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A Nation Divided Is What We Need
by Peter & Helen Evans

28 September 2003US Flag

We've been hearing many of the Democratic presidential candidates lamenting that we are now "a nation divided."  But even at the best of times this nation is a citizenry of debaters and opinion leaders.

We've been hearing many of the Democratic presidential candidates lamenting that we are now "a nation divided." This is news?  Well, yes and no.  If that isn't enough, they tell the public that we are now "a world divided."  Somehow, they imply, they are going to unite everyone. But the world and the nation were never united under the Clinton Administration.  The Left-media simply didn't report both sides of the divide.

Even at the best of times this nation is a citizenry of debaters and opinion leaders.  We have a party system in politics just so opposing viewpoints can be aired, debated and voted on.  So when were we united?

Let's go back to the Founding.  We were united in a struggle for freedom against a distant tyrant and united in the adoption and ratification of a plan for self-government.  It was called the Declaration of Independence.  It laid out some very, very basic premises or goals.  Government was instituted, by the people, to protect the inalienable rights of the people. Those rights included life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Thirteen years later, after characteristically vigorous debate, the Constitution was ratified to stake out the strict limits of a government designed for a sovereign people.  Emerging at last from the chamber and asked "what have we got?," Benjamin Franklin gave the portentous reply, "A republic, Madam...  if you can keep it."

Even during those times and, certainly, since then, we have been divided regarding how the basic plan should be implemented, but we've strayed from the plan in a dramatic way only a few times in our history.  One of the most recent times was in the 1960's.  Some claim it was the corrosive influence of the undeclared war in Vietnam, but we think it was revealed more clearly by desegregation.  Just as it is with human nature, when the pendulum begins to swing, unless checked, it swings all the way.  Starting with a good thing, which was accepting the Black race with all the rights and privileges of full citizenship, the nation didn't stop there.  From legally abolishing racial "discrimination," we began, as a society, to practice "in-discrimination."  We began to tolerate everything.  Morals declined.  Crime, violence and illegitimacy soared. The idea that people should be responsible for themselves was thrown out the window.  Ironically, Government, the reviled "Establishment," was now supposed to "give" people jobs, housing and education and, once all these basics were met, to provide a solution to ennui.  We were no longer to find the meaning in our life through our own pursuit of happiness; some institution was supposed to package, advertise and sell (or give) it to us.  Remember that phrase, "bored to death in Scarsdale?"

So let's look at the bigger picture.  Back in the Sixties, a righteous idea divided the nation.  We needed the creative tension engendered by that division to bring the nation's attention to focus on the problem.  Much struggle and debate ensued, but something good came of it: desegregation.  However, part of that movement was commandeered by the Left and continued on to gobble up everything in its path with 'tolerance' and 'egalitarianism' and the radically unsuccessful "War on Poverty."  The inevitable trend of this movement is to change the basic plan for this nation.  Instead of a government which protects the rights of a self-governing people, it's becoming a State that wants to measure out and "give" rights to a subject people. 

The divide has been declared and it wasn't the Right that declared it.  However, we will recognize it and defend the original plan, be it against terrorists who want to destroy this nation from without, or against those of the New Class who want to destroy this nation from within with their 'new' plan. 

It's time the American people realize we need to take a stand on the slippery slope leading to State control of our freedoms.  We are individuals and it is the human condition that we are sometimes divided, even within ourselves.  And it's not a bad thing, if we use that creative tension to spur us into principled action, rather than allow it to scare us into apathetic submission.  The time has come when we must decide.  Let us decide that we're going to keep this republic.

Peter & Helen Evans, international teachers and authors, write articles and teach a philosophical approach to conservatism. Their website is http://peterandhelenevans.com.

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