Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Battle for American Unity

There are many who cite quotations concerning “A Nation Divided” but I believe that Abraham Lincoln said it best, primarily because he understood the battle. His last sentence is the key to the question of National Unity.
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A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.
Lincoln's 'House-Divided' Speech in Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858.
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Today many of us are disillusioned with our own two-party system. We are angered at the failures of both the Democrats and the Republicans. And most of all, many of us are longing for national unity.
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Unity is vital to the strength and health of any nation but false unity, based on little more than gathering large numbers of the disillusioned, is bound to fail. When the core values of the large majority of Americans are in direct opposition, attempts at false unity can only do one thing and that is to ignore those core values altogether by concentrating on those issues where some consensus can be found. It might work for a while but eventually it fails.
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Let me make an analogy to religion. We’ve always been taught that mixing religion and politics is a dangerous pursuit, but one of the first things I learned in seminary was that religion and politics are never far apart.
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In the last century, many Christian churches began to focus on inclusiveness and Christian unity became the primary core value. Divisive moral issues were ignored or downplayed. Individual behaviors were never judged. Emphasis was always placed on God’s forgiving love rather than on individual accountability to God. Thousands of sermons were given about how Jesus loved and kept company with sinners. Few of those sermons ever pointed out that Jesus always gave these parting words to the repentant sinner, “Go and sin no more.” Eventually even the word “sin”, became replaced with more gentle words such as “failings.
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The irony of false Christian unity is plain to see. Those Christian churches that placed unity above everything , including adherence to Christian tradition and the Ten Commandments, have been losing membership for many years. Many old denominations are about to become extinct. Why?
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Well, it would seem that those individuals whose core Christian values were strong enough sought out churches that were not afraid to proclaim and to uphold those values. On the other hand, those who valued unity above all else felt no loyalty to a church that proclaimed little more than ill-defined non-judgmental sweetness and light. They became what is known as “cafeteria Christians” and their tastes were as shallow and as fickle as their faith.
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Please feel free to apply the above analogy to politics and political parties.
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Right Truth posted that Unity08, the online third party that wants to find bi-partisan candidates to support for the presidential ticket, “has launched a unique online study that allows you to rank the presidential candidates and the issues facing the country.”
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According to Unity08 (emphasis mine),
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The latest GWU Battleground Poll (from Lake Research and the Tarrance Group) tells us lots that we've heard before: 70% of the people think the country is on the wrong track; 57% disapprove of the job the Republican president is doing; 52% disapprove of the job the Democrats are doing in Congress
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But they went further. Asked which of these qualities is the most important in a Member of Congress, 32% said "strength of values and convictions" and twice as many, 64%, said "willingness to find practical workable solutions." 93% said Washington lawmakers put partisan politics ahead of the people, and an astonishing 71% say that of their very own Member of Congress.
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No wonder that a plurality of Americans felt that in the future their children will be "worse off" than they are right now. That is an amazing finding in a country where our optimism is supposed to be the hallmark
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What it says is that the people don't expect the politicians in either party to lead. That leaves it up to the people. Only the people can lead us out of this mess, starting now, starting here – literally, starting here, at Unity08.com. This is your site. This is your country. . .
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Now the pollsters themselves (Republican Brian Tringali of the Tarrance Group and Democrat Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners), provided the analysis of the results. I believe, however, that the analysis just might be a bit faulty or at best, spun. Perhaps Tringali and Lake are now part of the Unity 08 movement? Perhaps not, but one thing is for sure. This was a poll by and for bi-partisans.
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According to the Washington Post, in quoting from and discussing this bi-partisan Battleground Poll, America is a “Pessimism Nation.” Here’s an excerp.
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It's a warning to all the candidates that they have to straddle these two worlds: effectiveness and not being an insider, she (Lake) said. . .
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Really? I don’t buy it. The Unity08 folks would love nothing better than to pull off the voting strength from the two major parties. If 32% of those polled want "strength of values and convictions," they aren’t about to jump ship into a watery feel-good ill-defined third party pool. And those 64%, who seek a "willingness to find practical workable solutions,” may find that our nation’s diametrically opposed core values make those solutions difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.
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We are in a battle and yes it is a culture war. There are those who deny the war and there are those who want peace and unity at any price. But when 70% of the people polled think the country is on the wrong track, that’s cause for optimism because that means change will come! And change will come from those who hold together and are willing to stand their ground for America’s core values and principles.
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Continuing with the WP article . . .
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Tringali said he and Lake were equally struck by the pessimism they found about the future. A plurality (38 percent) believe their children will be worse off in the future and only a third said they "think their own children will be better off than they are right now -- a drop of 7 points since January."
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Tringali noted in his analysis of the findings that it would be "hard to overemphasize" what a sea change this represents in the attitudes of a country that long has prided itself on its optimism.
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More surprising is where the pessimism is most intense: among white Americans rather than African Americans or Latinos. Tringali said pluralities of African Americans and Latinos believe their children will be better off than they are. Only 29 percent of whites believe that will be the case; 38 percent believe their children will be worse off. . .
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So for all those disillusioned pessimists who feel that Unity is more important than any other value, Unity08 might just be their cup of tea. As for me, I’ll stand with those strong conservatives who are willing to fight the battle to defend our traditional American values .
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Remember Lincoln’s words because National unity comes with a steep price tag. Before we jump onto the Unity bandwagon, we must continue our battle to define, to preserve, and to defend our Nation’s core values, because eventually , “It will become all one thing or all the other”.
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4 comments:

  1. A very thought provoking article, and I think the analogy to churches is good. However, it seems to me that there must always be room for differing views even in churches that appear to express very clear Christian core values. The right to question and challenge should never be sacrificed.

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  2. You really dug into this one and did your research. I agree that the poll results are pretty interesting. But I've always thought poll questions could be slanted in a certain way, which would skew the results.

    People are upset with politicians because we can't believe a word they say. They say one thing to get into the primaries, then they switch to something else to actually get elected, then when elected it's anything goes.

    No wonder Americans are upset with the statue quo, it sucks. But compared to other countries it is wonderful here.

    There should not be one government sanctioned religion, but anyone who things a politician's religion doesn't affect his decisions and votes, is deluding themselves.

    That's why it matters who we elect, what their faith is, how faithful they are to that religion.

    That's another reason we must not allow any more Muslims into congress. We know what they believe.

    An excellent article and I thank you for digging into this.

    I did see Sam Waterson (? from Law and Order) pushing this on Fox one day, then I forgot all about it until I got that email earlier this week on the Unity08 poll.

    Good job.

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  3. Well said. I'm not sure Unity 08 is a viable answer, I'm not sure it isn't. But, I am sure that this coming election, us conservatives and neo-cons and any right thinking individual better get it to gether or we will be smothered.

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  4. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. In response to anonymous . . . Thank you for pointing out that there must be room for differing views and that we must safeguard the right to question and to challenge. But when it comes to elections we only get one chance to get it right, so we better understand our own core values and the values of those we want to elect. It isn't just the person, but the party as well. And we need to remember that our elected officials will always "dance with the one who brung them"!!!

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