And, largely, we've emerged victorious. While that may be contested from one side of the aisle or the other, we are still America, and our spirit has survived the wars we fight.
At least, it's survived the wars we see.
The closest we've come to seeing the real wars going on in America was the Civil War. To most, it's just a dark spot in history that we recognize now as foolhardy and tragic, but nothing more. If anything, it connotes nothing more than the first relative conquest of prejudice, at least by law. When people think of the Civil War, they think of Lincoln, slaves, and Confederate flags.
They don't think of the year 2011.
But we are indeed fighting a civil war every day. When we have no shortage of real and dangerous enemies in the quickly (d)evolving world around us, we manage to find foes in our countrymen.
Can anyone truly tell me that terrorists are not a threat? Can anyone truly tell me that they'd rather we hadn't killed bin Ladin? Can anyone truly tell me that it would have been better not to fight the American Revolution? I think we can all agree on the point that we are America, and I think we can all agree on the point that we would prefer to continue to be.
Does anyone want higher taxes? Does anyone want unemployment? Does anyone want higher gas prices? No matter which side of the aisle you're on, deep down we all have the desire for true freedom. We are still America.
The parties (or should I say ideologies, since the parties barely define anything anymore) are divided, that much is certain. And our country was founded on conservative principles. But no matter how wrongheaded certain ideologies may be, they have a right to express themselves and share their ideas for what it right.
But they don't even do that. Neither side does.
At this point, it doesn't matter what's right and wrong, because no one really cares about that. I could go on all day (and have many times) about the evils of liberalism and the benefits of conservatism. I could name a million reasons why we need to do it this way instead of that way. But sadly, American political discourse is not yet at that level.
Before we can debate right and wrong, we must first acknowledge that there is a debate to be had, and that the debate we are now heatedly engaged in is not that. We aren't debating whose idea is better for America. I don't think we even know what we believe at all. And since we don't know what we believe, we have to cover it up by making our opponents sound crazier than we are. We aren't even fighting an ideological war anymore; we're just throwing manure at each other's faces and screaming incoherent "talking points," shouting epithets at imagined enemies.
I'm sure our real enemies, i.e. al Qaeda, the Taliban, are laughing their heads off right now at the fact that we spend more time fighting over what to fight about than we do fighting them.
What are we really gaining from the politics of America today? Screaming that one or another group is racist, pinning one or another public enemy as a right-wing religious zealot, indignantly claiming that one or another candidate is insane... Why? Why do we engage in this? These aren't "tactics." This is the most ridiculous war that's ever been fought. And we don't seem ready to surrender (cough, win, cough), even though we're all losing.
Why did President Obama have to schedule a congressional address on the day of one of the GOP primary debates, a debate that's been planned for a long time? According to FOXNews, "the administration would 'welcome' a decision by debate hosts to 'adjust the timing of their debate so that it didn't conflict'... [but will continue their plans for the address] regardless of 'whatever the competing opportunities on television are, whether it's the wildlife channel or the cooking channel.'"
They claimed that it was "coincidental," yet cited "competing opportunities." Conveniently, they mentioned the wildlife channel or the cooking channel, as if that was where the real competition would come from.
This is one more attack in the war that we don't really see. The media reports the casualties constantly, however. Unemployment, stock market fluctuations, rising oil prices, confused voting Americans who are wondering if it might be better just to not vote at all this year.
What do we gain from this? What do we gain from not having any talking points of our own and hoping it'll be enough just to refute the other side's equally nonexistent talking points? What do we gain from calling names and wasting time pretending that we care enough to try? What do we gain from endless hours of fruitless debate that produce nothing but a lukewarm compromise or two that will leave us, in the end, in the same place we started but with more damage to show for it?
This is the war we don't really see.
Or is it the one we really don't want to see?
What do we gain from ignoring the wars we see?