As a group, Americans have always strived for a sense of self, but the only real unification we’ve ever had is in our national desire to be free from England’s rule. Our greatest loss of life was not in fighting terrorists, Nazis or even the British for our independence – it was in fighting ourselves. And today, unable to unite behind a common cause or establish a common identity, we’re in worse shape than ever and in a position to take the rest of the world into the gutter along with us.
Fellow Americans, the state of our union is embarrassing.
Republicans in the heart of the nation cry that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Democrats in our cities protest the bombing of civilians in Iraq. And all together, we continue to bicker, cajole and fight rather than take a long look at the things that are making us so divided and unhappy.
Our dependence on foreign oil means that we are actually freely handing over our hard-earned money – the money we’re so reluctant to pay in taxes – to the very nations that spawned and continue to house the terrorists who would destroy our grandest buildings and attack our spirits. We unite behind a flag that none of us would die to protect and defend, and we continue to sanction the deaths of children an ocean away while claiming to care so much about our own.
Americans are hypocrites in the grandest of senses.
Amid calls from our candidates to unite, we are in fact as united as we have ever been: united in our greed, united in our laziness. We are too greedy to affect lasting change and too lazy to make the effort. Rather than strive for independence from foreign oil, we build and buy bigger automobiles. Rather than try to step across the greatest partisan divide since the Civil War that shredded our country 150 years ago, we take cheap shots and wear T-shirts with cheap slogans.
Ask any urban dweller why Bush won this election: The heartland is conservative, uneducated and wants to be lied to. Ask in the heartland why the cities voted for Kerry: The urban areas are full of crime, the elitist and rich and where those gays and minorities live. But even if all these things are true, even if America is really as polarized as CNN and its electoral map would have us believe, the question is not how or why or even if we are split.
The question is what are we prepared to do about it.
The president has made a speech calling for the healing of our nation, and the bridging of the partisan divide. If he hopes to make things right in this nation, the president’s call will be, not for us to fall in line, but for the end of rhetoric and the end of lies, for the beginning of one nation with liberty and justice for all gays, all minorities, all women, all foreign nations, all voters, all citizens, all races, all religions, all people. Liberty and justice for all.