There is No “We” left in America

Alice Bonasio
4 min readNov 1, 2020

Whatever happens in the next few days, America will remain divided. The only question is whether luck will let the country avert total disaster.

“We the People of the United States…”

The famous preamble to the U.S. Constitution, which goes on to state that its objective is to “form a more perfect union,” holds the key to why it is no exaggeration to say this country is fundamentally broken.

Everywhere, the “we” has been replaced by “me” to the extent where the biggest insult you can hurl at a large tranche of the American population is to suggest they hold socialist views.

The COVID pandemic irrefutably exposed this reality. A country incapable of uniting in grief over the deaths of nearly a quarter of a million of its own citizens is no union at all, even an imperfect one. There is no “we.”

Polarization has become so pronounced as to supersede friendship and family ties. In my own family, there are those that will vote for Trump.

“That’s democracy, I suppose,” my grandmother wrote to me the other day.

I hate to disagree with my Nana, as she is incredibly wise and invariably the kindest and best person I know. But this isn’t actually democracy. The American experiment has failed. Its democratic institutions — already built on the shaky foundation of the electoral college system — have been so far corrupted by gerrymandering and systematic voter suppression as to enable an election which, were it occurring in any other nation, would prompt other countries to send in the observers.

There is violence brewing. Even in smaller, quiet, easy-going towns like Eugene, someone threw a brick at our office window a couple of days ago. The owners had already been planning to board the front up for the elections. Does that have the ring of a healthy democracy?

The key institutions that ensure and safeguard the democratic process — a free press, an independent judiciary, a robust education system — have all been undermined to the point where civil society hangs by a thread, even as both sides bury their heads in different brands of denial.

Better people than myself, such as my Nana, will still choose the forgiveness route, but I cannot accept support for…

Alice Bonasio

Technology writer for FastCo, Quartz, The Next Web, Ars Technica, Wired + more. Consultant specializing in VR #MixedReality and Strategic Communications