To the Editor,
It goes without saying that there is a great deal of division in America today. Many of us lament those divisions, and we worry about the damages wrought by the often-bitter conflicts inherent in this divisiveness that seems to permeate our society.
Why is our country so divided? I would submit that a line from the old movie Cool Hand Luke answers that question pretty well: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
We have more information at our disposal today than ever before in human history. But so much of that information is manipulated and presented in a form designed to convince rather than inform, and consumers of information instinctively seem to gravitate toward those sources that reinforce their prejudices rather than spark their reasoning skills. Today, not only are we entitled to form our own opinions, but many among us have gotten into the habit of deciding upon our own set of facts as well.
Where, then, do political parties fit into this overall atmosphere of division? Some would say that partisanship is a big part of the problem, and that our country should not be divided along partisan political lines. Well, that sort of civic piety has often been expressed, but has yet to be put into practice. Sooner or later, every great question comes down to a choice of leadership and direction.
I would respectfully submit that political parties have important roles to play in American society. Our partisan identity says a great deal about us as individuals, and now perhaps more than ever in living memory our partisan loyalty says a great deal about our world view. I think partisanship is an indicator of our disposition toward humanity and of our hopes and fears for the future. In a cultural climate with so many failures in communication, our partisan identities communicate for us, and the decision to affiliate with a political party has an impact upon the world around us.
I cannot speak for the Republicans among us, except to say that I believe that by and large they want what is best for our country according to their views. I will not assign nefarious motives to such a large group of my fellow Americans, even if some of them show no similar restraint toward Democrats. I figure Republicans are mostly good people who just happen to be wrong most of the time.
However, as election year 2015 dawns, I do want to remind my fellow Mississippians of what it means to be a Democrat. Over many decades, the Democratic Party has distinguished itself as the ideological home for Americans who care about fairness. We are committed to the concept of “Equal Justice Under Law” and at our best have championed great movements forward in the advancement of that principle.
We Democrats believe in the power of community. Upon the Great Seal of the United States are found the words “E Pluribus Unum” (From Many, One). Democrats follow that guiding principle in advocating pubic policies that unite all of us into a great commonwealth of shared humanity that advances all of us toward prosperity together.
And finally, Democrats are at our best when we extol the great and historic American “can-do” spirit of optimism. Whether it was Franklin Roosevelt challenging fear at the height of the Great Depression and the Second World War, John Kennedy reaching for the moon, or Barack Obama daring to make healthcare universal, Democrats are at our best when we look around us to all our fellow Americans with Hope in our hearts and regardless of the challenge before us say: “Yes, We Can.”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Mississippi. We’ll see you next year on the campaign trail.
Rickey L. Cole, Chairman, Mississippi Democratic Party