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Divided We Stand, United We Fall

BY Tony Palmeri

The night Scott Walker officially announced his presidential candidacy, I had a dream (nightmare?) I was watching his inaugural address on Fox News in January of 2017. In the dream Walker became the first incoming president to ride a Harley in the inaugural parade. Below are his remarks as they were spoken in my dream:

Chief Justice Roberts, all Real Americans, and others: today we continue an inaugural tradition as old as the Republic itself. What we do today is possible only because our Founders had the wisdom and courage to articulate and fight for Big and Bold ideas.

I thank President Obama for his service. I also thank him for resisting calls from so called environmentalists that he boycott this inauguration due to my pledge to make good on my campaign promise to issue as my first Executive order the removal of solar panels from the White House. Thank you President Obama.

Wisdom in our time requires recognizing that our 21st century challenges are not significantly different from what our Founders faced in the 18th. Political courage in our time requires the audacity to assert and fight for 18th century solutions to 21st century problems.

You see our Founders did not bother with climate change, but they did change the political climate from hot tyranny to cool liberty. So much did they love liberty that they were willing to legally define nonwhite southern workers as 3/5 of a person to get it. That controversial 3/5 compromise was what I call 18th century cool; a Big and Bold idea proving that our Founders respected the sovereignty of each of the 13 original states more than they did any dictates from Washington.

Big and Bold ideas like the 3/5 compromise, or the Manifest Destiny resettlement of natives to make room for our Real American ancestors, or the expansion of American power and influence abroad, or President Reagan’s refusal to back down in his confrontation with arrogant striking air traffic controllers, or my own state’s abridgment of the tyranny of collective bargaining, have been lambasted by critics as divisive. Such critics do not understand the profound role division plays in accelerating the progress of the states.

Indeed, our Founders and all Real American leaders since are often pictured as standing for some kind of vague principle of national unity. You don’t need a college degree to know what’s wrong with that picture: vague unity is undependable, puts mushy cooperation ahead of vigorous competition, and ultimately makes us weak.

Division is dependable. Division works. It creates a critical mass of US always wary of and willing to fight the attempts of THEM to transform our traditional American values.

Our first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, is a remarkable example of a decisively divisive leader frequently miscast as obsessed with unity. Two years before becoming president, Lincoln said, “I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.” Yet he then went on to become the most divisive chief executive in history, presiding over a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of Real Americans over an issue that deeply divided the nation for many generations.

What the Civil War could not kill was the 18th century idea of state sovereignty. That is why today I say ask not what your country can for you, ask what your country can do for your state.

Does your state want to define what marriage is and who can participate in that most sacred of unions? You now have a well-wisher in Washington.

Does your state want to be freed from onerous federal regulations of air and water quality that degrade the desire of job creators to compete in the global economy? You now have a well-wisher in Washington.

Does your state want complete control over voting rights, including the power to pass the strictest possible voter identification laws? You now have a well-wisher in Washington.

Does your state want to expand gun ownership rights to any and all people the state sees fit? You now have a well-wisher in Washington.

As regards to foreign policy, there too we call on the 18th century for guidance. In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson condemns King George III for not protecting the colonists against what he called “the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

Today’s merciless Indian Savages are ISIS and their sympathizers. Our administration will reject any attempts to rationalize ISIS as somehow a product of the actions of American behavior in the Middle East or some other alleged injustice that creates terrorism. Our administration will stand for the principle that terrorism is caused by terrorists. Period. We will wage a liberty crusade ready and able to pit our well-armed 18th century principles against ISIS’s twisted dreams of a 7th century style caliphate. We will win. They will lose.

Will the liberty crusade be divisive? Yes, as will our Big and Bold domestic reforms. But fear not, because following in the tradition of our most noble ancestors, we draw inspiration from the knowledge that Divided We Stand, United We Fall.

Thank you and God Bless America.

Tony Palmeri (palmeri.tony@gmail.com) is a professor of communication studies at UW Oshkosh.

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