I'm reading A Patriot's History now, and learning everything I never knew from American history. Somehow I missed a lot of important stuff in my school years. For example, I knew that Benedict Arnold was a traitor, but in reading this book I learned exactly what he did.
Another thing I am learning is that the partisan spirit has always been part of American politics. Last year I read Washington's Farewell Address, in which he warns of the dangers of opposing parties seizing political power from one other in alternating elections. On that basis, I assumed that after the Constitution was ratified in 1788, everyone got along like one big happy family.
We speak of our "Founding Fathers," and what they would say about various issues today. What I am learning about our history is that different founding fathers had different (strong) opinions about how government should work, and what government should do. We have always had opposing points of view, struggling mightily with each other.
What really amazes me is that both the Jeffersonian and the Washingtonian camps have left important marks on our history and traditions. From today's vantage point, it seems like we received the best from both extremes. If either party in the country's infancy had had full sway, our country would not be nearly as great as it is today.
So, my illusion that political fighting is something new is just that--an illusion. Now I'm trying to wrap my head around what really makes our country great. Why did we get the best from both sides in the controversies? What if each side had left us with its worst ideas?
The more I read, the more I see God's fingerprints on the history of this nation. Yes, we had egregious faults, especially allowing slavery anywhere, any time. But somehow, God, I believe, has really blessed us. And I think he has blessed us for a reason. Why has he so blessed me that I could be a part of this nation? I'm trying to find out.