If nothing else, Sunday night’s town hall debate illustrated what this election season has showcased from the beginning. The United States of America are far from united.
The divisiveness exhibited on that stage in St. Louis is reflected in the American people.
From Donald Trump’s ramblings about Islamophobia and Hillary Clinton’s emails to Clinton discussing healthcare and defeating ISIS, the range of ideas that were laid out in those 90 minutes represent the beliefs that divide the American people.
This division in our country is anything but new.
This summer, I listened to the “Hamilton” soundtrack for the first time, and I since have developed a borderline obsession with the musical, despite that I have yet to see it. While it was the catchy hip-hop songs and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s genius that lured me, the fact that it is almost entirely historically accurate has kept my interest.
I seem to pick up a new fact nearly every time I listen to the album, but there is one theme that always sticks out. Our Founding Fathers faced the same divisiveness in their beliefs as politicians do today.
Southern Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Madison argued for small government — just as Republicans do today — and fought against Alexander Hamilton’s vision of a strong central government that would be necessary to establish his complex financial system that has supported our nation from its inception.
Jefferson and Hamilton disagreed on aiding the French during the French Revolution. There are discrepancies today between politicians over who we should aid and which wars we should involve ourselves in.
Hamilton and John Adams were both members of the Federalist Party, but they were also enemies. Now, during this election season, more than ever, we are seeing this strong disagreement among members of the same party, too.
We idolize the founding fathers in our history classes, not fully recognizing the mistakes they made and that are still made today. Our country was founded by a group of men with conflicting ideals, fostering over two centuries of a divided nation.
And the best part about “Hamilton” is not how entertaining and genius it is, but rather that it’s catching the attention of all generations, especially children, and giving us the history lesson that we all need.
Education is essential to a healthy democracy, and many Americans are not well versed in our country’s history. Learning the roots of our political differences may not lead us to overcoming them, but it might help us learn to empathize with those who have differing beliefs.
While the founding fathers did eventually split into two separate factions, they recognized they would not be able to govern without compromise.
For example, as documented in “Hamilton’s” “The Room Where it Happens,” Jefferson and Madison finally agreed to support Hamilton’s financial plan in exchange for moving the nation’s capital to the South.
Today, Congress consistently fails to compromise as politicians continue to put their party’s interests ahead of those of the American people, leaving our country in a political gridlock time and time again.
And while the political climate of our country is increasingly polarizing our population, it is also leaving many in the middle that don’t strictly fall to either side.
Many Americans, myself included, feel unrepresented by this year’s presidential candidates and the policies of both parties. This election, instead of going to the polls to vote for a candidate they fully support, many feel as if they are just choosing the lesser of two evils.
Although it may be too late to mend the divisiveness caused by this election season, it’s not too late to learn from our history to avoid repeating our mistakes in the future.
Of course we will never live in a perfect world where people easily overcome their differences, but it is essential to our future that we learn to respect each other and compromise.
After all, one of the principles our Constitution was formed on is to promote the general welfare of the people of the United States.
Casey Farmer, ’18, is an associate sports editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected].
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