If you thought that an election that saw a firm majority elect a new president, give him a mandate and their hopes for the future would result in a calmer, less angry, and happier nation ...
Well, welcome to July 4, 2021, in the United States of America.
Or should we say the less United States.
No, we are not on the verge of a new civil war — despite what some on the far left and far right would like you to believe. To the best of our knowledge no congressman from one party has tried to beat another senseless with a cane, a la Preston Brooks and poor Charles Sumner. No one has seized a federal arsenal. (Although, to be fair, there are some of our fellow citizens so well armed that they wouldn’t know what to do with any more firepower.) There are no guns laid to fire on Ft. Sumter — which still bears the scars of that first assault.
But are we, as Lincoln said more than a century and a half ago, a “house divided against itself?”
Nearly a third of Americans believe — or tell pollsters they believe — that the current president of the United States got there by hook and by crook.
In this belief they are encouraged by the former president, who — some close confidants say — is absolutely certain he will be restored to office, oh, any day now.
Some of our fellow Americans look at our shared history today and seem to see only the darkest, most shameful pages, convinced that they give the lie to all the proud rhetoric about liberty.
Foreign experts on democracy, the New York Times reports, pronounce themselves profoundly worried about the state of American politics, concerned that we may be headed down the road of former Soviet bloc states that seem to be muffing their experiments with popular government.
But consider this, too:
After a painful year in race relations, city, state and federal governments adopted “Juneteenth” — a celebration of the end of slavery that had been little known outside the Black community — as a new holiday.
Despite the overheated punditry about “critical race theory” Americans are actually taking a look at our national story — not critical, but clear-eyed — and asking how we can do better.
Whether in supporting one another during the pandemic, or reaching out to victims of natural disaster — or sending our best and bravest to a tragic building collapse in Florida, Americans are still capable of coming together.
And that is a house that can continue to stand.