Over the last several nights I have been watching the HBO presentation based upon the book, John Adams, the second President of the United States. Adams, along with Thomas Jefferson, his friend and political adversary, were the only two Presidents to sign the Declaration of Independence.
No two men could be much more different in stature and view, yet they shared the same zeal for liberty which ultimately brought victory from the chains of oppression known as British rule. They showed an uncanny ability to work through their differences and forge a compact, yet always remained rivals in politics, sometimes testing their friendship and mettle.
Adams, a no nonsense New Englander, spoke passionately and bluntly, often making it difficult for him to reach agreement with his opposition. A short, balding and somewhat frumpy man and a Federalist, he favored a very strong federal government and often was seen after the Revolution as favoring Britain over other European states, especially France, which had come to our aid and played a major Naval role in our ultimate triumph.
Jefferson, the consummate Virginian, was soft spoken (he actually stammered often) and often appeared shy, yet his gift of the written word was acknowledged by all. As a Southern Democrat-Republican, he vigorously pushed for making sure that the people were always foremost in importance, seeing government more as a necessary evil. A lean and well groomed man, Jefferson favored the French who he respected for setting out for liberty of their own after their experience in support of America. He often said that America needs to support France's efforts, no matter how bloody, for it was created out of our example.
These men were two of the principals in the early days of the Republic. After Washington's two terms were completed, Adams defeated Jefferson for President and Jefferson became his Vice President. Four years later, Vice President Jefferson defeated Adams after one term. It was truly a topsy turvy relationship.
Despite their competition and variance in views, both men had the common bond of America. They knew that it would take a coming together of good men from all walks of life and all viewpoints to make her successful and they were able to work their way through the conflicts and come to a solution. Without that, our nation would have never been formed and it could have never grown into the most powerful on earth while standing for freedom and the rule of law, not man.
And why do I bring this up? l do so because today we are very close to losing our very special experiment known as America and with it the freedom that we have grown to cherish. Today's politicians are all about gamesmanship, trying to one-up each other regardless of what the nation needs. Instead of being able to come together, we have split so far apart that we are nearly at the point where the things that bind us no longer carry any weight. No one individual or group is responsible for all of the overall problem, but there are those who either see keeping the division alive as a way of staying in power or are actually selfish cowards, afraid to stand for anything even though the recognize that we are destroying ourselves.
And while the President is a significant part of the problem, having so rigorously divided the nation according to racial and other factional lines, the leaders of the different houses of Congress have reached accommodations to maintain the status quo for the good of themselves and their cronies. Men like Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell talk very different games but by their actions they tend to show great favoritism for bigger government, giving them more power and perks. And, of course, the favored lobbying groups, be they large corporations or large unions, as well as special interests like the Chamber of Commerce or LaRaza, have used money as a way to co-opt them to a certain way of thinking. Frankly, the only ones left out of consideration in the ongoing deliberations are WE the PEOPLE.
The only way this will change is if good American citizens, those of us who work every day and pay our bills, as well as those who are undergoing hardship and need the legitimate help of a hand up not an eternal hand out, come together and realize that we have more in common than we do with any politician, be they Republican, Democrat or Independent. This realization has the potential to change the way we vote and to put our common heritage together instead of living in a divide. That's what created the American Spirit and that's what will bring her back.
Do we have the strength and courage to do so? That, my friends, is the question of our time and the answer will determine our fate.