OUR VIEW: There is no ‘us’ against ‘them’

This editorial appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Nov. 1. Columns printed that day are linked below.

We do not have a crystal ball.

Despite all the polls and surveys, we cannot say what America will look like on Wednesday, Nov. 4, the day after the polls close on this tense election.

Deep fears exist about the legitimacy of the election itself. In August, the Pew Research Center reported that only half of registered voters expected it would be easy to vote in the November presidential election. That was down 35 percentage points since before the midterm elections of 2018.

In April, just 14 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew said they were very confident the presidential election would be conducted fairly and accurately. Only 45 percent were somewhat confident.

We can’t predict the future, but we can hope.

More than that, we can believe that the principles — no matter how flawed and exclusionary their interpretations and executions have been over our nearly two and a half centuries — will continue to hold this nation and keep it whole.

These principles unite us now, despite the rhetoric and difference in political designation ― Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian or something else entirely ― as they have since before independence was declared.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

As Abraham Lincoln noted in the Gettysburg Address, the Civil War tested if “any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.

Many have compared the current political climate to a civil war: a battle of red state principles and values against blue state principles and values.

In June, A Rasmussen Report national online and telephone survey found that one-in-three voters continue to believe the United States of America is on the brink of another civil war in the next five years.

These are turbulent times, but we reject the notion of us against them and urge you to do the same.

There is no blue or red. Only us.

We do not always agree, and we should not.

Some of this nation’s greatest strengths are wrapped up in the belief that dissension and individualism are valued.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

A little more than a year ago, this community showed the power of American unity.

We demonstrated the truths we hold to be self-evident when a group affiliated with the KKK came to town.

It was in defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we rallied around each other after 15 tornadoes struck in one night and again when a gunman took nine innocent lives in the Oregon District.

We picked each other up and showed the spirit that burns deep in our core.

It is that spirit that will carry us onward, together.

This is not a perfect union, but it is a union worth saving and one that so many have fought to preserve.

Perfection is our goal.

No matter the outcome of the election, we must continue to believe in the principles that have made us the United States of America.

United is a future worth seeing.