For about 100 years or so the Pledge of Allegiance seems to have meant something special to all Americans, including those born here and those who immigrated here and those who have led us from the position of president. Sure it has evolved over the years. Sure it was written by a socialist minister. Sure god was added to the recital. None of that matters. The key to me was one word: Indivisible.
Since 1787, the United States has relied on its Constitution and Bill of Rights to share and balance power between its individual state and national interests. This unique approach became known as federalism, which has worked really well for us for centuries, having been only severely tested during our Civil War.
While this system works spectacularly for balancing power, it sometimes is awkward and cumbersome when dealing with crisis situations that require immediate, coordinated, consistent responses on a nationwide basis. We have been lucky since the Civil War that the majority of the crises arose beyond the borders of the United States or did not require a quick response, giving us the ability to dither for some time before settling on a national strategy. Our current crisis, Covid-19, is testing how we react to a crisis that affects all of us, including each of the states and the federal government, at the same time. It is also illuminating the weakness of our process, as each individual state has the right to pursue its own course of action in response to the crisis.
In times like this, only strong leadership at the federal level in coordination with the governors of all the states will provide the optimal solution to this crisis that all residents of the United States need and deserve. Variations in the implementation can have a very deleterious affect, thereby reducing our solution to its least common denominator, better known as its weakest link.
This is where presidential leadership matters the most. And it is what is lacking the most right now. The President seems to be more concerned with getting re-elected than solving the crisis. He is more interested in telling us he has been perfect than admitting he has made mistakes. He is more interested in playing politics that unifying the country to solve the crisis on a national level, going as far as fomenting divisiveness with his messages. Not a recipe for implementing an optimal solution.
Despite the structural framework our founders put in place to balance power across the branches of government, we need to act like one country. We pledge we are indivisible. It is time to act that way.
I welcome your comments.