Seeking common ground
The American political climate has become one of absolutes with no middle ground. You are either anti-mask or pro-mask; anti-vaccine or pro-vaccine; anti-abortion or pro-abortion. You either agree to have a border wall or you are labeled as un-American for wanting open borders; you either support the destruction of our cities during protests for racial justice or you are labeled a racist yourself.
Within this system, there is no room for compromise; in fact, the term is viewed as a negative one rather than a positive one. If you simply agree that the “other side” has made a good point, you are weak, spineless, and do not belong among the ranks of your political party. This is not the way our republic was founded and this strict partisanship will not support our democracy for much longer.
Proverbs 18:2 states, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
Our great country has, in the past, been fruitful and welcoming to bipartisanship. In 1860, only a year before the most divided time in our nation’s history, Abraham Lincoln won the general election. When it came time to appoint people to his cabinet, Lincoln nominated New York Sen. William Seward, Missouri Judge Edward Bates, and Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase, all of which had lost the Republican nomination to Lincoln.
In what most likely came as an even bigger surprise, President Lincoln appointed Democrat Edwin Stanton as his Secretary of War. Lincoln explained his decision by saying: “We need the strongest men of the party in the Cabinet. We needed to hold our own people together. I had looked the party over and concluded that these were the very strongest men. Then I had no right to deprive the country of their services.”
President Lincoln revered these men as great leaders and strong minds and did not block them from serving their country simply because they sometimes disagreed with him. That is the kind of leadership we need to bring back into American politics.
Our neighbors are not our enemies simply because we think differently from them. We have to remember that we should all have one goal in mind: to better the lives of our fellow Americans and to maintain liberty and justice for all; the only thing that makes us unique from our political opposites is our ideas on how we can achieve that goal for everyone.
Josiah Carl Hepler