A Fractured State of Our Union

Art Collage Hand Cut Sally Edelstein

Collage by Sally Edelstein ” Fractured State of the Union” hand-cut collage of appropriated vintage images 20″ x 24″

After the calamitous events of 2020 can we piece the country back together even as the state of our union is being torn to shreds? The perpetuation of myths, lies, and fears both old & new is ripping our nation apart even as we still struggle with COVID. We are a nation deeply fragmented in our beliefs and directions


collage vintage appropriated images Sally Edelstein

Detail Collage by Sally Edelstein ” Fractured State of the Union” hand-cut collage of appropriated vintage images 20″ x 24″

As reckless as ever, Donald Trump continues to disseminate disinformation creating chaos. He is helped by a greedy complicit media that itself has fractured and fragmented into more and more niche offerings so that they are each singing to the choir, and Americans can enjoy just exactly those viewpoints that reinforce their own.

Even after he lost the presidential election, Donald Trump kept his large base angry, agitated, and feeling cheated while he continued his rallies where the coronavirus was spread with the same carelessness as his lies.

collage art appropriated vintage images

Detail Collage by Sally Edelstein ” Fractured State of the Union” hand cut collage of appropriated vintage images 20″ x 24″

Emboldened, white supremacists are tearing at the fabric of democracy as entitled white Americans frightened by the browning of America, cling to misinformation as much as they cling to their Constitutional rights that they panic are coming under attack.  Living in their own bubble, angry that their once upon a time American dream is being snatched out from under them, they long for this mythical time that Trump keeps promising to return to back to when America was great.


collage art canvas Sally Edelstein

Detail Side view Collage by Sally Edelstein ” Fractured State of the Union” hand-cut collage of appropriated vintage images 20″ x 24″

The truth is we are an imperfect country. Racism and denial run deep in our history and we can’t whitewash it away. The cracks and fissures have always been there. America has never really been a democracy for WE the people, just a privileged majority with the rest living on the margins, but that potential for it to become that perfect union kept us with a sense of hope.  Did the last few years simply bring to life that we were never as close to that state of our union as we thought?

The insurrection of Jan 6, was no surprise. Trump had been sowing the seeds of discontent for two months and promoting division for 4 years.

The gross mismanagement of an epidemic by our president, the uncertainty, and the unbearable isolation it created further fragmented us, followed by the dispute and debates over the precaution needed to still guard against COVID. But for Trump, a simple lifesaving thing like wearing a mask would not have become so politicized, with countless feeling their Constitutional rights are being trampled on.

The greatest political division since the civil war,  is the culmination of our long troubled history, the outcome of the stories we tell ourselves, the myths we embrace, and lies we perpetuate.

Our democracy and Constitution are hanging by a shred.






  1. jmartin

    Your profound State of the Union essay is more than complemented by your masterful collage. Fabulous work. America faces tremendous challenges and the anger Trump has stoked and the lies he repeats compounds everything. And yet, as you have pointed out repeatedly, our social and economic divide predates his carnival presidency. Our problems run deep. But one thing for certain — and the essence of your amazing body of work — is that the mid-20th century American Dream was a facade that hid racism, disparity and injustice. Faced with this truth, we must gather our potential greatness and aspire as one to Make America Whole.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sally, the seeds of division actually started before the Trump era, but he has seized upon the division using fear to make it a chasm. I can trace much of this to two events – the creation of a pseudo news platform (and its look-a-likes) that catered its story and narrative to a conservative audience, saying main stream news was biased against them. The story mattered more than truth, which is a key reason I left the GOP to become an independent around 2007-08. There was a tendency to make things up, which far exceeded the Democrats efforts to do so. Now it is worse.

    The other thing gets less air time. Per Steve Schmidt, a GOP strategist, the Koch Brothers did a demographic projection in the late 1990s that showed the GOP better recruit more people or they would be in demise. He noted the other strategy would be to restrict the voting process and introduce some changes to make us less democratic. Per Schmidt, fear of whites being a plurality rather than a majority is concerning.

    These two events coupled with Trumpism has added fuel to racial tensions that had a lid on them for awhile. It also explains the affinity Trump has for autocratic leaders. These events have tapped into deep seated fears in some which continue to be stoked with we/ they wedge issues. Keith


  3. I had hoped the anxiety I felt during the Trump administration would end with his time as president. How naive of me! I feel more anxiety with him still loose in America, spreading the Big Lie and instigating events like the January 6 insurrection. He is being deposed on Monday. Can I hope that this congenital liar can’t answer questions honestly and ends up trapping himself while under oath?!


    • Like you, I sighed in relief when Biden won ( and yes he did) and thought those anxious stress-filled days would be behind us. It truly does feel more chaotic and worrisome now with Trump free and unfettered to say whatever the hell pops into his addled mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think we all fooled ourselves when we believed that “things would go back to normal,” when Trump exited the White House. Trump was merely the lightning rod that drew together those who dwell in hatred and divisiveness. The real problem is that 45% of the electorate still believes that the election was stolen. Until the Big Lie is put to rest and people regard facts as more credible than fantasy, our problems have no hope of being solved. Trump or no Trump.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are absolutely correct. We deluded ourselves that things would return to normal with the exiting of Trump. He opened a Pandora’s box that is likely not going to be closed anytime soon.


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