How Do You “Un-Divide” a Nation?

If America is badly divided today, then what once united it?

The Constitution. The Constitution is not just an abstraction. It’s a real, living commitment by the actual citizens of a country to a democratic form of government with an absolute commitment to individual rights. The most important rights are the top two in the Bill of Rights — the First and Second Amendments. It’s no accident they’re the top two. America’s founders understood that without these two, we’re all sunk.

Democracy is meaningless without individual rights. If we did not have a Bill of Rights, and uphold it, then mob rule would be the order of the day. America’s founders knew this, but millions of Americans today do not grasp it.

I know of no time in our nation’s history when satisfaction with an electoral outcome, as in 2016, called into question the entire system of government for a sizable portion of the population.

The only time I can think of where such division existed was during the years leading up to the Civil War.

The country was badly divided in the Vietnam War era of the 1960s and early 1970s. But the division consisted of one side who wanted to protect the Constitution and Bill of Rights by fighting and finishing the Vietnam War, and the other side who also cherished the Constitution and Bill of Rights and thought we should get the hell out of the war. Matters were complicated by the fact that the federal government drafted young men — literally enslaved them — to send them off to their deaths in a nation where our own government didn’t even care to try and win the war.

Today is different. It’s not about two sides who want the same thing fighting over how best to get there. It seems that mass numbers of American citizens don’t care about the Second Amendment, so long as they get their gun bans, and don’t even care about the First Amendment so long as they get to criminalize “hate speech”. They’ve lost sight of the fact that it was “hate speech” — that is, controversial, often unpopular speech — that the First Amendment was most importantly designed to protect!

It also seems that mass numbers of people — not necessarily a majority, but mass numbers — do not care what it takes to bring down Donald Trump. They want him taken down. Nobody disputes the electoral outcome of 2016. In fact, the more you start to investigate voter fraud, the more votes pop up for Trump throughout the country. Why do you think the recounts in Michigan and Wisconsin stopped so soon after the 2016 election, when the more they recounted the more Trump came out ahead?

The disturbing thing about today is that mass numbers of citizens seem to be saying, “Donald Trump is not my president. I don’t care if he won fair and square. I don’t like him. And I should not have to wait until the next presidential election to defeat him. I shouldn’t even have to wait until the midterms. Robert Mueller and others — take him down … now!

President Trump understates it all in his tweets. It’s a war on facts, truth and justice so beneath the legacy of America’s founders that one hardly knows what to say. It’s shocking and disturbing in the extreme. Even if they don’t succeed in taking down President Trump, the fact we’re living in a country where so many support this “get-what-I-want-at-any-cost” is frankly unsustainable, no matter who’s in office.

With Obama loyalist holdovers and even Republican anti-Trump forces throughout the federal government, not to mention a media 95 percent in bed with all things anti-Trump, Mueller and his phony investigations have proceeded (at taxpayer expense) unimpeded other than for President Trump’s tweets of dissension. The more Mueller uncovers, the more aware we become of how the prior Obama administration was the one colluding to generate an election outcome, not Trump and the Russians, something for which there is virtually no evidence.

It’s an awful time to be an American, despite the fact there is no great war, natural disaster or economic crisis. It’s awful because the country is so divided. It has gone to the grass roots where friends and members of the same community no longer wish each other the best. But it’s not a spirited debate. It’s not a debate among people who want the same things, in the end. Some of us want the First and Second Amendments stronger than ever. Some of us are willing to accept election outcomes even when we detest them — as those of us who now support President Trump managed to do for eight long years when Obama held office and waged daily war on the Constitution.

Some divisions are too deep to heal. Some differences are irreconcilable. When you want fundamentally different goals, and you’re going in fundamentally different directions, how are you supposed to wage a compromise? How are you supposed to compromise between freedom of speech for everyone, or freedom of speech only for those whom the Democrats and the media approve of? How are you supposed to compromise with people who say, “Look, it doesn’t really matter what Mueller finds out. Trump has to go. We know he’s not a real President. Let him go, and find someone else.” Do Republicans get to do that with Democratic candidates, particularly after they win?

It’s unsustainable.

Prove me wrong, America. I’d love to be wrong. I’m an optimist, at heart. Prove to me that in the end, deep down, we all want the same things: liberty, freedom and equal protection under the law for all of us. Prove we are grown-ups. Prove we can and will take responsibility for making a better case when we lose elections. Prove we want to respect each other’s individual rights under the law and the Constitution. Prove that free speech cannot and will not be tampered with, no matter how much we detest (and therefore tune out) the particular speech we’re hearing. Prove that in crucial ways, we’re all the same, and that even where we’re different, we can live under the same system of government.

The only way to “un-divide” a country is to discover, or rediscover, the most important things you have in common.


Follow Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest. Also follow Dr. Hurd on Twitter at @MichaelJHurd1, and see “Michael Hurd” on MeWe.