The One Thing That Unites Americans

By Graham Glover

After listening to the last two weeks of political rhetoric, one might conclude that we are a divided nation. And that conclusion would be more than accurate.

Our nation is divided. Deeply divided.

The ideas, images, platforms, and personalities that the Republicans and Democrats offered in Cleveland and Philadelphia are as fundamentally different as any as I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. I didn’t live through the upheavals of the 1960s, but I think we are even more politically divided today. I’d argue that Americans have not been this divided since the Civil War.

On the one hand we have the Donald, who claims that he and he alone can make America great again. On the other is Hillary, the supposed agent of change, to what, I’m still not sure, even though she’s been running for this office for the past 10 years. The narratives about the state of our nation that these two candidates offer could not be any more different. One thinks literally nothing is good in America, the other seems incessantly blind to the sufferings that millions of Americans continue to endure.

Americans just aren’t Red or Blue anymore, those characterizations would be too kind. We are either fully committed to the bombastic cult of personality of Trump or fully With Her (to say nothing of those that are equally committed to and fully behind the candidate that opposes the other).

We’re still 97 days from the election and I’ve never seen such hatred and anger among the candidates, campaigns, or supporters. And it’s only going to get worse. Much worse.

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So yeah, America is divided. We’re deeply divided.

But despite our division, despite our differences, I still think that at our core, Americans remain united. What unites us? Only one thing: the idea of America.

We obviously have fundamentally different visions of what this America should look like, what ills her, and what we should do to continue her preeminent place in the world. But Americans love America. We like what America is and represents – an imperfect Republic to be sure, but the best one history has ever known.

Perhaps this is why this campaign has been so divisive – Americans think that we are fighting for the very heart and soul of who we are. I know we hear every 4 years that “this is the most important election in our lifetime.”  But maybe this year that refrain actually means something. Maybe our nation truly is at a crossroads, with two diametrically different paths for us choose between.

Yet still, no matter how bad it is (or we think it is), who we support (or will never support), or what we will hear these candidates espouse over the next 3 months, Americans of all varieties continue to unite around America.

Red, Blue, Trumpite, or Hillaryite, we continue to look at our nation as a “shinning city on a hill”. We all still believe in a place called “hope”. Despite our differences, our nation remains filled with “a thousand points of light” and when confronted with hardship our people continue to proclaim: “Yes, we can”!

I know we are divided people, but I also know that this nation is the best thing going. Like you, I believe in America, and if anything can continue to unite us a people and a nation it is just that – our commitment to and faith in an idea born over 240 years ago – an idea that is called the United States of America.

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16 thoughts on “The One Thing That Unites Americans

  1. That’s hard stuff. I guess you’re right, but I don’t really like it. I remember seeing a sign campaign some years ago for the Marines saying something like what you said – dedication to an idea, or a principle, or whatever it was. I’m not sure I didn’t break some of those signs in frustration. Marines don’t really think that way. An idea isn’t much to dedicate oneself to. I’d much rather be dedicated to people – certainly to Jesus – but to people and their needs. Doesn’t our country do that typically, more than any other? It’s a good place we live in, but some people don’t think that’s so. It’s upsetting. Got me thinking again, Graham.

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  2. The idea of America was individual liberty, personal responsibility, hard work, and dedication, values that have been eroded for far too long. Neither of the major two candidates espouse any of these values, or do so only as lip service and their actions betray their speech. You say that they are going down two diametrically different paths; perhaps, but the destination is, sadly, the same. The other candidates (of which I am aware) espouse those values, or some of them, to some extent, but even their ideals and policies would continue the erosion or keep things where they are.

    So, while some may say this is the most important election in our lifetime, I’m beginning to form the opinion that that time has come and past.

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    1. I’ve been checking out the Constitution Party lately. I think I’m pretty much on board. They’re essentially libertarian, but they are consistently pro-life. Small federal government. More states rights. Less international intervention. Restoring the powers of congress. If you believe in the ideals of America, the Constitution Party seems like a great option. Hillary and Trump are both power-hungry egomaniacs. Trump is bombastic and doesn’t even attempt to hide it. Hillary is still operating under pre-Trump political proprieties, so she tries to hide it, though not very convincingly. Both of them are bad news for America. They’re only out for number one.

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      1. Ken, I can respect that and to be honest, wish we could blow up the 2-party system and find room for a multi-party system. I’m most assuredly not libertarian, but sympathize with you on the life issue and restoring the powers of Congress.

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    2. Geoff, the question of liberty is an interesting one. Is it liberty from or liberty to? I’m not sure I buy the personal responsibility value. Sure hard work and dedication are part of our Liberal (Big “L) DNA, but the question of who is responsible, I think, has always been a little fluid.

      You also might be right on whether or not this is the most important election. If Trump wins, I think politics as we have come to know it over the past 80 years will forever change. If Hillary wins (which I think she does), we will likely see much of the same, both in terms of politics and the cultural trajectory of our relativistic embrace.

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      1. Both, I would say; liberty from (as in freedom from) an oppressive (and distant) government which would also then encompass a liberty to live your life as you see fit (within certain moral bounds that require that you respect the rights and liberties of your neighbors, i.e., you can’t kill someone simply because they upset you). Personal responsibility acknowledges that to make it, you had to do it yourself; a corollary to rugged individualism. If you succeeded, it was your doing; if you failed, it was your fault. One owned up to their own work, and acknowledged those who helped you, if anyone did.

        What I see with Trump and Clinton are two figureheads ready to continue the road we’ve been down for years. It’s not like Republicans and Democrats are vastly different, and in many ways they are the same (see Trump suggesting bailouts and stimuli similar to what Obama has done, and while Republicans criticized Obama for it, Trump is being praised for the idea by the same people). It goes both ways, a policy is meet, right, and salutary if and only if the policy holder’s name has the right letter behind it, and if their rival holds to the same policy ideals, they are wrong because they have the wrong letter behind their name. What it basically boils down to in this iteration of the two-party system is whether or not my strong man is in power (in either or both the executive and legislative branches), and these strong men do little more than curtail the liberties upon which this country was founded and from which she derives her greatness.

        If Trump or Hillary wins (either of them the most likely outcome), I just wish there were a Galt’s Gulch to which to escape.

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  3. Graham, Thanks for helping to identify the silver lining in this worse than average campaign season. While I try to remain optimistic about the best nation on the planet I have to admit that I am starting to despair over the thought of Hillary appointing out next several Supreme Court Justices. While anyone that knows me knows that I am a conservative, but I have never feared a Democrat as POTUS. If elected Hillary can Change the face of this nations constitutional law by appointing those that will simply re-interpret what is says. Call me a simpleton but a read the US Constitution like I read the Bible. Both are written in simple language that doesn’t need further interpretation from Lawyers and Theologians. God help us.

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    1. While a traditionalist like yourself with respect to the Constitution, I still think it is good to have lawyers (and theologians) help us interpret and understand the Law (and the Holy Scriptures). You raise a very important point with respect to electing Hillary. The Court is very important. Is it important enough to vote for Trump…that is the question to be answered…

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      1. My intent was not to dismiss the importance of all lawyers and theologians, only the ones that bend the words to accommodate their own worldly desires. Too many great churches have been decimated by such men.

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  4. Well put. No matter who you support and how awful the other candidate seems, somebody will win and we’ll try to get it right again in 4 years. We’ve had great Presidents and awful ones, both had their share of detractors. We’ve never all agreed on a single candidate and we never will. But no matter who wins I’m going to wake up, get my kids to school, go to work and then come home and try and make sure my family is getting through whatever problems we have. If we all take care of our own households, watch out for our friends and neighbors, and help those less fortunate when we can then this country will be fine for a very long time.

    On a happier note, football season starts this month. Go Gators!

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  5. “My intent was not to dismiss the importance of all lawyers and theologians, only the ones that bend the words to accommodate their own worldly desires.”

    That quote is worthy of its own post!

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