New Year’s resolution for a divided America

Armstrong Williams | 1/3/2019, 12:03 p.m.
As 2018 draws to a close, we face many challenges and unsettling truths as a country. We must resolve to ...
Armstrong Williams

As 2018 draws to a close, we face many challenges and unsettling truths as a country. We must resolve to do better.

Consider just a few elements of our present situation. The federal government is on an indefinite partial shutdown with government employees furloughed or working without pay as President Trump attempts to secure congressional funding for a border wall. Harmful gridlock awaits Congress when it reconvenes in the new year. The financial markets are on a roller coaster, undulating between historic gains and heart-wrenching dips.

Americans are worried. They are increasingly bitter and all too ready to lash out in anger, fear and frustration.

Traditionally the New Year is a time when people take stock of their lives and set resolutions for the coming year. In that spirit, I would like to propose a nationwide commitment to enhanced unity.

The 2019 resolution for all Americans should be to work hard in a spirit of cooperation to drive America forward. One place to start would be bringing an end to the loathsome practice of questioning the motivations of our fellow citizens or impugning the patriotism of those with whom we may disagree politically.

In a more rational time not that long ago, our lawmakers and citizens were permitted to disagree in public without the fear of being labeled as bad actors with nefarious intentions. It should still be possible to weigh arguments on their merits, and to debate about proper approaches to foreign policy, the federal budget, immigration policies and every other issue without resorting to name-calling or morally damning one another.

Somewhere along the way, the valuable and necessary debates over important issues have morphed into questioning each other’s loyalty to this great nation. When we go down this road, we actually undercut part of what makes America an incredible country.

Democrats must stop blaming every ill in the country—and on the whole planet—on President Trump. Republicans should resist the temptation to pin all of our problems on eight years of the Obama administration. Partisan divides have been slowly building for decades, bringing us to the crescendo that we are experiencing today.

We should take steps right away to move back toward mutual respect and enhanced understanding. Otherwise, we could do irreparable damage to the social fabric of America.

Despite a large number of successes that have made America great again, President Trump has his work cut out for him in terms of becoming a more responsible and respectable leader. The tone is set from the top, and it is long overdue for him to stop actively seeking to polarize and further divide our citizens. He demeans himself and damages his own legacy with personal attacks, hyperbolic tweets, demonization of the press and self-aggrandizement. Humility, restraint and dignity don’t make you weak—they are the hallmarks of leadership.

Starting today, we can choose a different path. A stellar recent example of working across party lines to get things done is the sweeping new criminal justice reform law that received overwhelming support from members of both major political parties, resulting in a vote of 87 to 12 in the Senate. Lawmakers came together to pass a much-needed piece of legislation that delivers major benefits to our citizens, both in terms of financials and fairness.