There has been much said about the damage Obama is creating to free enterprise, business, national security, and foreign policy. But, the real risk is far greater and could be impossible to repair later. The Great American Experiment was an incredible balancing act by our Founding Fathers. The thirteen colonies had diverse economic, social and cultural characteristics, and getting them to agree to a single national government was an amazing accomplishment.
But, it involved compromises that strained the new republic at the seams, especially as regards slavery. The strain was so great, that it ended up with eleven states seceding from the union. It took a devastating war fought within its borders resulting in heavy military and civilian casualties to reunite the United States. Wars in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries solidified the reformed country by focusing on common external enemies.
Keeping the country together through World War II, Korea, and the subsequent Cold War was relatively easy. But, since the Vietnam War, the country has continued to drift politically. We are now defined as Red States and Blue States. This is more than a distinction driven by election results; there are fundamental differences in core values. Just travel from South Carolina, one of the reddest states, to California, one of the bluest, and you will see that differences that are so vast as to be irreconcilable on issues like abortion, gun control, health care reform, separation of church and state.
Keeping an increasingly diverse 50 states together is not an easy task, and one that is not fully appreciated for its difficulty. Staying in control is a difficult job for the political leadership. It is an art, not a science, nor is keeping the country unified a given.
In many ways, 9/11 was an opportunity for America to reunite once again against a common foe. But, as we approach the 10th anniversary of the most devastating attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, the drift has begun anew. George Bush, a moderate conservative president, was able to find common ground, as did Bill Clinton, and his father. Even the feckless Jimmy Carter avoided causing deep divisions despite a very left wing orientation.
Obama is different. He has not shied in the slightest from confrontation, despite campaign rhetoric that he would re-unite the country. This nation is more deeply divided than it has been since before the Civil War. It is so bad that the governor of the second largest state, Texas, has talked openly about secession. There are secessionist movements in several states and twelve state legislatures have passed legislation re-asserting State’s rights.
Even if a unifying event such as 9/11 occurs, there is no guarantee that the nation will unite under Obama. The left and right are not in agreement as to what an appropriate response would be, so whatever he would do would further alienate one side or the other. We seem to be in a downward spiral that is without a foreseeable bottom.
If Obama continues to divide and govern as irresponsibly as he has, pushing legislation that is unpopular and locking the GOP out of the process, the political divide will continue to widen. There is no good that can come of what may be Obama’s greatest threat, failing to keep the fabric of the nation from unraveling.