Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

The Need for Common Ground

Posted by Adam Graham on December 30, 2004

The Need for Common Ground

It is often said there’s nothing more American than dissent. The right of dissent is fundamental to our society. Protesting, marching, writing letters, speaking out are all part American politics. However, for any political debate to be worthwhile there must be some common framework. We’ve gotten to the point in our politics that one side of the aisle is speaking German and the other Chinese.

We’re a nation with two constitutions, two cultures, and two histories. Thus, the understanding of who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going has never been more different

Red Constitution, Blue Constitution:

To the right, the Constitution is a simple, ingenuous document. In general, it dictates that most government decisions should be at the state and local level.

To the left, the Constitution is a wondrous mystery, a living breathing document that produce have new rights or classifications of rights anytime someone is imaginative to find them. The Constitution is written to make society more accommodating and to grant rights to those who are oppressed.

The right pictures the Constitution as a neutral arbiter, allowing us to be governed by those closest to us. The left pictures it as an overbearing advocate forcing us to recognize the rights of all citizens to do whatever they want.

Red History, Blue History:

According to the right, America was founded by a group of decent, God-fearing men who wanted to set up a limited government where the individual’s rights and liberties would be guaranteed. The Founding Fathers were men of faith and courage who left us a legacy in a constitution that secured our liberties.

The history of America is awesome. It’s a story of a land that opened the doors of opportunity to poor immigrants who wanted to work and make something of themselves. America is replete with military heroes who bravely fought for what they believed to be right. In the Civil War, men of courage fought on both sides for the cause of freedom. World War II saw the best America had to offer while Vietnam became a quagmire because the politicians wouldn’t let the soldiers win the war.

The hope of America is recapturing that spirit of faith and courage, finding our way morally, and getting back to the ideals which made us a great country. America has had some awful failures in its past, but through all of its inventions, its efforts on behalf of human rights and dignity, America has been one of God’s greatest blessings to the world.

According to the left, America was founded by a group of amoral deists who were the hippies of their day (after all the men wore ponytails). Alternatively, they were evil slave owners which is another reason to view the Constitution as a living document. Who cares what a bunch of dead white, slaveholders though?

The history of America is shameful. We oppressed blacks, and spread disease among the Indians. Americans exploited the work of immigrants and built corporate empires on the backs of the poor and the world was a miserable place until the savior came. By the savior, of course, I refer to FDR who rode into Washington, DC on a donkey and fed the 30 million.

Our wars were entirely unjust acts of imperialism (with the exception of World War II). The Confederate Army was entirely racist and there was no one who served in the Confederate Army who is worthy of any memorial. Vietnam was a horrid war of aggression waged against the idyllic North Vietnamese and the peaceful Soviets.

America’s great hope lies not in lessons learned in the 18th Century, but rather in renewing the spirit of the ‘60s. It requires that we have a government that is large enough and compassionate enough to care for all of us. It requires that America no longer consider itself the center of the universe, but recognize it is part of a global community. Through its nationalism, jingoistic pride, and pollution, America has been a blight upon the Earth.

Red Rights, Blue Rights

Conservatives believe that our rights do not come from the hand of government, but rather from the Creator. In most cases, rights should be limited as there are very few things which people are by natural law entitled.

The first Amendment was intended to protect our rights to political speech and the ability to bring our views into the public square. Religious freedom is intended to guarantee that the State doesn’t interfere in religious affairs or bar anyone from expressing their religious faith. The second Amendment gives us a right to have guns to protect our families.

Liberals believe that our rights come from the state and ideally they should be expansive. We should have the right to Health Care, vacation time, and a safety net to catch us if we fall on hard times. Government must continue to grant new rights as new groups of citizens demand recognition.

The first Amendment was intended to protect unpopular speech such as pornography or MTV (I repeat myself). It means that as an American you have a right to buy a dirty novel without fear of repercussion. The first Amendment does not mean that you have a right to unlimited political free speech. Citizens running advertisements expressing their views of political candidates were corrupting our politicians and threatening our democracy until government stepped in and did the right thing.

The first Amendment means that in no public place should you be required to listen to someone of another faith praying. It means a total separation of religion from government. Religious political leaders must leave their faith at the door and make their decisions using only secular reasoning and logic. The second Amendment was intended to allow people to keep guns so that they could form a militia and as we have the National Guard, the second amendment is redundant. Guns are dangerous and if they must be possessed, it should be only under strict guidelines and controls.

Conclusion

In 1858, Lincoln quoted Christ in observing that “a house divided against itself shall not stand”. More than a century later, we find that we are once again divided, but in a far more serious way.

As we move into the next Presidential campaign, politicians will talk about bringing America together. This is hollow rhetoric as no politician can bridge the gap that divides us. If America were divided over personalities or even a single political issue it’d be much easier to resolve. As it is, only God can save us from another Civil War.

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