Why America Always Has Been (and Always Will be) Divided

Protestors face off against Baton Rouge's heavily militarized poice force folowing the shooting of Alton Sterling.

Protesters face off against Baton Rouge’s heavily militarized police force following the shooting of Alton Sterling.

On the evening of July 27, 2004, during a steaming hot summer in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, the junior senator from Illinois took the stage at the Democratic Party’s national convention and delivered one of the most important speeches in modern political history. Though the convention’s focus was to anoint the hapless John Kerry as the party’s standard-bearer for what became a futile effort to boot President George W. Bush from the White House, the convention’s keynote speaker focused less on an uncertain present and more on a hopeful future.

That keynote speaker — future President Barack Obama — delivered an address squarely aimed at undermining the toxic national divisiveness that defined America during the Bush years. In perhaps the defining moment of his political career, Obama insisted that, “there is not a liberal America and a conservative America β€” there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America β€” there’s the United States of America.”Β Twelve years later, in the twilight of President Obama’s second term in the White House, some think that America is more divided than ever.

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