Divided We Stand

Below is a comment I pulled from www.opposingviews.com re a political piece I wrote about Sarah Palin and the divide that exists in this country. The writer, Khannea Suntzu, makes an interesting point:

The teachers had a problem maintaining control over the school, so they divided half the playground into kids that had to wear red and half that had to wear blue. Nobody was allowed to wear any other color - and both sides were then urged on to pick on anyone wearing a different shirt. This trick has always worked, even in ancient Rome.

So that is where the US has come - voters played like a fool to reject anyone not of their political signature, so neither side gets what they want, and no new political color can enter the system.
Looking in from the outside, it is laughable. And you bet, we laugh over it a lot here in Europe. We are taking bets - and the consensus is drifting towards a civil war in the US within one generation.

The civil war concept may sound far-fetched, but Suntzu is correct in recognizing the partisan politics that plague America. While I wouldn't hold Europe up as a model -- I'll let modern liberals do that -- it's true America has never before been so divided. What many people do not realize, however, is the reason for it.

America used to be much more unified as a nation. Regardless of political party, most Americans subscribed to the same basic theory: "live and let live -- but with a few caveats." It wasn't until the caveats were thrown out, due to the 1960s liberation movement, that America began its descent. Once freedom became a matter of doing whatever a person wants and the personal responsibility aspect was obliterated, Americans divided up -- as the writer refers to in the playground comment -- into two distinctive groups: those who still believe in caveats, and those who don't. Today's liberals don't like caveats. Indeed, they have nothing in common with old-time liberals like Joe Lieberman. Old-time liberals still believe in caveats. Like today's conservatives, they believe in the moral order that helps govern the universe.

Russell Kirk explains conservatism this way: It is neither a religion nor ideology; "it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order ... The conservative is a person who endeavors to conserve the best in our traditions and our institutions, reconciling the best with necessary reforms from time to time."

You may not be someone who thinks of himself as conservative -- yet is. You may be under the impression that conservatives are inflexible and close-minded -- and this doesn't describe you. But this is a caricature modern liberals have created. It's modern liberals, who are becoming known more and more as "progressives" today, that don't subscribe to the philosophy above. But they are in the minority. Self-described liberals comprise only 21% of the American population, according to the most recent Rasmussen report. Surprised? It is this very small (albeit loud) group who believes that "conserving tradition" is stodgy, out of touch, a stick in the mud. But conservative-minded folks believe wholeheartedly in reconciling tradition with necessary reforms. They're not stuck in the past at all; they just don't believe in throwing out the baby with the bath water.

And so Mr. Suntzu is correct: Americans are at a stalemate. And until we learn once again to embrace a universal moral order, we will be stuck in this spot for a very long time.

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