The deep polarization of America is not a mere perception; it’s a stark reality. The red versus blue divide, a recurring theme in our history, is a testament to the deep-seated differences between conservatives and liberals.  

Yet, the once vibrant Federalist versus Republican debate has veered off course. The air is no longer filled with the sparks of progressive conversations and policies. The very essence of progressivism, the art of moving the conversation forward, has been forgotten, leaving us in a state of stagnation.  

Instead, we are left with a stark divide similar to that on an athletic field between bitter rivals. The game is no longer about compromise and productivity but winning at all costs.

And this is where it feels different.

The American divide feels more coordinated and intentional than the simple presence of honest political and theological differences. The robust debates over differing issues, with both parties seeking to move the conversation forward, are long gone.  

The debates now seem more about getting the best sound bite for social media or destroying opponents with targeted barbs. The partisan divide has grown so intense that foreign agitators seem to have figured out the best way to harm America is to get us fighting among ourselves.

Russian President Vladimir Putin certainly understands this point. His illegal invasion of Ukraine has caused deep division on how much support America should provide. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping understands this strategy as well. Why else would there be so much controversy over the phone app TikTok as a data breach?

Other nations are noticing America’s weakness as well. The current debate surrounding the war in Gaza demonstrates how quickly foreign circumstances can devolve into domestic wedge issues.  

In his 1858 acceptance speech for the Republican Party’s Senate nomination for Illinois, Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus when addressing the deep divisions within America regarding slavery: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.”

While Lincoln emphasized domestic issues, the premise is relevant to other matters as well. America has faced significant threats from abroad, but the most dangerous enemy—the enemy that might be about our destruction—lies within the hearts and minds of every American.

If foreign adversaries understand this reality and begin to leverage it, the most dangerous weapon of all could be unleashed: America’s inability to work through differences to advance the conversation and produce productive and just policies.  

Americans need to begin listening more and speaking less (and yes, I get the irony of me writing those words). However, during the latest controversy in Gaza, I have worked hard at listening more than speaking.  

Undoubtedly, many more qualified journalists offer analysis and commentary on the situation. However, the most helpful voices have come from those confessing its complexity and nuances.  

Undoubtedly, an allotted amount of blame can be leveled regarding the attacks on October 7, 2023, and the disproportionate response afterward. Hamas indeed bears responsibility, but so does the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  

The question now persists, “How can we find a solution that returns Israeli hostages and stops the killing of thousands of Palestinians?”  

I admit I do not have definitive answers to those questions. Still, the American experience might end if we cannot find a better way to converse about divisive matters.

As Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matthew 12:25).

If America’s adversaries and those looking to leverage American influence begin to realize our greatest weakness is our growing partisan polarization, America could be doomed without a shot fired from a foreign hostile.

Hopefully, America’s better angels will prevail, returning the country to its original motto, E pluribus unum – out of many, one.  

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