At the opening of the new Museum of the American Revolution today in Philadelphia, former president Joe Biden called for unity amidst the stark polarization and divisiveness that has gripped our country.
Hearkening to the ideals for which the American Revolution was fought, Biden reminded those assembled that the USA was founded on a remarkable and unique ideology which we must maintain and re-embrace in these troubled times.
“Our founders, they asserted a revolutionary idea,” Biden said, “that all men are created equal, endowed by their creators.”
He went on to bemoan the current state of affairs in which dialogue has devolved to partisan bickering and ideological warfare.
“Americans no longer question the judgment of our opponents,” Biden asserted. “Americans spend more time questioning their motive.”
Here the former Vice President provided a keen insight into the difference between modern politics and the venerable statecraft that has characterized our democracy for the past two and half centuries.
While debate and disputation have always been essential aspects of the democratic process, today we indict each others’ value and worth rather than simply disagreeing on tactics and methods. Rather than recognizing common values and ascribing common decency to those with whom we differ, we demonize the other and conclude that their very ethics and morality are too inconsistent with our own for us to join with them in cooperation.
Yet the fact is, as Biden concluded, “we are so different, but so similar in our aspirations.” In other words, though our goals may be the same, our perspectives on how to reach those goals are often divergent.
While the vast majority of Americans believe in equal rights, freedom of expression and religion, and the pursuit of happiness and success, there are those who conclude that these ideals are most easily achieved with the assistance of robust government programs and regulation, and others who contend that big government interferes with the ability of the individual to succeed and provide opportunity to others. Neither proponent is more malicious or self-interested than the other; they simply propound various methodologies to accomplish a common pursuit.
While it is reasonable to maintain a clear opinion and to vigorously pursue one path or the other, even to debate and question the judgement of those with whom we disagree, it is essential to keep sight of the commonality of our ideals. It is with this shared vision that our forefathers fought for independence and built a nation that has provided hope and refuge for citizens of every background, creed and orientation.
With a return to these Revolutionary values, we can withstand the current political maelstrom and maintain the rich collaborative spirit that has enabled us to build what Biden referred to as the “most respected nation in the world.”
To read more about Biden’s remarks and the museum opening, click here or on the image above.
(Photo credit Kenneth Hilario)
Marc Erlbaum, Contributor