- - Thursday, October 19, 2017


“United we stand, divided we fall” was a warning of the consequences of political fissures in the age of Lincoln, and it’s no less on point now. The United States is splitting in two along political lines, and the ominous trend could spell disaster one day soon enough. Unless Americans can set aside their differences and make common cause about something, the nation could fall into the widening gulf. America is the exceptional nation, but not a nation immune to all risks.

Differences between the two political parties are a natural function of opposing governing philosophies, but the present anger and rage is something new. A wide-ranging survey of political values, conducted by the Pew Research Center, finds partisan disunity is the most severe since Pew began polling nearly a quarter of a century ago.

Presented with statements identifying the dominant role of government, and attitudes toward race and immigration, members of the Grand Old Party demonstrate doubts that have slowly mounted over the passage of time until the present day, when Democrats embrace the expansion of government with growing enthusiasm. Asked whether the bureaucracy should do more to help the needy, Republicans agreement declined from 38 percent to 24 percent. Democratic endorsement grew from 58 percent to 71 percent.

Republican agreement that racial discrimination is the primary reason blacks can’t get ahead fell from 26 percent to 14 percent, and Democratic concurrence rose from 39 to 64 percent. Republican agreement that immigration strengthens the nation rose from 30 percent to 42 percent, and Democratic increased from 32 percent to 84 percent.

Pew concludes that “the bottom line is this: Across 10 measures that Pew Research Center has tracked on the same surveys since 1994, the average partisan gap has increased from 15 percentage points to 36 points.”

The most visible evidence of fracturing America is the ripping down of monuments of the noble Robert E. Lee and other statues, the vandalizing of marble and bronze honoring Christopher Columbus and the nation’s Founders, the sneers at the flag and the national anthem by overpaid athletes looking for something to protest. It’s disturbing but not surprising in the wake of the Democratic inability to come to terms with the results of the 2016 presidential election. The election interrupted what was meant to be a march toward a more perfect socialist union.

Most Americans readily concede that the nation, like the people of it, is flawed, but they revere their inheritance nonetheless. It’s the point that Vice President Mike Pence made when he walked out of an NFL game in Indianapolis when several players knelt in protest during the pre-game flag and anthem presentation. Mr. Pence later tweeted: “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”

No one should expect either the Democratic ass or the Republican elephant to transport them to a world of ideal justice and perfect peace. When the political conversation pushes toward ragged extremes where there is no reverence for the nation’s flag or its patriots, there seems little prospect that there’s enough good will left to hold a people together. Divided, we assuredly will fall.

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