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Whatever good thing can be said about the United States, but being united is not one of them. 

Not that we have been all that united in the past. The disastrous Civil War was the result of Americans letting differences evolve into deep divisions. Sadly, we are showing signs of becoming that divided once again.

We cannot even unite to fight the common enemy of a deadly virus that has infected more than 40 million Americans and killed some 640,000.

So to suggest we are a united country feels like a cruel joke. The question is, can anything be done to reduce the impact our divisions are having?

I believe there is, but it’s going to require a degree of candor that will at first appear to exacerbate the problem, but in the long run is the only way to do anything about it.

The truth that must be told about the situation we are in is that the current extremism of the Republican Party is playing the major role in creating the divisions we face.

God knows Democrats can say and do stupid things, can be as selfish and self-serving as Republicans, but the Democratic Party is not controlled by a radical element as is the case with Republicans.

More than that, the damage Republicans are doing is at the very political system that makes us the country we are. 

When Republicans claim Democrats pose a danger to the American way of life because they want to turn us into a socialist country, they are talking about economics.

Socialism is not a political system, though Republicans, especially voters, don’t seem to understand this fact. All European democracies, for example, practice economic socialism while the governments are as democratic as ours is.

Republicans may not like the elements of socialism we have such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, unemployment compensation, but none of these has any effect on the kind of democracy we are.

Not so with what Republicans are doing. They are seeking to bring down our constitutional democracy. Here is why I say that.

When you refuse to support the peaceful transfer of power as many Republicans did in refusing to affirm the vote of the Electoral College, you are trying to bring down our democracy.

When you plant doubt in people’s minds about the trustworthiness of voting results with false claims of a fraudulent election, you trying to bring down our democracy.

When you attack the American Capitol in an effort to stop the functioning of the government, you are trying to bring down our democracy.

When you defend the Insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol by calling them “loyal Americans,” you are trying to bring down our democracy.

When you pass laws that allow partisan control of vote counting as Republican controlled state legislatures are doing, you are trying to bring down our democracy.

When you reject compromise as the necessary tool of democracy and filibuster all legislation proposed by Democrats regardless of merit, you are trying to bring down our democracy.

When you refuse to tell the truth about anything, reject the role of facts in decision-making, and pretend science is no better than an uninformed opinion, you are trying to bring down our democracy.

When you turn the debate about a woman’s right to control her own body into vigilante justice whereby the state is paying a bounty to private citizens who try to enforce an unconstitutional law (and it will be prove so eventually), you are trying to bring down our democracy.

None of these examples are fabricated. They have happened and are happening in real time.

But here’s the important thing. These actions by Republicans tell us why they are doing what they are doing. Examine all of them and what you discover is a simple truth: Republicans no longer live by the values that have held us together as a nation in spite of our political and religious differences.

A conflict of values is what led the nation into the Civil War and Republicans are trying to create a similar conflict of values in their determination to divide and conquer us politically.

We cannot allow them to achieve their goals. While I have no special insight into what we can do to stop them, here are some things I invite you to think about.

First, we cannot minimize the seriousness of the threat Republicans pose and the damage they are doing.

This means we cannot be fooled by sloppy journalism that presents the political conflicts we face as the usual divisions between Republicans and Democrats that make what’s happening seem like “business as usual.”

Republicans do not represent a different point of view, they represent an attack on the very system that allows different points of view.

We do not live in ordinary times and we must remember that Republicans are the primary reason why.

Second, we must defeat Republicans running in all local, state, and federal elections.

Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are examples of what happens when Republicans buck the Party to do what is right.

This means defeating a few Republicans will not stop what they are doing. Not even controlling the Senate and the House more than Democrats do now will stop them.

Handing Republicans a resounding defeat is the only way to stop their assault on the way American democracy has to function to work for all of us. That defeat must be at all levels of our democracy to have the impact we need.

This will require Republicans who still share traditional American values to reject any candidate who has drunk the Republican kool-aid, They don’t have to vote for a Democrat. They just have to not vote for Republican.

Third, we have to stay informed in order to stay ahead of Republican lies, distortions, misinformation, and propaganda.

Lies thrive when no one is telling the truth. If it is true that if you tell a lie enough times people will begin to believe it, it is just as true that if you tell the truth enough times people will begin to believe it.

We must be the truth tellers to counter the lies Republicans keep telling and trust that in the long run truth will prevail.

Finally, Democrats, independents, and the minority of principled Republicans left must stick together amid our differences, something the news media is trying hard to prevent us from doing.

Our differences pale in comparison to the common opponent we face, extremist Republicans.

What Democrats and independents and disgusted Republicans must realize sooner rather than later is that Republicans who want to bring down our government or have autocratic control of it have power because they stick together.

We have to do the same.

I am not talking about giving ourselves or our leaders a pass for wrongs done or stupid thinking. Pulling together doesn’t require that we all agree on issues, only that we make sure our votes reflect the values of honesty and integrity, truth, justice and fair play that we must preserve to save the nation.

I believe most of us are feeling discouraged about the state of our nation. I understand that, even as I believe it is unnecessary.

Hope has nothing to do with a Pollyanna view of life. It has to do with being a realist who in tough times refuses to believe evil is stronger than good because the evidence in history is that it never has been.

So the question is not, is there any hope? It is, instead, are we ready to do what it takes to save our country from Republicans who have chosen to reject the core values that have sustained us in the past and will in the future, if we hold fast to them.

(To further explore the reason values are the key to our future politically and religiously, you might find my book, Unbinding Christianity: Choosing the Values of Jesus over the Beliefs of the Church, helpful.)