‘Unity’ Is What’s Dividing This Country

Nick Hankoff Comments

Please, make it stop. These incessant calls for “unity” are already falling flat, and only 1/1,024th of the 2020 Democratic candidates have announced their campaigns. Not to be outdone, even President Donald J. Trump promises “unity” will be the focus of his State of the Union address. Is it any wonder Americans are so divided?

Liberty is ostensibly the founding principle and purpose of the United States of America. But the Constitution also seeks “to form a more perfect Union.” Is this a contradiction that guarantees the American experiment inevitably explodes in our faces, as evidenced by daily reality?

Or could it be that our nation is simply missing a key ingredient? An Abraham Lincoln for our time, say, oh, I don’t know, Senator Kamala Harris or Senator Cory Booker?

“The lines that divide us are nowhere near as strong as the ties that bind us,” presidential candidate Booker assures us. Days earlier, his opponent Harris proclaimed, “We have so much more in common than what separates us.”

Who honestly believes them? Certainly not the overpaid speechwriters and consultants. Maybe they did 15 years ago when a lowly US Senate candidate named Barack Obama won over America with his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America,” Obama famously told a clamoring, emotional audience.

So then, what’s Trump going to say Tuesday night? Spoiler alert: more of the same. Asked what the theme of his State of the Union would be, he replied, “I think it’s unification.”

The 2020 battle line has been drawn. There will be a winner, but it won’t be “unity,” and it won’t be the American people. Unless, and this is where things get radical, the Constitution’s true meaning is honored.

A more perfect union isn’t supposed to mean Soviet. Americans should get real about the practicality of uniting together. It seems like a good intention, but the end product is separate forces united against one another. What the Constitution actually sets out to do is balance unity with subsidiarity, whereby the states and local communities deal with their own problems and the federal authorities mind their own business.

Secession shouldn’t be necessary. Look at what Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote and did in such divisive times. They turned to the Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights and respectively steered Kentucky and Virginia toward nullification of federal laws that attacked freedom of speech.

The federal government’s inclination toward unity is almost always about uniformly subduing the several states and the people therein. Economist and historian Murray N. Rothbard advised libertarians and “many other minority or dissident groups” to “lay the greatest stress on the forgotten Tenth Amendment.”

American society will surely collapse financially and culturally if universal policies and central planning continue to be the means by which we seek unity. Peace and prosperity, however, will take hold if we work from the bottom up at the local level.

Rothbard also implored defenders of liberty to strongly favor non-intervention in foreign policy, agreeing with Madison and Jefferson that war is a means by which the president “unites” the people under his total dominion.

Therefore, in 2020, instead of “unity” being the hill to die on, let it be peace. Trump would be well-served to face an opponent like Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. The country would be well-served too. Because although she laments “divisiveness” in her campaign rhetoric, she points to its root cause being nonsensical wars.

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