Indivisible is hard

Franklin, Tennessee was the site of the most recent convention of the National Newspaper Association. On the first full morning of the convention, the NNA has a long tradition of calling the roll of the states, and it was my thrill to carry in the Texas flag. Throughout the next two days, the flags of all 50 states lined the sides of the ballroom.

The roll call follows an Honor Guard, the Presentation of Colors and the Pledge of Allegiance.

I have been reciting the Pledge of Allegiance for more than 50 years, and I know the man who led the pledge that morning has also. But when you get up in front of 700 or so people, your brain will sometimes lock up on you, and usually at the most inopportune moment.

So when the leader of the pledge finished saying “one nation under God,” he skipped to “with liberty and justice for all.”

It happens.

The occasion of “indivisible” taking a hike led me to think, “there has to be a column in there somewhere.”

My thought process led to the current political climate in the United States, and we are certainly divided.

There are people whose job it is, for example, to take every single thing our president does and paint it into the most negative picture imaginable, and then to disseminate that to their audience. The negative picture goes out via all sorts of media.

It has been done to President Obama, and it was done to President Bush before him.

And so, there are two audiences out there who have extremely divergent views of our two most recent presidents.

That, I thought, might be a good direction to take a column about “indivisible” being omitted from the Pledge.

As this is being written, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are preparing for their third debate. All I can think of is how disappointed I am that, in the greatest nation on earth, all we can find to talk about in selecting our next leader is whether Bill Clinton or Donald Trump is a bigger sleaze when it comes to women.

Opinions in our country are sharply divided.

And so, I thought, that might be a good direction to take on a column about the inadvertent removal of the word “indivisible.”

There is, in fact, lots of fodder for talking about how divided our nation is.

But there are a couple of other pictures I can’t seem to shake. They both involve the same two families: George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The first picture was at the service for the slain Dallas police officers, and the second was at the opening of the Museum of African American History and Culture, a project started under Bush’s leadership, and concluded under Obama. Both events showed the warm relationship that exists between the Obama and the Bush families.

Why, I wondered, should this be the case? Politically, they are night and day.

But, politics aside, I realized you can tell a lot about people by looking at their kids – not 100 percent, but certainly a good barometer.

Looking at their families, I have to conclude that the Obamas and the Bushes are fundamentally decent people. Politics aside, something tells me they have a lot in common, and their fundamental decency draws them to each other.

Indivisible? Maybe, maybe not.

But it can be.

It’s up to fundamentally decent people on both sides of the political gulf to make it happen.

 

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