Of all the charges leveled at Barack Obama by his Republican critics – that he was born in Kenya, that he foisted an unconstitutional health care program on an unsuspecting Congress – one stands up: He promised to unite the country and failed to do so.
It was a foolish promise, but Obama wasn’t the first presidential candidate to make it. That would be Richard Nixon, who in the tumultuous election year of 1968, promised – in addition to having a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War – that he would “bring us together.”
Needless to say, that didn’t happen. As a presidential pledge it was BS then, it’s BS now, and as long as this country remains a working democracy, it will always be BS. We have never, not even in the founding days of the republic, been a “united” country in the sense that political factionalism and societal disharmony didn’t exist.
George Washington was accused of having kingly ambitions, and though I wasn’t around at that time, I was when, during the heaviest fighting of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt’s Republican opponents denounced him as an incompetent commander-in-chief. (The slogan for the Republican ticket of Thomas Dewey and John Bricker in 1944 was WIN THE WAR QUICKER WITH DEWEY AND BRICKER.)
I also remember being at Vice President Agnew’s side during the presidential campaign of 1972 when a reporter asked him to respond to the charge that his speeches were “divisive.” Agnew’s answer: “Divisive means ‘to divide.’ I thought that’s what elections were all about.”
Unity? It’s a rhetorical fancy advanced by those who really mean, “Why don’t we settle our differences by your agreeing with my position?”
Which is to say I hope I don’t live to see the day when we have a “unified” country; the sort, that is, that Donald Trump and his cerebrally challenged followers would bring about.
Sound bite to remember
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
–Martin Luther King Jr.