Well, here we go again – the doers versus the dividers on immigration reform.
The problems of illegal immigration, a broken legal immigration system, and inconsistent immigration law enforcement have been with us for years. Indeed, “immigration reform” has become a popular wedge issue for both Republicans and Democrats. (Wedge issues are those used to divide us, one side against the other.) As with most wedges issues, you see lots of posturing, lots of rhetoric, and little useful accomplishment.
Over the past year another “gang” of U.S. Senators has been working to find a way to get immigration reform passed. The media has popularized the term “gangs” for bi-partisan groups of senators working on compromise solutions to tough problems.
This “gang of eight” included Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and Jeff Flake and Democratic Senators Charles Schumer, Robert Menendez, Richard Durbin, and Michael Bennet. They crafted a compromise immigration reform bill that made it out of committee to the Senate floor, no mean accomplishment that.
Republican Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota then strengthened border security provisions through an amendment. As a result, the Senate passed the bill 68 to 32.
In between bleeding heart liberals and heartless conservatives abide ordinary Americans with heartfelt concerns about the future of our country. Those of us with deep roots – I am a Mayflower descendant – shudder at the rise of divisive politics and the decline of historic ideals that unite us.
In between Memorial Day, when we as a nation remember and celebrate those who died for our freedom, and Independence Day, when we as a nation remember and celebrate the freedoms they died for, we should remember our roots and ponder if the divided nation we are becoming is something to celebrate.
Let us remember.
“We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,” reads the last line of the Declaration of Independence.
People who “mutually pledge” lives, fortunes, and honor do not spend fortunes and countless hours denouncing, deriding, and disrespecting each other. Their efforts focus on coming together, not driving apart. They respectfully seek common ground, not relentlessly pursue groundless battles.
In 1892 Baptist minister Francis Bellamy recaptured the concept stated in the Declaration in fewer words easier for children to recite. We now call this our Pledge of Allegiance.
“The time was ripe for a reawakening of simple Americanism,” Bellamy said of his choice of words “one nation indivisible” (the words “under God” were added later).
“One nation indivisible” does not allow itself to be torn apart from within. It sustains ties, mends frays, and forges new bonds. It makes diversity a strength and consensus its goal.
If, as it seems, our political leaders are interminably trapped in divisive politics that weaken us as a nation and a free people, where do we turn for help?
Our founders put the answer right at the front of our Constitution, “We the People.”
We tolerate divisive politics, or we do not. We allow it to continue or we stop it.
We find common ground and stand united, or we fall apart.
The complete Preamble to the Constitution provides perspective:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Our founders said we must do all this in a mutually agreeable way. The dividers want to leave out or greatly weaken some parts.
How do we stop them?
Tell our elected leaders we expect them to seek agreement, find common ground. And we won’t tolerate messages attacking the other side. There is no other side. America is indivisible.
Tell them we only want messages about their efforts to find common ground.