Democratic pollster Peter Hart commented the other day at a Washington seminar that liberal and conservative labels are not playing anymore to the nation's voters. In his view, the real concern among the electorate today is divisiveness. Americans want to come together, to unify, according to Hart.
Americans Coming Together is even the name of one of the new so-called 527 organizations that has raised a few hundred million dollars to run ads to defeat George Bush.
But what exactly do Democrats have in mind when they talk about the unity that supposedly needs to be restored? What is it that they want to unify and how?
John Edwards has given us a fairly definitive picture. He laid it out in a well publicized speech he gave last December in Iowa about the "two Americas" that George Bush has supposedly created. He continued to develop this theme in his address at the Democratic National Convention.
Edwards, who claims to be a uniter, not a divider like our current president, wants to create one America from George Bush's two Americas.
According to Edwards' portrait, all the dynamism is gone from America. Under George Bush, the die has been cast. There is the fat cat America that controls everything. The fat cats get all the tax breaks, their families and children are set for life, and they buy off the politicians in Washington whenever they need anything. And there is victimized America. They pay all the taxes, struggle every day to feed their children, and are ignored by Washington.
There is, as an aside, one obvious question that is hard not to ask. Sen. John Kerry's wealth is estimated at around a half billion dollars. Estimates of Edwards' wealth are around $50 million. To which America do they belong?
Edwards then goes on to talk about how the Kerry/Edwards team will unite us and create one America. His comments on education are a good example of what he has in mind:
"We shouldn't have two public school systems in this country: one for the most affluent communities and one for everybody else .... We can build one public school system that works for all our children. Our plans will reform our schools and raise our standards. We can give our schools the resources they need."
I'm afraid we've been there and done that. We now spend $400 billion a year, around $10,000 per child, trying to educate our children. Is the problem really that schools don't have enough resources? Is there really one system that is appropriate for 50 million children? Who will decide what that system is?
Fifty percent of black children don't make it through school. In a recent Gallup poll only 50 percent of blacks surveyed felt black children had as good an opportunity for a good education as white children.
Does John Edwards really think that he can design a public school system that is equally appropriate for rich white children and for poor black children?
Regardless of questions of income status or race, suppose parents don't want their children in mixed sex education classes? Suppose they don't like the teaching techniques, priorities, or the moral tone of the school their child attends. Will they be dividers rather than uniters if they suggest that they should have control of where to send their kids to school?
It appears that the Kerry/Edwards idea of one America is an America that they design and control. Their campaign is about convincing Americans to elect them and to give them the power to do it. They'll decide who should earn what, where companies should do business, what size fits all health care systems, and what education should be.
We already have plenty of history in our own country and in many places around the world showing that the road to poverty and moral bankruptcy is political control of private lives.
We also have plenty of evidence at this point that the best anti-poverty program is freedom and personal responsibility.
Fortunately, freedom is what unites our country. We are united by the very core principles that enabled John Edwards to rise from a modest background to become one of America's wealthiest men. It is the politics of envy and social engineering that causes divisions in our nation.