate and intolerance. That may explain why there was something in Sean Dufresne’s letter to the editor that resonated with me.

Dufresne pointed out the left is hypocritical where tolerance is concerned, and I have to agree with him. Being a hypocrite by itself does not, of course, invalidate a person’s ideas. Tolerance of other people who are different is not invalidated by the intolerance of liberals. Nevertheless, the intolerance of liberals does need to be pointed out so they can see that they help create an atmosphere of hatred that is no more defensible than that created by intolerant conservatives. If you hate those who hate, you too are a hater.

If there is a movement out there that, in the words of President Swanger, wants “to create a white, male dominated, heterosexual, Christian country,” then there also appears to be a growing movement that wants to deny the legitimacy of people with traditional values. There is a movement, small but fanatical, that would be happy to see America free of deplorables, people who believe in traditional values and people who believe in God, particularly evangelicals and traditional Catholics.

One only has to look at the recent Senate hearings concerning Amy Coney Barrett, whom President Trump has nominated for a seat on the 7th Court of Appeals to see liberal antipathy towards conservatives. Several senators, including Al Franken, Dick Durbin and Diane Feinstein, attacked Barrett on the basis of her Roman Catholic faith. These are the same people who got upset when Ben Carson said a Muslim should never be president of the United States.

The presidency of Donald Trump has brought hatred by the right and the left out of the closet, although the media has focused primarily on the hatred of the right. Conservatives and liberals in America increasingly live in two separate worlds. Both sides have descended into name calling—racist, sexist, fascist, snowflake, traitor, communist—words that have little or no meaning. Until both sides change their rhetoric, come out of their bunkers and talk to one another, the gap between both worlds will only widen with dire consequences for our country.

Dan Weaver lives in the Town of Florida and operates a business in downtown Amsterdam.