I’m sure I’ve ranted about this already in the past, but it happened again last week.  I think it must’ve been the impeachment hearings.  A Republican dimwit said something like “The American people wanted Donald Trump to be President…the American people don’t want impeachment…”

No, you dolt, not the American people.  It was SOME American people that wanted Trump to be President.  SOME Americans don’t like the idea of impeachment…other Americans are fervently hoping and wishing for it.

To be fair, this happens on the left too.  I will frequently hear optimistic commentary claiming that the American working class supports progressive policies–and I so, so wish that were true.  But many in the working class are against ideas like single payer healthcare and increased taxation on the wealthy, even though this essentially means they’re going against their own interests.  Saying that the American people support Bernie is just as unrealistic as saying that the American people support Trump.

The point is, the phrase “The American people want x” is useless, because there is no such thing as a united American people at the moment.  No matter which side you’re coming from, about half the country will oppose you.  And not just oppose you in a reasonable, thoughtful kind of way–but more like oppose you in a hair-on-fire, I-want-you-to-die kind of way.  Right now, slightly more than half the country hates Trump. (I’m part of that half, and I do think there are good reasons to dislike him.) If a Dem gets elected President (which I really, really hope happens, and have already started working for), slightly less than half the country will be actively rooting against them, and hoping for them to fail.  I don’t know what kind of saint could perform the miracle of making that division go away.  Jesus would get crucified all over again for being a socialist, so it wouldn’t be Him.

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand why that phrasing gets used so much.  Politicians want to create the impression that all or the vast majority of Americans support whatever idea they’re trying to promote.  And since when do politicians care if what they’re saying is actually true?  There are also non-politician citizens who badly want to believe that it’s only a small crazy fringe which disagrees with them…after all, their views just make so much sense, right?  But it’s extra disingenuous to be saying this at such an extremely polarized time in our history.

I know it doesn’t sound nearly as impressive to say “Well, about half the people are behind me on this…and large sections of the country don’t like what I’m doing.”  And it could be deadly to one’s political career.  So, we will have to continue to put up with political leaders speaking for “the American people” in their entirety, even though all of us who are in touch with reality know this to be a lie.  We are not one American people, and will not be for a long time.

At least, not until the next time somebody attacks us.  Because nothing binds a people together and puts an end to internal strife like finding a common enemy.  So, on that fine day when we find someone we can hate more than we hate each other, we will be able to once again say “The American people are completely in favor of destroying…”