November 11, 2012

A nation divided


Lost in this emphasis on all things urban are rural areas like ours, or rural states like Louisiana. Our lack of population concentration means we grow accustomed to the fact that, should something go wrong, police may be an hour away. In New York City, they are likely a block away. Rural areas cannot rely on government and have developed a resiliency unfamiliar to our urban cousins.

This is the root of the great divide. Our nation is less red and blue and more rural and urban. The election map just as accurately colored blue those areas with major urban centers like Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, the District of Columbia and Boston in the east and Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Portland and Seattle in the west.

Our nation is less Republican and Democrat than rural and urban. It may be impossible to integrate this fundamentally different reality in which one group emphasizes self reliance and smaller government while the other demands more government.

People want very different things from their government. Yet, we all pay equally. I don’t know if these differences can be easily reconciled.

The president had the wisdom to recognize this fundamental difference. He did not claim that a slight majority of the popular vote represents a mandate to lead, even if his predecessor had once made such a claim, then with a slight minority of the popular vote. Instead, President Obama recognizes this nation is divided and seems to accept responsibility to bring us together.

I hope he can. We won’t necessarily agree on entitlements from government today, but I believe the right leader can help us forge a productive and globally competitive nation tomorrow. This is not a time to view a 51 percent majority as a mandate to cater to either red or blue. We must now look for areas upon which both of us can agree. The president must bend and perhaps abandon some of his base and some approaches to which he has been wed as a lifelong citizen of cities. And, individuals like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Majority Leader John Boehner must stop viewing their mission as the destruction of a presidency.

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