National identity is something that evolves over time. I am not sure we have a national identity today that anything near a majority of Americans could identity. What are our shared values? When is the last time we had a national identity that most Americans identified with?
Politicians have historically tried to inspire the best in people. The best politicians have looked at the world of their time, seen that changes had happened, and moved the national identity ever so slightly into the correct direction. Radical change is seldom the best thing except for in times of great turmoil.
It feels to me like modern US politics has nothing to do with national identity, currently. When Barack Obama was elected president and subsequently reelected, it felt like as a nation our identity was one of inclusion and hard work. For those who believed in that, the current identity feels like one of hatred and selfishness. The identity under Hillary Clinton would have been co-opted from Obama’s vision. Obviously, too few people thought that vision was the America they wanted.
How do we change the national identity back to one that we can be proud of as a whole country? I think, first, we need to identity when the last time we had a national identity that the majority of Americans could identify with. Not having been alive in the early 60s, I wonder if that time of coalesced national identity was under Kennedy. We had a shared enemy. We had a shared purpose. We had a shared mission.
Obviously, not everyone thought that time was exemplary. I do wonder if that was the time in the modern United States that we were the closest to having a unified national identity.
With so many issues that are polarized in ways that seem intractable, I wonder what it would take to resolve them. It’s been my goal for some time to find common ground on every single one of these issues and figure out how to get a significant majority to agree. It’s very difficult, but I am going to keep exploring.