As the presidential election campaign comes to an end this month, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves of this important motto that has survived the test of time. Greek slave Aesop used it in two of his fables, and centuries later the patriot Patrick Henry reminded our forefathers of its importance.
Americans have been more polarized than ever before about this most historic of elections. Maybe it’s because gender and race became a large and important part of the political discussions. The issues—the economy, the war, the health system—have also generated heated debates. Whatever the reason, though, it is good to see people care passionately about the election. Apathy had no place among our founding fathers; it shouldn’t have one with us either. Our country is great because we have the freedom to agree to disagree.
Being in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago at the height of the presidential campaign was a vivid reminder to me that we are Americans first and foremost.
At an event at the Lincoln Memorial, I stood silently as our national anthem echoed over the reflecting pool and I noticed how many people had their hands over their hearts. The audience had different political alliances, but patriotism and love of country united us. Many of us choked back tears as the flags waved and the music reached a crescendo.
The next day I serendipitously met Nancy Stanton of Clermont, who was in Washington to promote the Divided We Fail initiative that hundreds of organizations are endorsing. Led by top executives from the AARP, the Business Roundtable, the Service Employees Union (SEIU), and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Divided We Fail is a grassroots effort to stop bipartisan bickering and find solutions for quality, affordable healthcare and long-term financial security.
Nancy explained that the Divided We Fail platform seeks solutions not only from local, state, and federal officials, but also from the private sector and individuals like us.
“The need for health and financial security is something we all share, not just for ourselves, but for future generations,” she said as she gathered signatures from thousands of Republicans and Democrats alike. “If we stand shoulder-to-shoulder, we can achieve success.”
Photo courtesy of Mary Ann DeSantis
Together Americans have indeed accomplished amazing things throughout history. That lesson was not lost on Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who after fighting for independence together, became bitter political enemies. In their later years, they reconciled beginning with an 1812 letter in which Jefferson wrote, “A letter from you… carries me back to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man.”
We are all Americans struggling for the things that are most valuable to us. Now it’s time to work together no matter what side of the political fence we’ve been on this past year. Our country’s future depends upon it.
Mary Ann DeSantis
lives in The Villages.
Read more of her writings