Editor’s note: this article is dedicated to my first non-familial fan, Esky.
Why do we belong together?
This should not be an offensive question, yet it cannot seriously be asked in our modern political climate–particularly by conservatives–without expecting angry retribution. But when John Jay wrote Federalist Paper #2, he did so out of the need to convince the American people that they must cede some of their natural rights for the sake of unity; that, although the states had distinct governments and oftentimes different interests, they would need to sacrifice some of these interests for a greater good. Jay reasoned that this unity always comes at a price, but he was also able to guarantee that the overwhelming majority of identity and of morality would be preserved despite the institution of an American union. Indeed, this small price for unity was one of his key arguments in favor of the US Constitution.
He wrote: “It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but that one connected, fertile, widespreading country was the portion of our western sons of liberty. Providence has in a particular manner blessed it with a variety of soils and productions, and watered it with innumerable streams, for the delight and accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of navigable waters forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if to bind it together; while the most noble rivers in the world, running at convenient distances, present them with highways for the easy communication of friendly aids, and the mutual transportation and exchange of their various commodities.
“With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”
Why do we belong together? We do because–as John Jay attributed to the miraculous providence of our Creator–we have defined unity through geographic boundaries, we view ourselves as kin compared with how we view the rest of the world, we understand each other when we speak, we have the same religion and the same moral laws which stem from it, we hate to have a large government lording over us, we love free-market capitalism and strong property rights, we have the same behavioral standards, and we’ve already fought together to repel our common enemies. But imagine if some of these aspects were missing at that time. Imagine that John Jay were to have written something far different, suggesting that Americans ought to sacrificially place themselves under a common union although some of the states believed Mohammed was the Lord’s prophet, although some of the states spoke Spanish and Swahili, although some were Communists and others Socialists, although some had and popularly supported a king and others did not, and although some states had refused to fight a war against King George III. Imagine the absurdity of such a request!
What rights would have to be ceded? What moral stances would have to be discarded? Who would be their elected leaders, and would the others even follow a democratically-elected official? Would Americans yield to the principles of the Qur’an one day, and the Communist Manifesto the next? What rights would be guaranteed? How high would the taxation be, where would the revenue go, would property ever be safe, and would trade even remain between the states?
Obama and much of the Democratic party–and indeed, much of even the Republican party–believe that we maintain a unity as the United States of America. But for what purpose? Is it even fair to say that we, despite serious ideological and cultural differences, are working toward a common goal? The existence of the TEA Party (a revolutionary title, I must remind the reader) and rampant discontent among Americans of all types suggests not. Indeed, Americans are beginning to ask themselves whether or not they are sacrificing too many core beliefs to validate a serious unity. And they are right.
When one America recognizes the principles of Communism and Socialism as valid and the other does not, when one America accepts a mosque at Ground Zero and the other does not, when one America recognizes unalienable rights and the other does not, when one America believes we should speak the same language and the other does not, when one America believes in borders and the other does not, when one America believes that children have a right to life and the other does not, when one America believes that the constitution is “a living document” and the other does not, the time has come for us to decide whether or not these two Americas belong together at all. Although many Americans believe unity in diversity is our most cherished possession, our most precious goal of political existence, when unity is bought at the price of our very dignity, that unity should possess a stench so repulsive, that it would be better to divide than remain together.
So why do we belong together? Perhaps at this time, we ought to consider how long this pluralism can continue increasing until the United States of America cannot peacefully exist, or whether we’d like to reclaim America–boldly–as a country founded under unalienable rights and culturally-unified, valid principles. There is always a price to pay for unity, but there comes a point at which the price becomes too high, the sacrifices for unity too abominable. Perhaps today is the day we say there are many countries in the world which love anti-American principles, but only one United States of America. And as such, we will fight to keep it that way.