11 November 2018

America Is Diverse, Not Divided

Consider this headline on Bloomberg: "Election Shows That U.S. Divisions Are Only Growing Wider -- Social discord, partisan rancor and government sclerosis are about to get worse."

Or this headline in The New Yorker: "America’s Fever Is Still Rising"

Consider also this map of "Red" and "Blue" states based on the recent mid-term election results:

Or this map of Congressional distict results:

Where in either map is there a modern-day equivalent of the Mason Dixon Line, which set the northern border of the pre-Civil war "slave" states and then the northern border of the short-lived Confederate States of America? Where is the divide?

How many of the fifty states are wholly "Red" or wholly "Blue"? Even presumably "deep blue" California and New York have noticeable swaths of Republican Red.

Contrary to the breathless hyperbolic headlines, what these maps illustrate is not division but diversity. Both Republicans and Democrats look to Washington DC for national leadership. Both Republicans and Democrats, in seeking power within the Federal government, evince an awareness of a truly united nation. Implicit in all the electioneering, the preening, the posturing, is the premise that these United States are still as we proclaim to be in our Pledge Of Allegiance, "...One Nation...Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all."

Republicans and Democrats do not agree on what constitutes "justice". Conservatives and progressives do not agree on what meaning we should have for "liberty."  Yet there is still much upon which Republicans and Democrats do agree, and we see this in the mid-term elections and the aftermath:
  • Republicans and Democrats agree that elections matter.
  • Republicans and Democrats agree that all votes are important.
  • Republicans and Democrats agree that electoral outcomes set the agenda, the direction, and the tone of each administration and session of Congress. 
  • By their politicking and even by their pandering, Republicans and Democrats alike acknowledge the eternal truth of Hamilton's assessment of American democracy: "Here, Sir, the people govern."
The legacy media--deservedly and derisively termed the "Fake News Media"--are championing a false vision of the United States. Through hyperbolic headlines such as mentioned above, through such blatant propaganda, they exacerbate disagreement into division. They have transformed worthy debates into "wedge issues" and then hammered relentlessly on those issues to produce the signs of division they so hypocritically bemoan today.

There are real issues and real disagreements among Americans. There are pressing issues for which our governments must devise solutions--our immigration system needs reform, our infrastructure needs repair--and there are real concerns about foreign policy, trade relations, healthcare, just to name a few. Americans do not see eye to eye on any of these issues.

Americans have never seen eye to eye on issues. Americans have disagreed and debated since the founding of the Republic. In virtually every decade since the Constitution was drafted in 1787, there has been passionate and partisan debate over contentious issues, ranging from the role of the Federal government to slavery to Manifest Destiny to the New Deal to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Americans disagreed over Operation Iraqi Freedom. Americans disagreed over TARP and the bank bailouts of 2008, giving rise to the Tea Party, and disagreed over Obamacare, resulting in the wave election of 2010.

Yet the Republic has endured. The government stands. We The People are still here.

That is something the Fake News Media and anyone else who would promote the propaganda of rampant rancor and petty partisanship would do well to remember. Despite their very best efforts, the Union is still standing.

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