A loss of national unity
Political conflict still persists between those supporting Donald Trump and those who voted for Hillary Clinton. After a heated election for U.S. president, the ideal conclusion is for the spirit of national unity to prevail, but with so many unresolved conflicts, political solidarity now seems to be quite distant.
One of the most touching calls to national unity occurred 12 years ago at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Sen. John Kerry had been nominated for president and Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, was called upon to give the keynote address.
Obama eloquently called upon the strength of America’s racial diversity. He said:
I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
Obama made it clear that the nation’s strength came from the unity of the people in support of democratic values. He was harshly critical of those who would divide us.
Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.
Obama’s identification with national unity helped to carry him to two terms as president (2008-2016). However, Donald Trump’s campaign played to the anger of those who had lost their middle class status and he enlivened America’s latent bigotry. Trump’s early administration appointments indicate his commitment to those who are racially and religiously divisive.
Gen. Michael Flynn, an avowed opponent of Islam, has been named national security adviser; Sen. Jeff Sessions from Alabama has been named Attorney General despite his conflict over the years with African Americans; and Steve Bannon, a proponent of the white supremacist alt-right perspective has been named chief strategist.
Trump will name others with loftier reputations to his administration but the message is clear. The spirit of racial harmony that was a hallmark of the Obama era has come to an end.