America Is More Than Political Differences -- We Must Preserve American Exceptionalism, Not Throw It Away

McKenna Duggan, of Onset, Mass., waves a pair of flags during the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Esplanade, Tuesday, July 4, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

On Tuesday, The Federalist published “It’s Time For The United States To Divorce Before Things Get Dangerous.” This proposal should, and must, be forcefully rejected. It is therefore prudent for another conservative outlet to provide a public dissent.

The Federalist writer Jesse Kelly argues today’s differences between Americans are irreconcilable:

The history of the world is nations breaking up and redrawing their borders. If we want to avoid this political divide turning into a deadly one, we should do likewise…

We are a nation hopelessly divided. We are more divided now than we have ever been in our history. And before you start screaming at me about the Civil War, keep in mind that bloody conflict was fought over one major issue.

Considering over 600,000 Americans died, it seems misguided to so quickly dismiss the Civil War. But even absent that specific conflict, American history has been marked by constant strife over political and ideological differences.

After the Civil War, racial tensions divided America to the point that black Americans were mistreated by both their fellow Americans and their government, through Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, “separate but equal” policies and segregation, and the civil rights movement and the assassination of its leaders.

Other differences, unrelated to civil rights, have also been so extreme that our government often engaged. For example, the Sedition Act of 1798 restricted political speech; Woodrow Wilson’s Department of Justice conducted the Palmer Raids on suspected radicals; Andrew Jackson forced 16,000 Native Americans onto the Trail of Tears; Franklin Roosevelt placed Americans of Japanese descent in internment camps; McCarthyism fed an environment of paranoia about other Americans; and the Ohio National Guard killed four college students protesting the Vietnam War.

Simply put, the sheer size, history, and multicultural background of the United States makes differences of opinion inevitable.

Unfortunately, the most extreme voices are often the most amplified, and social media further exaggerates and intensifies our differences while simultaneously feeding our confirmation biases. These differences are then boosted by our country’s enemies, who want to pit us against each other.

It is a mistake to fall into that trap or to believe the United States is not worth remaining united.

The United States Constitution and the government created by it are, collectively, the greatest democratic experiments in the history of mankind. That our country has survived for 242 years with only one civil war, and that we came together afterwards, is a remarkable testament to our country’s ability to endure and to unite.

The Right often argues that those on the Left do not always appreciate America’s uniqueness or exceptionalism. We should not join them in making that error.

America sets an example for the rest of the world — for what they should be and what they could be. America is a beacon for liberty; a shining city on a hill; and the embodiment of dreams, hopes, and aspirations.

And a separation would not be peaceful; it would be immensely difficult to divide a country of over 325 million people, across 3.8 million square miles, in a way that would satisfy its citizens.

There are conservatives and liberals in every state, just like every state contains both American history and American landmarks. We would be wholly unable to agree how to split the country up, and it would prove entirely destructive to all involved.

A split would be financially devastating. The United States is currently among the world’s strongest, wealthiest, and most stable countries. Such a split would not only leave individual bank accounts in ruins, it would be an extraordinary waste of money, it would throw world markets into chaos, and any newly created countries would be poorer than the United States is now.

Furthermore, our very existence makes the world safer and more stable. The dissolution of the United States would have a catastrophic global effect by destabilizing the entire world. It would create an enormous power vacuum that our enemies would certainly try to exploit, while other nations would likely fail in stopping them.

It is evident by the mere suggestion of dissolution that Americans are spoiled by stable government, in that we are able to take it for granted — a luxury that many around the world and throughout history were not lucky enough to enjoy. Rather than call for the dissolution of the United States, we should thank God every day that we are Americans.

The dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric must be toned down — from both sides.

For example, recently Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey approvingly shared a similar article, causing many on the Right to — justly — criticize him.

And it is true that some on the Left engage in utterly atrocious behavior while receiving passes from the media, like Senator Kamala Harris joking about killing the U.S. president, to little outrage.

The hypocrisy is infuriating. But it helps no one to stoop to such a level in retaliation.

To be fair, some have claimed the Federalist piece is simply satire, but the author has repeatedly said he is serious and advocated this idea, while other people are treating the article both seriously and approvingly.

Furthermore, The Federalist isn’t the only conservative organization promoting this idea. Townhall has published numerous pieces about American civil war.

But Republicans control a significant portion of our government, which shows just how unserious this proposal truly is.

The 2016 election gave Republicans control of both the executive and legislative branches, with the possibility of four Supreme Court nominations over the course of the presidency, as well as a majority of governor offices and state legislative chambers.

Yes, there are aspects of pop culture, the media, and academia that often mock Republicans. But the solution is not to shut ourselves off or divide our country up. There are some battles we cannot win — it will never be popular or fun to be the adult in the room who tells people that there is no such thing as “free” — but there are some we can win.

Republicans should fight. But we should fight smart. We should convince people by  showing why our ideas and principles are better.

To advocate anything else should not even be considered. We are Americans, every single one of us.

America has survived a civil war; assassinations of her presidents; resignations by her presidents; corrupt administrations; and wars that bitterly divided the country.

It has survived because America is more than a nation — it’s an idea that we cannot allow to die.

Neither America’s recent nor distant history is perfect or without shame, but we’ve been moving in a positive direction due to the core American values that guide us.

Abolitionists, suffragettes, civil rights leaders, feminists, and more have fought for the rights of other Americans. We have fought communism and socialism, defeated an “evil empire,” saved Europe (multiple times), and demanded walls be torn down. Our medical breakthroughs have saved an untold number of lives. We have charted new territory, first across the West and then in space, as the first humans on the moon. And when our fellow Americans are in need, we do what we can to help them.

The American spirit can be seen in all sorts of ways:

The hijackers failed, just as other attempts to destroy America have failed.

Because being American means so much more than one’s political beliefs.

Generations of men and women have died for our flag. Let’s not allow their deaths to have been in vain by destroying America from within.

https://twitter.com/NoahCRothman/status/983691170764161024

Get off Twitter. Talk to your neighbors. Engage with your communities. Remember that we are all Americans. As we should be. As we are blessed to be.

E pluribus unum.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.