Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

Thankfully, Ukraine Reminds Us What 'A Nation Divided' Means  | e-mail post

When writing yesterday about what to do about the division in America, I questioned whether or not our nation really is that divided. I pointed to the case of the much closer, higher-turnout election of Kennedy over Nixon in 1960 as a point of modern comparison. However, in the interests of keeping the piece shorter, one of the things I left out from my draft were some historical examples of a divided America, to help provide some perspective about what a really divided America looks like:
In all those cases, there were extremely fundamental disagreements about core elements of our governance. Today, people are at odds over, for example, whether or not the FCC is on a censorship campaign despite the seemingly uncontestable fact that not only are broadcast television standards clearly more relaxed than they have ever been but that we as a nation have more and easier access to a broader variety of material to suit the anyone's most prurient of interests. And don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining; I like it that way. I simply can't take the "FCC as moral gestapo" argument seriously. It's another example of the left having no great causes, and so they pick around the edges.

So it's probably good for all of us to have news of a really divided nation, just to keep things in perspective this Thanksgiving. The Ukrainian elections have the country on the brink of a civil war. International election monitors are claiming widespread vote fraud on behalf of the winner of the election, Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine's Prime Minister, backed by both the outgoing President and Moscow. The EU has spoken out against the results, as has Canada. The U.S. weighed in with Colin Powell mentioning the serious consequences of certifying the fraudulent election (namely U.S. aid). Meanwhile, needless to say, Putin has already been congratulating Yanukovich on his "win," and the outgoing President has asked the world to, basically, mind their own damn business. [Retuers via Yahoo] Today, Ukraine's highest court has blocked the inauguration of Yanukovich. [Reuters via Yahoo] It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Again, like my historical examples, but unlike today, in the U.S., Ukraine shows a fundamental division in a nation, with a part of the nation wanting to pursue westernization and liberalization, wanting to align itself more with the EU and the Western democracies. Now this is a difference that matters: about remaining as a satellite of Russia, little different than the days of the Soviet Union, or becoming an independent and autonomous nation.

I think it would help us all, as we go to see families and friends, many of whom may be at odds on politics, to think of Ukraine or the history of our country, and remember that we agree about more things that we disagree, that we're really all Americans, living in the greatest nation in history, participants in that bold experiment in democracy that still continues. I think that's something for which we should al be thankful, whether your're Michael Moore or Pat Robertson.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Thursday, November 25, 2004
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