To the Editor:
When we say the pledge of allegiance we dedicate ourselves to the Republic and the principles that undergird its foundation. These founding principles include: freedom of speech and press, equal justice under the law, no person is above the law, and the power of the people is second to none.
I am very concerned these days that America is separating into two nations. As President Lincoln once intoned; we are a house divided. Only that which divides us is our political parties, as opposed to the general issue of slavery.
We are becoming two warring camps, one blue (Democrat) and one red (Republican), wherein loyalty is demanded from within one's tribe and disparagement is reserved for the opposing tribe along with their political views. However, Lincoln believed that which united us as Americans was greater than that which divided us. His leadership preserved the union.
Throughout history, these principles have defined who we are as Americans. That is what makes our nation great! To disregard these principles by placing loyalty to party over loyalty to nation is far from being patriotic; it is a betrayal of what makes our nation exceptional.
Our democratic republic is a do-it-yourself form of government. It is not easy. It can be messy; and requires that its citizens be credibly informed and participate civilly in the discourse of our electoral process. Further, to become a more perfect union, we, as a people, must always strive to place our nation's principles above self-interest.
At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked if the nation had created a republic or monarchy? He replied, "a Republic, if you can keep it!"
Our nation stands at a crossroads. We must answer this question in the affirmative by re-dedicating ourselves to the founding principles which urge us to rise above partisan politics and put our nation first.
Senator James C. Sheehan
District 36 (Narragansett and North Kingstown)