You’ve heard it before a million times but it bears repeating right about now. Upon signing the Declaration of Independence, Ben Franklin is reported to have said:
We must all hang together now, or most assuredly, we will all hang separately.
Franklin’s pun was well aimed. The founders were defying the wishes of the King of England, leader of the world’s military superpower at that time. Only by standing together as a unified group, (and only with some perfectly timed divine intervention) did the leaders of the colonial revolt stand a chance.
I attended Red State Gathering last week in Denver. I enjoyed spending some time with Erick Erickson and talking for a bit about things besides politics (but also about politics). I also met a lot of strong, dedicated conservatives. I made a special attempt to talk to as many of them as possible. I even talked to a few of the speakers after they came off stage. There were some areas that divided us to be sure, but there is one thing that unites us. We are scared.
Some may deny it, some may talk about optimism for the future and may even believe it to some extent, but we are scared about what’s going to happen two months from now. By that I don’t mean that folks think the world is going to end, I mean that after eight years of Obama, and under such poor leadership going forward, they think America will become some form of a European Socialist Democracy.
This columnist is done with the analysis. I am so sick of it I can’t put it into words. Since the conventions we have all been trying to choose between a noose around the neck or a pistol shot to the temple with these two candidates. Set aside the enthusiastic supporters of each for a moment. That only leaves two types of voters, those who are #NeverTrump and those who are #NeverHillary. If, after Red State, I could boil all the areas of disagreement between those two factions into a couple of lines it would be these: One group thinks the floor is lower with Hillary as President, the other thinks the floor is lower with Trump. Neither side has embraced or promoted either candidate. So, why can’t there be a mutual respect between the two going forward? Why can’t we agree to disagree and be fully prepared to lock arms on November 9th, regardless of the outcome, and fight for conservatism together once again?
I ask because that’s not what’s happening now. I didn’t see it so much at the gathering but with the exception of columns yesterday by Erick Erickson and Steve Deace and, that’s not the tone that is being struck. Donald Trump’s candidacy has done the one thing that I thought would have been impossible after eight years of Barak Obama, he has fractured the conservative movement into pieces. Some may think that a good thing…a pruning as it were. But when I look at the demographics of this nation, I can’t agree. We can barely win an election now 51% to 49%, we will never win again if we are split apart.
We need more calls for unity. If we can’t unify behind Trump so be it. Then lets at least unify around one another, lacking that let’s unify around conservatism or better yet, around our shared faith in a creator God.
The first step to us doing that is for both sides to admit something to ourselves…we don’t know. Neither side can have any certitude about which candidate will be worse. This is an unprecedented election. Not only does the world seem to be in the midst of massive political and economic upheaval, the throwing off of the Judeo Christian ethic by the larger part of American society is going to have widespread repercussions. All this is happening in an age when information, photographs and even HD video, travel worldwide in seconds. A thousand things could happen to change the course of American democracy while one of these candidates is President and we have no idea how they will respond to those changes. So in light of this volatility can we allow one another some leeway…some grace?
One thing I am confident of, the vast majority of people voting in this election truly want to do what’s best for their country. Those who disagree with my conclusions love their country too. That being said, we had darned well better rediscover our commonality. If we don’t, in a few more years, Franklin’s quote won’t just be a historical, metaphorical, reference.