House Divided or House United?
“If a kingdom is divided against itself,
that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.”
Mark 3, 24-25
By: María Alejandra Pulgar
The reunification of the country after the Civil War took 14 years; therefore it would be a misconception thinking the Biden administration will repair in four years the deep fracture that undeniably exists in American society.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the presidential election with the historically highest popular vote (81,281,502) and 306 electoral votes, a result ratified by all states and the US Congress, regardless of the alleged illegal circumstances President Trump and his loyalists tried without success to demonstrate at different instances.
A study by Pew Research towards the end of the Presidential campaign found that more than 50% of Americans surveyed felt confident that Biden would be a President able to “bring the country closer together”.
The issues that America currently confronts go beyond economy or public health, but deeper into a loss of moral and cultural values that used to define the nation. It will require not only the leadership of the President but the good will of all society to build bridges between the profound partisan divisions and restore the soul of America.
Role models and traditional values
Every student in America learns in Social Sciences that the core cultural values of the country are liberty, self-government, equality, individualism, diversity, and unity: Liberty to think, speak and act as long as it does not offend the freedom and rights of others; Self-government to have a say on how the government is run; Equality to be treated fairly, with dignity and with access to all opportunities to succeed; Individualism to respect independence of expression, privacy, and unique initiatives; Diversity to allow the representation of different cultural traditions and values and Unity to always support the republic and democracy.
Government officials at all levels of society are the main public role models for the enforcement of those values. Part of the commitment for public service entails understanding that the officers’ life becomes an example for the constituents, especially the younger generations. When an individual serving in office exhibits behaviors that go against those values and it resonates with portions of society who imitate that behavior, law enforcement mechanisms need to be used to restore order and correct the path to avoid tragic consequences.
Moreover, government officials take an oath to defend and respect the Constitution and laws of the country. The rule of law applies to all individuals, regardless of their role in society; therefore society deteriorates when government fails to apply the procedures created to enforce the laws. Society needs to be mature enough to pursue the legal mechanisms and remove from office timely those public servants who are not respecting the rule of law.
Individuals need to learn that government is not a distant entity but an institution created to guarantee the wellbeing of society. On this time and place in the United States is the responsibility of all citizens to be aware of the performance of their elected officials to ensure that this country continues to be the land of freedom and opportunity for all.
The Trump presidency was an experiment of American society, bringing to the highest office of the land a person without political background but with an attractive personality, which made him attractive to a group who was feeling their needs were being ignored by the establishment up to that moment. Seventy millions of Americans still felt President Trump was the individual who better represents their hopes and needs.
President Biden receives a country deeply divided, with a portion of citizens who doubt the value of institutions and their capacity to protect and work for their needs. However, his experience as Vice-President and Senator is expected to give him the vision and leadership to send the messages and organize the efforts to peacefully restore the faith of all Americans in the institutions, and moreover the capacity of bouncing back together of the health and economic crisis that the country faces today.
Work to restore the soul of America
The fundamental values of American society have to be instilled, modeled, and enforced from home. Although elected officials at all levels are role models for citizens, the main source of behavior modeling for younger members of the community are families and schools. To fulfil that responsibility they need support from all institutions that provide resources and opportunities, and that is where government needs to be active on listening to the needs of the people.
The greatest challenge of the Biden administration will be to quickly define and implement effective methods to reach out and gain the trust of those who did not support their ticket. Listening to their needs with open minds and without judgement will ease the path to begin a healing process of American soul that is bound to take far beyond four years to be restored. It needs to begin as soon as possible.