Having just returned to the Midwest from a vacation to the Northeastern part of the United States, I have seen firsthand, the differences in singular parts of the country. Now, I have traveled to many states and cities in my life, but I never looked at those places through the lenses that I currently do as a political journalist. As if you did not know already, the U.S. is vastly different in its political makeup when you travel from state to state, and even from city to city. These differences can be seen on the various red and blue maps that you see every election: Large areas of red (Republican) in the Central and Midwest, with lots of blue (Democrat) on the coasts and near large cities.
But you already know that, unless you live under a rock. You probably already know the phrase “E Pluribus Unum”. You have definitely seen it before. Grab some coins from your pocket and look closely. Pull out a bill from your wallet. It’s been on all U.S. money as the traditional national motto (officially “In God We Trust” is the national motto) since 1782. You will also see it on the Great Seal of the United States across the scroll in the eagle’s beak. But have you ever wondered what it means? And more importantly, why?
E Pluribus Unumis a latin phrase that means “Out of many, one”. It’s origins trace back to the 13 colonies that joined together to form a new nation, but it’s sentiments remain true today. Out of many different people who make up a country, we are one. From New York to Arkansas, Texas to California, Maine to Minnesota, Washington to Colorado, Florida to Illinois and every state in between, we are many different people with many different ideas, but we are all brought together under 1 flag, 1 anthem, 1 president, 1 nation.
We are 328 million individuals, who are one as a nation. While we have our own religions, our own political beliefs, our own worldviews, we are one as a nation. We are Americans. You may be a Democrat or a Republican, a male or a female, a Christian or a Muslim, a Native American or an African American, we all lay our heads down at night under the same flag, with the same protections that countless men and women gave their lives to provide.
At the beginning of the U.S. Capitol tour in Washington, D.C., you begin by watching a video entitled “Out of Many, One”. This video was produced to show the struggles that our founders had to overcome to begin and sustain this great nation. At the end of the film, I was left with a desire for all of our congressmen and women to watch this video at least once a year. I fear that we have gone past the idea that we are all one and are heading down a rabbit hole full of snakes.
No more do we see a commonality amongst the people. We no longer see our neighbors as our fellow American, but we see them as our “crazy Hillary-loving neighbor”, or the “garbage house with a Gadsen flag”. We are becoming a nation of individuals who may join to an individual group, but searches out other groups that they are against. The hate runs deep. Antifa members are attacking rallies of groups they disagree with, white supremacists are shooting black people in churches, and Neo-Nazi’s are running over people with their cars.
No one in politics has seemed to help on these fronts. From the current President’s tweets, to his 2016 opponent’s comments on deplorables, to many people in Congress, the fires of division are constantly stoked. The left side of the aisle is screaming at the right side of the aisle, and the right side is screaming back. Right now, it seems as if it would be more appropriate to have “E Pluribus Divisus” as our national motto.
I would suggest that at the beginning of the next State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, President Trump lowers the lights and brings in a giant, flatscreen TV for all members of Congress and everyone watching live around the world to see the 13 minute clip, “Out of Many, One.” Maybe, just maybe, some will get the message that life isn’t all about being a donkey or an elephant, but it’s being united, together as one America. Rather than shouting in your neighbors ear with a bullhorn, sit down and have a cup of good coffee (sorry Starbucks, you’re out) and listen to each other. You don’t have to agree on one thing. But maybe by listening, you can at least come to understand the positions of someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with. Maybe we can learn to come to a compromise where we both get what we want. Maybe, out of the many different types of people that call America home, we can be one.