Written by Scott Chipman
“If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
This country has not been as divided as it is right now since the Civil War. A precursor to Lincoln’s presidency (and the civil war) was Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech given in Springfield Illinois in 1858. In that speech he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”
Unity within the U.S. is currently unattainable. Some would say we have never had unity and never will, so why seek it? There have always been different opinions and different preferred policies, but not that long ago there was much more agreement than disagreement. Almost all had the same basic ideals and goals in common with slightly differing opinions on how to achieve them. Now, it appears there are a significant number of citizens who regularly, actively, and occasionally violently oppose what were common ideals and goals.
National values, ideals, and principles are and were revealed in the founding documents and are imprinted on our currency. Our nation’s founders credited divine providence for arriving at these ideals and principles—and the documents that institutionalize them. The key principles include:
- E Pluribus Unum: Out of many one. During the founding, this was referring to the various colonies becoming one nation. Over the years as immigration dramatically increased, this value was expanded to also refer to our bold attempt to make one unified nation of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs. This country attracted and currently attracts immigrants to our founding principles. This value means that we don’t care about your national background or origin. Typically, immigrants coming to the U.S. assimilate faster than immigrants to European countries.
- Liberty: All human beings are born equal and all are equal under the law. This is not the same as all having equal outcomes. If you want people to end up equal, then you must deprive them of liberty. America allows its citizens the liberty to end up wherever their abilities, work, or providence may take them. In other words, unequal. To achieve “equality” you would need to restrict and regulate individuals into equal outcomes, or in other words, remove their liberty.
- In God We Trust: Unlike virtually every other nation, this country has had no state religion. However, America was founded on the principle that God is the source of moral values. “All People are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Rights come from God—not man nor government—so they cannot be taken away arbitrarily.
Today, a growing number are replacing E Pluribus Unum with racial, ethnic, or cultural identity politics and tribalism. Equality of result is replacing liberty as a key principle and that has fostered quotas, affirmative actions, and “entitlements.” God has been all but boxed up as the source for our morality and rights, being replaced by situational ethics and government codes as the source of our rights and responsibilities. Government restrictions related to the current pandemic are the latest red flag for how easily government can usurp our God-given and constitutional rights.
The Constitution, which enshrines our rights, is being viewed by more and more people as outdated, requiring regular modification and reinterpretation via the courts. The left’s new mission to “balance” the Supreme Court is an attempt to subvert originalist jurisprudence.
Some of the goals we previously held in common include:
- Public health and safety: This goal has been undermined by the ideas of legalizing drugs, defunding police, allowing riots, and the unlawful taking over of public spaces, knocking down statues, no bail policies, etc.
- National security: This goal has been undermined by proposing policies of open borders, sanctuary cities and states, legalizing drugs, and being weak on bad actor nations like China.
- National and personal prosperity: This goal is being undermined by Marxist and anti-capitalist philosophies, increasingly progressive tax structures, and over-regulation.
- Personal freedom: This once common goal is undermined by restricting speech, firing or doxing people for their political views, mislabeling speech as “hate” for political purposes, and even labeling silence as violence.
So, what can be done to grow unity within our country?
- Stop looking at our neighbors who vote differently than we do as the enemy. We need to engage (or re-engage) in civil discourse. Find out where we do agree. When I ask those I know who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum if they are okay with violence and riots, they all say “no.” Some say “no, but…” They don’t like the violence, but they understand the frustration of some of those who are committing it. We must agree that the rule of law must be above everything else. No violence is acceptable or an effective tool for social justice.
- We must defeat leftist policies and left-leaning candidates everywhere we can. We could achieve peace immediately by surrendering. That would only decrease our individual and national freedom and further undermine what has made this country the beacon of liberty it has always been. We must point out that some have been confused by leftist leadership and are opposing constitutional principles intentionally or inadvertently. They may be voting Democrat reflexively. Some philosophies, candidates, and propositions must be defeated and defeated soundly.
- We must link our positions to Constitutional and traditional American values and explain why our position on a policy, candidate, or initiative is rooted in our commitment to the Constitution, American values and our (once common) shared goals. We need to politely remind our political opposition that this country was founded on inspired principles and the world is relying on us to maintain those principles.
We may not always—or even often—sway the opposition our way, but we will be firmer in our own positions, have a better chance of moving them our direction, and we will have made an articulate argument.
Not since the Civil War have we had such an internal battle for the soul of this nation. In 1960, President Kennedy urged that us to “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” No one disputed that sentiment. Disunity is not a viable option. Those who oppose unity around our American values must be discouraged, turned, or defeated.