Unity yes, homogenization no!

By Steve Farrell
web posted December 25, 2000

When President-elect George W. Bush entered his first official plea - that the people of our great nation - whether they be Democrats, Republicans, or Independents - ought to embrace Union first and party second - few of us, I hope, disagreed - for as the greatest teacher of us all once said, "a house divided shall fall."

It is true, or at least it should be true, that greater than our commitment to this political party or that, and this plan of action or that, should be our unshakable resolve to put America first, our common brotherhood first, and our common values first.

George W. Bush and Al Gore last weekGenerally, we all desire the same ends, Mr. Bush suggested, we only differ in the means we deem most correct to achieve those ends, he concluded. That was a brilliant stroke!

Certainly, there are more things that unite us then divide us. We are not Beirut, Bosnia, the Israeli West Bank or Kosovo - we are the United States. And when we in small ways mimic the division found elsewhere, isn't it true we, more often than not, choose to work together as Americans and mend the damaged cloth of our country, rather than further tear it apart? Generally, we do.

Washington, in his Farewell Address, taught:

"The Unity of Government, which constitutes [us] one people, is . . . dear to [us]. -- It is justly so; for it is a main Pillar in the Edifice of [our] real independence; the support of [our] tranquillity at home; [our] peace abroad; of [our] safety; of [our] prosperity in every shape; of that very Liberty, which [we] so highly prize."

Union was critical. This Washington knew. But, he warned, our enemies are equally aware of our need for unity, and so they will labor to undermine it at every turn. He said:

"Union [would be] the point in [our] political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively . . . directed . . ."

"[Thus, we] should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming [ourselves] to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of [our] political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our Country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts."

Could Washington have done a better job of identifying the troubles which confront us today?

Think about it. There is, as Washington foresaw, a fermenting class of self-serving, anti-American rabble-rousers out there here and now, who in the interest of undermining liberty, or of promoting the political careers of comrades within their own party, pursue strategies which pit one group of Americans against another. They employ the old and familiar divide and conquer strategy.

Washington detailed how this might work, even within "trusted" political parties: "[They] agitate the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindle the animosity of one part against another, foment occasionally riot and insurrection -- [and open] the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the Government itself through the channels of party passions."

Division then, is a dangerous game. One can understand George W. Bush's plea then for unity. It is inspired, in my belief.

Yet, such a call for unity beckons a great degree of care in just how such a unity is forged. On the one hand, Bush is right. Union must come first. On the other hand, let us hope that his inspired plea for unity never translates into a requirement to acquiesce with political philosophies which thrive on division.

Some party spirit, after all, is useful and necessary.

"Within certain limits," said Washington, "[it] is probably true . . . that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the Administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty."

I agree with Mr. Bush, conservatives and liberals should find a common end which unifies us, and that common end should be the preservation of our American Union under the Constitution, and the preservation of our common bond as brothers and sisters.

But beyond these, when it comes to the minutia on how we will achieve those ends, we should recognize that in a free society the points on the political spectrum are by nature wide apart, and we can do no better or no worse than to agree to disagree.

Steve Farrell is a freelance writer, a graduate of the University of New York, and a constitutional law student at George Wythe College. His column appears every Tuesday and Thursday in NewsMax.com. Missed a column? Visit Steve's archive.

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