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It’s not about just the red and the blue

I’m still trying to process my thoughts following the events in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.

I know not everyone who attended the rally that morning of President Donald Trump were involved in the raid on and ransacking of the U.S. Capitol. I also know those individuals do not necessarily speak on behalf of all Republicans in our nation.

It goes the same in the other direction, too. Those who started massive fires and pillaged stores, police stations and other buildings during the BLM demonstrations last summer did not represent the entire movement, or necessarily the Democratic party.

Here is the problem, and it’s become an even bigger one than we probably ever imagined, we, as a people, have allowed ourselves to be so enthralled by labels that we are either unwilling or unable to try and work toward any semblance of common good.

We have placed politicians and political ideas at such a lofty point in our society that we have forgotten the core point of this grand experiment we call America.

When George Washington served as the first president of the United States, he was reported to have pushed against the idea of political parties, warning that they would, eventually, lead to a group or a single individual being able to gather all of the power and subvert the will of the people.

We’re seeing that more and more with each passing year, as our two major political parties battle more for power than to actually serve the nation. The pendulum continues to swing farther out one way, convincing the people that in order to save the union we have to go farther in the other direction. We have begun worshiping those who are elected to represent us, looking to them as saviors instead of servants.

The well-being of the United States of America comes from the will of the people, not a group telling us what our will should be. They are elected to represent all who live here, not just a particular group holding onto the same umbrella or waving a similar banner.

We need to remember that before we lose everything.

According to the tales surrounding our nation’s founding, at some point after the earliest framings of our government began to take shape, Benjamin Franklin was asked what type of government we would have. His supposed response was to say it would be a republic, “if you can keep it.”

He understood the fragility of any government and the importance of having a steady hand guiding it.

Another of Franklin’s quotes, with which I was not as familiar, echoed those ideas, and should have served as a warning of giving an individual or a political party too much power. Shortly after Washington was elected as our first president, in a method quite different than is done today, Franklin offered his thoughts, saying “The first man put at the helm will be a good one. Nobody knows what sort may come afterwards…The executive will be always increasing here, as elsewhere, till it ends in a monarchy.”

Are we heading in that direction? Are we heading for something else? I don’t know the answer. But we, as a people, need to do some serious soul searching and decide where we want to be, if not for us than for future generations.

If this nation falls, it will not be a failure of the Democrats or the Republicans. It will be a failure of the Americans.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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