The impeachment process was painful, divisive and bitterly partisan. But there were silver linings. The Constitution took center stage, there was civil debate under the supervision of the Chief Justice and the proceedings were a model of exclusive focus. Would that Congress similarly dedicate itself to solving issues of poverty, healthcare, immigration or the national debt.
Sadly, the impeachment process was a national embarrassment, although for different reasons depending on one’s point of view. It was a battle for the soul of America by two opposing camps.
One camp believes in equal opportunity and a limited role for government. It is nationalist in nature, embraces an “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution and only enumerated rights. The other believes in equal outcomes for all and in government-led redistribution to assure that result. It is globalist in nature, espouses a “contextual” interpretation of the Constitution and a broader set of guaranteed rights, including healthcare, jobs, income and higher education. The former embraces faith as its moral compass; the latter is more secular, relying on science and individualism for its true north.
Battle lines have formed, seen vividly in views on abortion, immigration, gender, race and guns.
Liberals move to expand abortion rights and bring court battles with bakers and nuns to compel services against religious belief. They declare sanctuaries to protect illegal immigrants and call for open borders. They urge America to become “WOKE” to an increased activism for social, gender and racial justice and to higher standards of corporate responsibility. They push for limits on gun ownership. Conservatives counter with originalist judges and legislative restrictions that carve away at Roe versus Wade. They apply immigration restrictions and build walls. They push back against gender self-identification and bathroom access, and litigate court battles to retain historical monuments and paintings. They declare sanctuaries to protect the right to own guns.
On the extremes, “ANTIFA” and “white supremacists” threaten public safety. A campus “outrage culture” shuts down civil discourse and bans ideological diversity. Our nation’s history is ripe with division, but does anyone think the current trajectory is desirable, sustainable? Will it take an existential crisis to bring the nation back together?
What an opportune time for reflection. Our nation’s moral purpose is discernible. It provides for freedom, equality and opportunity, grounded in self-determination, shared sacrifice, service to others and stewardship of national resources. America is exceptional and has global responsibility as a beacon of liberty and democracy, an engine for global economic prosperity and promoter of peace.
As a society we need an intervention—to gain clarity of moral purpose and alignment on the means to sustain the most successful form of government and economic prosperity in history. We need a national dialog enlisting citizen-leaders across all sectors of our country. To break through the partisan division, we need to capture the leadership of Washington, courage of Lincoln, savvy of FDR, consensus-building of Eisenhower, inspiration of JFK, dreams of MLK, steadfastness of Reagan, compassion of Mother Theresa, humility of Gandhi and perhaps most of all, the forgiveness of Mandela.
Let’s restore unity of national purpose and not let divisiveness, partisanship and extremism destroy it. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
Terrence J. Daly
Falmouth Woods Road