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Uniting a house divided

Uniting a house divided
© Greg Nash

It may be fitting that the presidential election was finally called in favor of Joe BidenJoe BidenMilitary must better understand sexual assaults to combat them The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling MORE after Pennsylvania’s vote count replaced an early Trump lead with a narrow Biden win. Fitting because Philadelphia, despite its modern day move into the deep blue political column, was all red, white and blue 240 years ago when a Declaration was penned and independence declared.

Yet a more apt metaphor lies 140 miles west of there, in the town of Gettysburg, where the survival of the Union was tested in the deadliest war on home soil in American history. With names enshrined in lore — Little Round Top, Cemetery Ridge, Pickett’s Charge — it represented a national threat greater than today’s cyber-incursions from China, electoral intrusions from Russia, or nuclear natterings from North Korea.

While memory may only recall winners and losers, history records what led to it and, more importantly, what followed. That’s why Abraham Lincoln, understanding the certain aftershocks of a war among brothers, moved to bring the nation together knowing full well the New Testament’s warning, “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand."

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Today across America, there is a feeling of relief, that the message sent was received loud and clear.

We like the idea of checks and balances to avoid self-imposed tyranny, where one side writes all the checks without any pretense to balance. The nation, built on courage and bolstered by acts of compromise, was in no mood to retire a president and simultaneously reject the American way of life.

Democrats worried that four more years of the incumbent might further fray American relationships abroad and social ones here at home. Republicans were concerned that the progressive fringe, left unfettered, would weaken patient choice in health care, military strength in foreign relations, and the notion that a nation of borders should be willing to defend them.

The rest of America closer to the center line were fearful that too much of either would not be healthy, that the way to remedy the biggest challenges of the day was not by seeing who could complain the most and yell the loudest, but rather understand the most and speak with measured voice.

In a nation of vocal extremes, where the media too often inflames division rather than collective action, Americans — separately yet collectively — chose a more promising path.

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The lessons from this past week are clear. The universe is sending us a message. Neither party will be given a mandate. Don’t take the media as gospel. Listen to yourself and to your fellow citizens. Your nation is composed of different opinions, different ways of securing the common good. Research them, understand them and respect them. Resist those who want to shortcut enlightenment by shaming those they fear and “cancelling” those they reject.

After all, if we don’t govern together, we don’t govern for all — and those in power won’t be governing for long.

Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Short of a January surprise, the U.S. Senate will maintain a GOP majority. The Supreme Court has a conservative bent, the Congress a more liberal one. This is the very definition of split government. Thus far, judging by public reactions and a soaring stock market, that’s becoming more popular by the day.

It took generations for this nation to fully heal from the Civil War, from wounds mortal and moral, from being more afraid to venture forward than stumble back. Today the challenges we face are far too real, and the consequences all too consequential, to retreat to respective corners.

It’s time to reset the nation’s GPS to a location where leaders are committed and citizens are inspired. We have arrived at a waypoint to do just that.

It’s time to move forward, America, and fight.

For all of us.

Adam Goodman is a national Republican media strategist and columnist. He is a partner at Ballard Partners in Washington, D.C. He is also the first Edward R. Murrow senior fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3

Philip Levine, a businessman and a Democrat, served two terms as mayor of Miami Beach and ran for governor of Florida in 2018.