“FRIENDS, FOES AWAIT AN ENCORE” screamed the front-page headline in today’s Washington Post.
And therein lies the problem. President Obama has either friends or foes in America. There is little middle ground.
America’s 57th inaugural ceremony was the theme for my Toastmasters club meeting yesterday morning. Several speakers mentioned during the course of the morning that on Inauguration Day, we’re all Americans. The clear intimation of that comment is that on the other days, those who disagree with us really aren’t Americans. When it was my time to speak late in the meeting, I noted that we are all Americans every day, and we need to remember that. We are a diverse nation with diverse views, but we need to find a way to once again work with the schmucks who disagree with us and move this country forward.
The public doesn’t expect that to happen. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released a poll on Thursday that shows only 23 percent of those polled believe Republicans and Democrats will work together to move the country forward. Sixty-six percent believe the parties will “Bicker and oppose one another more than usual.”
Sounds depressing. But I remain an eternal optimist. This isn’t the first time the schmucks celebrated divisiveness over diversity. In fact, our country has a proud history of bickering and opposing one another.
When I was discussing my Toastmaster mini-speech in an email exchange with a friend later in the day, she wrote that Thomas Jefferson would be proud of me. I think not. Jefferson was one of the meanest and most underhanded politicians of his time. He quit George Washington’s cabinet in a huff because our first president favored Alexander Hamilton’s nationalistic fiscal policies over Jefferson’s agrarian policies. As vice president under President John Adams, Jefferson did everything he could to thwart Adams’ policies. And, Jefferson paid newspaper editors to paint Adams as a monarchist.
Jefferson was a pro at underhanded politics, but he wasn’t the only revolutionary schmuck. It was the way things were done. Yet our country survived and prospered. And so shall we today. We are all schmucks. The other side just has bigger schmucks. But they are Americans too.