Civil discourse has been a long-standing tradition in American politics and society. Since the campaign season that began in 2007, civil discourse has suffered a slow and agonizing death. Last night I had an experience that not only infuriated me but led me block someone who had “friended” me on Facebook. It wasn’t that I disagreed with this person’s opinion as much as I objected to personal attacks because I did not share their view of racial relations or economics within the United States.
As we approach both a national election and the Fourth of July, I am thinking about the competing visions of national identity offered by both the Democratic and Republican parties. So far, both the presumptive candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have openly attacked one another, have presented opposite views on national defense, the Affordable Care Act, educational reform, and how to bring jobs from overseas back to the nation. The American voter has been courted with changes to the tax code, free college tuition, and promises to make the nation great again without any real definition of what that would mean. But among all the political discussion and debate, and untouched by either candidate is an issue that predates the Constitution of the United States: will we be a nation under state governance or will all political power be exercised by the national government?