I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal, published January 3rd, 2023, and written by Ben Sasse, a Republican United States Senator from Nebraska. Sasse's article occupies the top-half of the WSJ' opinion-page, while an opposing opinion-piece, written by Gerard Baker, the WSJ's former editor- in-chief, occupies the lower-half.
Senator Sasse titles his article "America's True Divide: Pluralists vs. Zealots," and explains that our leaders need to recognize the truth of the situation, if we want the nation to regain its unity: "Civic pluralists understand that ideas move the world more than power does, (because) pluralists value debate and reason." But do Sasse's fellow Republican Senators accept or endorse his juxtaposing of ideas and power? Can they build a following or a consensus from it? Doesn't he put the proverbial cart in front of the horse?
In a first column, Sasse includes a block-quote: "Stop making politics about partisan identities and tribalism and get back to persuasion and policy." This and his previous comment really concern me. If a gentle, socially-conscious church minister said these things, I could understand and forgive his detachment from worldly things; but Sasse should know in detail about the arm-twisting and deceit that goes on in national politics. And he has shown a certain fortitude, if not defiance in maintaining his own stance, philosophy, and value system through it all.
But when he cannot persuade his opponents to respect his philosophy and go along with his policy initiatives, what will he do? Does he ignore the negative characterizations in the Democratic media that disparages him? Does Sasse and his opponents shake hands and agree to disagree? Of course, not! They have a country to run and have to supply the political initiatives to move it forward; so they have to start twisting arms, offering deals to key senators to make them defect from their own side, and most of all communicate the ability to win.
The obligation to win against opponents remains a constant in human endeavors, in football games, neighborly card games, or international contests like the Olympics or the World Cup. No one wants lose or even accept a compromise that causes his side to lose face. The fans, the coaches, and their friends and families expect the players to go for broke and win. Look at the face of losing coaches, unseated political candidates, or TV news staff that has to eat its words. Tell me that winning does not matter, and that we can compromise to save face. Politics basically sublimates military actions. Like war, politics involves turf battles and conquest. Remember that Adolf Hitler won his victory in the ballot box.
The Left has already claimed the "Pluralism" theme for its own, couched it in the usual left-wing mantras of tolerance and diversity, anything to lull the American public away from recognizing the threats—not to the "Zealots" as much as to the basic assumptions that Republicans have about the country—its Constitution, its emphasis on secure borders, safe streets, a market-economy enriched by investment capital, and its moral parameters.
"How can you say things like that?" left-wingers will ask me in exasperation. "That's not our view of the world, at all!" They feel the same kind of shock Republicans feel about their life-styles, their view of the role of government, their hostility toward capitalism.
I will say it as often as I need to say it: The United States is no longer a united country, and the fear and pessimism darken our view of the future. Dividing the country will win a victory for all of us—first of all, just to show that we can do it; secondly to win unity for new, fully-independent nations, and allow newly freed peoples to embrace their own national ethos.