KALAMAZOO, Mich. — After a message of unity from President Biden at Wednesday's inauguration, many are hoping for a new beginning while others many be nervous about what's to come.
While we've seen divisiveness throughout the country over the last couple of years, an associate professor of political science at Western Michigan University said it starts on a personal level, and you can make a bigger impact than the government ever could.
"I think it is important to rebuild personal relationships, people’s lives you were invested in that are now broken or wounded as a result of our political conflicts over the last several years," said Western Michigan University Associate Professor of Political Science Peter Wielhouwer.
In a country that has been very much divided, WMU Associate Professor of Political Science Peter Wielhouwer said it's time to move forward with a more united front.
"An opportunity," as we heard in President Biden's inaugural address.
"He set an optimistic tone, while at the same time balancing out the realism that there are still some quite sharp political divides and economic divides in the country," said Wielhouwer.
Wielhouwer said the problem wasn't created by President Trump or his administration alone, and we can't rely entirely on President Biden and Vice President Harris to fix it.
"It was a product of a long process of 30 or 40 years of increasing polarization of Democrats and Republicans especially in national- and state-level politics," said Wielhouwer.
Instead, he said to start on a personal level rebuilding broken relationships.
In addition, Wielhouwer said social institutions like churches and higher education can also help by providing more of a unified front, and then having that continue to the state and eventually federal government in some ways.
"We want to act like Americans, like we all have the same things at stake. We have the same ideas in terms of what problems need to be addressed and even how to address them to a certain extent, but I don’t think we need unanimity," said Wielhouwer.
Wielhouwer said research shows what happens at the elite level tends to trickle down to the grassroots level, so if we begin mending from there, we can work on a better beginning.