Jonah Goldberg

Well, that country never existed. In 1969, this country was torn apart by race riots, anti-war protests and campus demonstrations. A year earlier, Democrat Lyndon Johnson didn't run for reelection because America was so divided by his presidency. If liberals cared so much about "unity" they would be nostalgic for the 1950s, not the 1960s. But that wasn't a period when liberals felt like they were winning, so it doesn't count.

- John Edwards' "Two Americas." The millionaire trial lawyer turned senator regularly declares how "tired" he is of living in "two Americas," one for the "privileged" and one for "the rest of us." That's nice. I'm tired of living in the America where paper cuts are still possible. But there's more of a chance to banish paper cuts than there is to get rid of "privilege." Even if you improved the standard of living of every "unprivileged" person in America by, say, 500 percent you'd still have some folks - like trial lawyers - doing much better than others.

- John Kerry's "wedge issues." It's really not fair to pin this on Kerry, since every leading Democrat also whines about wedge issues. But Kerry's the frontrunner, and he drones on about wedge issues more than most. Regardless, the only reliable definition of the term I've ever run across goes something like this: "Wedge issues are issues that work poorly for Democratic politicians." "Important issues" are issues that help Democrats.

Look: Americans are divided because they disagree with each other. That is the American constant, and, frankly, I like it that way. Sure, not every disagreement in America is a healthy one. But that's no reason to gloss over real differences with silly cliches.

However, if you think unity is the highest political value, ask yourself this: Would you rather have national agreement on issues you fundamentally oppose or would you rather have divisiveness with a chance for victory another day? If you answered honestly, stop complaining about America being divided.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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