Monday, October 20, 2014

Common Ground

I recently had a conversation about opposing ideologies finding common ground and willing to view problems facing both sides. Unless we are willing to open our minds to problems facing both sides, then we can never find common ground. No matter if people are left or right, they are still citizens and the Constitution and all laws apply to them equally.

We can take this to an extreme and point to the Civil War. There were two differences of opinion and neither side could find common ground. Because the country had a weak leader who couldn't find a resolution to problems, he resorted to guns. Unless something changes, the USA is once more on that same course.

The USA has two major ideologies and both have been conditioned to hate one another. Most of the time, each side wants all or nothing, whether it's gay marriage or drug legalization. Let's take a moment and revisit history and see what happens when both sides become immovable objects that refuse to change.

On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. History has recorded that act as a great moment in the United States. Who can argue that ending slavery is a bad thing? No one, of course. What can be argued is the manner in which it was done.

It has always been said that what set the USA apart from the rest of the world was it's equal enforcement of the law. In a land of laws there are always good and bad laws. To change a law, there is always a proper process. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that a president can issue a proclamation creating law. It can be argued that the Emancipation Proclamation was legal because it was a time of war. Does that still apply when it was a war of his own creation? Aren't those presidential proclamations only temporary?

Revisionist history tells us that the Civil War was about slavery. That was the reason given for legal secession, but it was more about taxes and tariffs that were levied unfairly against products produced in southern states. What caused states to secede is unimportant to this conversation. What we must ask is, if the war was about slavery, why did Lincoln wait two years into the war before freeing slaves? This was simply a tactic to stop Europe from providing military support to the Confederacy, and to gain support of abolitionists.

Pro Lincoln people will always say that the Emancipation Proclamation was a good thing even if it wasn't legal. From the vantage point of those in the Confederacy, the Emancipation Proclamation was meaningless as it only freed slaves in rebellious states, those not under US jurisdiction. 500,000 slaves in the border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware weren't affected by the presidential declaration. If war was the price worth paying for ending slavery—why not invade border states and territories to end slavery? Because the war wasn't about slavery, it was about retribution for daring to defy the US government.

The United States attacked another nation , the Confederate States of American and then used that war to bypass the Constitution of the United States. Even if done for righteous reasons, rule of law must come first. Today, we have a Congress that sits idly by as presidents write Executive Orders that pass into law within 90 days if not challenged by Congress or the courts.

A real leader would have avoided the Civil War. If Lincoln wanted to end slavery, there is a legal process. That many states only secede when they feel there is a legitimate cause. There were clearly problems beyond slavery that caused secession.

Lincoln is celebrated for saving the Union, when in fact, he is part of the problem that nearly caused its destruction. A leader works out problems without the country falling apart. In modern America, we have presidents who are too willing to create a political divide that has once again raised talk of secession. These modern presidents aren't working for common solutions that can quell some of the arguments of today. The USA has some serious problems, but we have presidents and a Congress that seek only a political divide. We have reached a point where each side demands total capitulation as a form of compromise. As long as we remain a nation divided, politicians have more room to run rampant.

We have to stop praising politicians who divide the country, write policy that destroys the economy, and keeps large segments of the population in poverty. This country is one election away from state secession. If that happens, will millions more Americans die because some president decides the Union must remain intact at all cost? I'm willing to bet that once again armed force would be used to decide the problem. We should never forget that being a part of the United States by the use of force isn't liberty. Without the possibility of secession, those in Washington truly have nothing to fear.

Start electing people who can work to find solutions and satisfy both sides of the ideological fence. There are solutions, but both sides must see the whole picture and not a corner chosen by ideological leaders. The next time you go to the ballot box, don't vote for the person who promises compromise, but one that has shown they stand on common ground.

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