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27 Years After The Berlin Wall Came Down, America Has Voted To Rebuild It

16/11/2016 2:07 PM IST | Updated 17/11/2016 9:47 AM IST
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Mexican activists protest against US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in front of a specially made scenery wall during an AVAAZ-organized rally at the Angel of Independence Square in Mexico City on September 25, 2016. YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images.

Twenty-seven years ago, on 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall was demolished, signifying an end to the regressive policies of the Soviet Union. On the anniversary of this historic day, in 2016, America elected its most controversial president in modern history. Donald Trump will now govern a divided America, one that he helped create with his public narrative and manipulation of his supporters' existing insecurities.

America has laid the foundation of a new wall, not merely built on economic differences but, more importantly, on deep-rooted ideological differences.

The collapse of the Berlin Wall signified America's triumph in defending individual freedom, choice and liberty. It also signified the near end of the Cold War, the demise of which brought economic prosperity to many countries in the world and was instrumental in decreasing the global poverty rate. Those on the Eastern side of the Wall experienced a severe deficit of freedom of expression for 28 years and were suppressed economically and intellectually to prevent brain drain. America played an instrumental role in the development of West Germany through the Marshall Plan. With the fall of the wall, West and East Germany united, signalling the rise of freedom, inclusion, individual rights and economic prosperity.

Steve Eason
East Berliners climb onto the Berlin Wall to celebrate the effective end of the city's partition, 31st December 1989. (Photo by Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Now, 27 years later, America has laid the foundation of a new wall, not merely built on economic differences but, more importantly, on deep-rooted ideological differences. President-elect Trump plans to erect a physical brick and mortar wall along the Mexican border, symbolising an inward-facing nation. But the mere discussion of a wall has laid the foundation for a different type of wall, one that divides individuals based on their heritage, values and political affiliation. America, formed 240 years ago by immigrants from the Western European countries, finds itself on the Eastern side of this ideological wall with proposed repressive policies on abortion, immigration and trade.

Coincidentally, 9 November 2016 was a gloomy day, quite literally with the rain here in Washington, D.C. Although, we are in the 21st century, the election result confirmed that many of the Americans who voted are trapped in ideologies and principles that can be traced back to the early 19th century. The social and political gains surrounding civil rights, LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, religious freedom and gender parity over the last 100 years could be undone by the same country that was instrumental in leading this fight. We have sadly seen such a tendency through the votes cast during this presidential election.

If not addressed, this division could last for several generations, and perhaps much longer than the 28 years that the Berlin Wall stood strong.

People fear that this ideological wall, which was overlooked by and invisible to so many people, rose with Trump's narrative. This narrative has divided the country along lines based on social norms. However, the construction of this symbolic wall can be stopped through America's robust institutions and established system of checks and balances. Now Americans, who voted against the divisive forces, have the responsibility to unite the country and prevent the division, much like the Berlin Wall divided Germany.

America needs to ensure that its new President does not solidify an ideologically divided country. If not addressed, this division could last for several generations, and perhaps for much longer than the 28 years that the Berlin Wall stood strong.

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