The book The Disuniting of America, by Arthur Schlesinger, is now more than twenty-five years old. While in some respects the book shows its age, it’s message is even more relevant today than when the book was written.
In the book, the late historian Arthur Schlesinger asks what is it that holds a diverse nation together. His answer is acculturation and integration–and he advocates for the continuation of one of America’s founding principles, “E Pluribus Unum.”
Trying to advocate for “E Pluribus Unum” (“Out of Many, One”) is no easy task in America today. I hope that if you are reading this post you will do so in the spirit in which it is written–to make E Pluribus Unum more real for more people in America than ever before–not to subsume anyone’s identities in anyone else’s, but to create an inclusive nation of opportunity for all, that is accepting and respectful of our differences.
Sadly, at the moment America is moving in the opposite direction, with more people on both sides of the political aisle questioning the worth of loyalty to common values and ideals. Thankfully the majority of us, of all races, ethnicities and religions, still recognize that we are all in this together.
I am happy to report that the community of people checking out the website and reading the weekly links is growing nicely, as are the number of people following the Facebook page. With apologies to those of you who are reading comprehensively, starting with next week’s post I am going to begin to re-post some of the earlier posts, as well as continue to post new material. (Still just one post a week, as promised.) There are a lot of newer followers who haven’t seen the earlier posts. I think it’s important that they do, both to help them understand what Liberal Republican politics might look like and to provide some background on the history of Liberal Republicanism. (In that regard, if you haven’t already done so, please go to Chapter 2 of the website and also read “Fixing Our Broken Politics” on the website’s homepage.)
This week’s link is again to the Bibliography With Commentary section of the website. It is to the description of Lewis Gould’s book Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans. This week’s post and link are intended to address the concerns and frustrations of many people–self-identifying Republicans, Democrats and Independents–that the present political makeup of the Republican Party is permanent. The press is full of articles assuming so. There are articles about the need for a third party, and the imminent implosion of the Republican Party (from Conservatives as well as Progressives), and other doom and gloom political scenarios.
Maybe that is America’s future. But it’s important to understand that so far that is not what has happened historically in America. Rather, both the Republican and Democratic parties have repeatedly adapted, becoming more and less conservative over time, and shifting their positions on a wide variety of issues. I believe that there is every reason to expect that this will continue to be the case, and it is a primary goal of this website to put that idea in people’s heads. The short description of Gould’s wonderful book linked here provides some historic foundation for this belief, and the book itself provides much, much more.
As always, please share the website and link with people who you think might be interested. And have a good weekend.
This week’s post will challenge both folks whose politics are to the political right and those whose politics are to the political left. It’s a link to the entry in the Bibliography With Commentary section of the website about H.W. Brands’ biography of President Ronald Reagan. President Reagan’s politics were more conservative than mine (though his politics when he was younger–and by younger, I mean as late as when he was in his mid-Thirties–were more liberal than mine).
The link to the entry is challenging to people on the political right because the myths that have grown up around President Reagan distort the substance of his politics and understate his willingness to compromise. The link to the entry is challenging to people on the political left because they tend to demonize President Reagan as the politician who successfully recalibrated American politics in a conservative direction, which is indeed what he did. But President Reagan does not deserve to be demonized, which I think is clear from reading the linked post. (President Nixon, whose politics were way less conservative than President Reagan’s, is in my opinion someone who deserves to be demonized.)
President Reagan was also a gentleman. (See the paragraphs below from this week’s linked entry.) The contrast with the current occupant of the White House and what has been going on in Hollywood (both worlds which President Reagan inhabited), evidences what has been lost along the dysfunctional path our politics and society have taken…
From the linked entry:
‘Brands quotes extensively from a letter Reagan sent to an old friend from his hometown of Dixon, Illinois who had lost her husband in World War II and been left alone with a young son. She felt she had lost her one true love. Reagan wrote,
“Can you believe that God means for millions of really young people to go on through life alone because a war robbed them of their first loves?…A girl’s judgment of [a man] should be based only on his respect for her wishes…Love can grow slowly out of warmth and companionship and none of us should be afraid to seek it…Now I am going to seal this letter very quickly and mail it because if I read it over I won’t have the nerve to send it.” [emphasis original]
A person could be forgiven for noticing the difference in the feelings and values expressed above by President Reagan and those of too many politicians today…’
As always, please forward and share this if you like it.
Whether one believes in big government or small government, America needs a functional government. The unwillingness of our politicians to compromise [https://www.youtube.com/dancingdots], as has been the case for much of the last several decades, is doing this nation serious harm. Sure, we are muddling through, but it is wearing us down and making us weaker and poorer.
Families, businesses, sports teams and congregations whose members constantly fight with one another are weaker than ones that can put their differences aside and work towards common goals. Most of us know this from experience. So it is with governments.
Where will a continuation of the current dysfunction lead? Assume for a moment that if our current nasty political battles continue there is (i) a one in three chance that really conservative folks will be able to recast America in their image; (ii) a one in three chance that really progressive, social democratic folks are able to recast America in their image; and (iii) a one in three chance that America is pulled apart in the battle. With those odds, why would anyone who really loves America risk insisting on a “my way or the highway” choice, especially recognizing that there are huge numbers of people on each side of this ideological divide who would be unhappy living under one or the other vision? We need to find a way to bridge our political differences back to pragmatic, consensus-oriented politics. [Chapter 1]
If you want to know why King George III thought that General George Washington might have been the greatest man alive click here. Or if you are a college football fan click here. (This one is interesting given yet another Alabama national championship.)