America’s Greatest Challenge

By Philip Foglia

Gallup Polls indicate that most Americans believe that the economy, health care, immigration and race relations are vexing issues confronting the country. Add foreign wars and the environment and stress levels in America run high. These issues have been front and center for decades and there has been only incremental success. Only a united country can ultimately prevail over all these issues and there lies our greatest challenge. Unity doesn’t mean we agree on everything, it only means we understand our differences and react as men and women of good will united against those who seek to weaken us. It takes resolve to stand shoulder to shoulder with those whom we may disagree but success as Americans demands exactly that.

Our Foreign enemies understand that division and disunity will lead to an inability to deal with vital issues and a weakening of the greatest democracy the world has ever known. They seek to sow seeds of discord through social media and election interference. They create conspiracy theories and inflame people’s worst fears. We need to recognize demagoguery and those who seek to gain from it. Instead, Americans are falling into this quagmire of internal disarray that has the country in a cold civil war to the delight of our adversaries.

Understanding history might give us a blueprint for overcoming our current woes. How did 13 struggling dependent colonies rise up to defeat the mightiest world power in the 18th century? By becoming united states.

Being united does not mean that all citizens align on every issue or that differences of opinion won’t always exist. Indeed, James Madison, in Federalist 10 believed that “factions” ( described as “a number of citizens,…who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or interest adverse to the rights of other citizens…”) were inevitable, but their inherent destructive nature would be controlled by the size of our Republic and the checks and balances of our constitution. He also believed that the problem of factions could be overcome by virtuous leaders who possessed “wisdom … patriotism and love of justice.” It is human nature to have self-interest but to have a successful

American Republic enlightened leadership needs to curb the excesses of self-interest and ambition. Our governmental administration can stay unwavering by adhering to the wisdom embodied in our constitutionally created safeguards against overzealous narrowly focused leaders through the cleverly crafted checks and balances created by our founders. Our American democracy also counts on the good will and respectfulness of responsible citizenship.

Moreover, unity can only be attained once our elected officials come to the realization that they are not just representatives of the people who elected them. Appealing to one’s base is shorthand for a disregard of the rights of all citizens. Sadly, our country is currently divided into two cult- like camps not willing to cede any ground. Our elected officials engage in a destructive zero- sum game where compromise is capitulation and viable ideas are opposed simply because they originated from the opposing camp. Organizing around party orthodoxy is short sighted and dangerous to a Republic. The resulting division enfeebles our government and destabilizes democracy. Diversity of ideas, ideologies and methodologies strengthens the nation and fosters inclusiveness. Thomas Jefferson famously said in his Inaugural Address, “…this sacred principal, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect…” He continued We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.” Similarly, John Kennedy proclaimed “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” These men of vision understood that once an election is over statesmen and women need to shed party goals and bring the country together with a collective vision based on love of country rather than political affiliation.

Winston Churchill rallying his nation said, “when there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” Wisdom for the ages.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email