I think the words of moderate Republican, Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995), spoken in reference to the tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy, are a prescient warning: "I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the four horsemen of calumny — fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear." (1950)
Pondering these words, I'm compelled to remind myself that politicians, after all, are Americans too, no matter their ideological stripes. Is it not incumbent on them to set the highest example of what being an American actually means? How? By rising above the most entrenched partisan differences of the two major parties and proclaiming the beginnings of a Declaration of Interdependence. What splendor we might behold if we can embrace our diversity rather than nitpick each other to death, figuratively, and, God forbid, through violence that signals nothing good and noble.
Is it possible to reunite in a spirit of patience, good intentions and a long and hard look, both inward and outward?
Is it possible to reunite as a nation envisioned by our forefathers as a complex miracle of diverse humanity?
I think the margin for error is lessened when bipartisan efforts to communicate, decide and legislate are sincere and honest, despite differences. But the margin for error is increased when divisive partisan efforts not to communicate, not to decide and not to legislate are insincere and accentuate differences.
If partisan extremism is the sickly blue and red wave of our future, I will, hell no, not move to Canada or anywhere else. I will continue talking to and connecting with every human being as best I can, regardless of all the reality-challenged labels that spread through a maladaptive social media. Why? I yearn for us to move past and beyond labels and know in our hearts that we can, if we endeavor to, move once more toward, yes, a less than perfect union but still be a shining example of a great democracy. Americans could be living exemplars of an interdependent humanity for all the world to see, heed and strive to emulate.
We should feel a heightened commitment to this Declaration of Interdependence, especially in light of an accelerated and deadly resurgence of COVID, an ailing economy, rampant racism and a disturbing transition to a new presidential administration.
Thinking again of Chase Smith's warning, I don't want to hunker down and hide out of fear, nor do I want to raise my fist and fight.
Just remember, political civility has never meant total agreement or anything close to perfection. The founding fathers knew that centuries ago. We had better know that now, for the good of all.
Richard Joel Holmes