America is a commonwealth in trouble if we remain divided. Can we get back to the days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill?

I remember the days of ultra-conservative Republican President Ronald Reagan and super-liberal Democrat House Speaker Tip O’Neill having the most heated debates with each other. They argued over the thorniest… and seemingly insoluble issues facing America.

But, they’d always calm down, listen to each other, give in a little, compromise, and end up passing critical bipartisan legislation that benefited Americans.

That is what “America First” means to me. There are too many political, environmental, social/cultural, religious, and financial issues that divide America and have our political leaders, and ourselves, bickering back and forth. It is impossible to compromise, meet each other halfway and find some middle ground when we’re antagonizing, provoking, physically threatening, and spreading conspiracy theories and lies about each other.

A true democracy cannot survive if we continue in the direction we’re headed. Maybe we could return to the days of compromise by changing ourselves first, from the inside/out?

At the risk of sounding maudlin and gooey, I suggest we ask ourselves some “moral fiber” questions. As an American, what do you want in life? Do you ever think about the contributions you desire to make in the world…the honorable or righteous goals you would like to achieve? What do you like and dislike?

I’m sure Reagan and Tip O’Neill pondered these questions, and discovered they had one thing in common… a love for America. I bet many democrats, republicans, independents, beer-lover’s… whatever party you’re affiliated with, have much in common, too.

I’d enjoy doing an experiment by gathering a group of die-hard democrats and republicans together and have them answer some inward-looking questions. Their answers would not have to be grandiose. They would simply focus on what is sincerely important to them. Perhaps, beyond the bumper-sticker political differences, they’d discover they all had a similar moral compass that’s uniquely American.

Let’s try it out! Sit down and write down what you truly admire in life, what you are motivated to strive for and achieve. Next, pretend it’s your 88th birthday. You are living in a nursing home and spend the time recollecting every meaningful person throughout your life and the role you played with them. Your roles with them may have been father, mother, daughter, son, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, teacher, student, manager, co-worker, child, community servant, neighbor, grandmother, grandfather, in-law, relative, niece, nephew, or cousin.

Suddenly, they all visit at once to give you a surprise birthday party! Now, think about what each of these people would say about you or, better yet, what you would like them to say. Spend some time doing this, then switch back to the “here and now” and do some soul-searching. Ask yourself what differences have you made, or could you make in their lives? What outstanding contributions and commitments can you make now that they won’t forget and will still remember when your age 88? Think about the person you’d like to become and the legacy you’d like to leave behind.

If I read what republicans, democrats, and independents wrote down, I bet I’d find a consistent and unique theme entrenched in many of their answers… ambitions, aspirations, and moral principles that are uniquely American. I don’t think we are all that divided.

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