The real question to me today is not, “Is this the worst partisan divide we’ve ever had or is it as bad as any other?” but it is the nature of the partisan divide that exists in this country today. I think the “partisan divide,” you can simplify it. I think you could really cut to the chase and boil it all down by saying that the nature of the partisan divide today is, on the left you have a significant number of people who do not believe in this country. They just don’t. They find fault with this country. They are trying desperately to change this country to accommodate whatever their version of values or whatever. They are not traditionalists. They’re not interested in the past. They’re not interested in the institutions and traditions that made the country great, such as the founding documents. They are more in favor of changing the Constitution. They’re more in favor of blurring it and watering it down because it stands in the way of what they want. The people on the other side of the divide — you could call them conservatives, just for the sake of this conversation — are actually formed, their foundation is the Constitution, and the Founding Documents, and the traditions, and the institutions that made this country great.
So you have — on one side as a simplification — you have on the one side, people attempting to save the country and grow it and increase its power and greatness for themselves and their children and future generations, and you have another group of people which really has no use for the country as it is. They don’t like it. They look at it as an obstacle. They look it as an impediment to things. You have to look no further than how the two different divides in this country look at American foreign policy and America’s place in the world. It’s very cut-and-dried there. The people on the left in this country hold this view that America’s in trouble, America’s the problem. We got to change the Constitution, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Basically they don’t like the country. I’m not going to say hate, they hate America, I don’t want to say that. It’s thrown around a lot, but they don’t like it, and they will do whatever they can to weaken it, and some of them are in positions of high elective office in the Democratic Party, and some of them would very well turn over the national defense of this country to international organizations like the U.N.
They would gladly do it. People would feel guilty, whatever the emotion that causes them to feel uncomfortable about the supremacy of this country. That to me is a serious partisan divide. Whether it’s as bad as anyone else’s or any other time, really, to me doesn’t matter, except in the sense that you say, “Okay, is this partisan divide going to break us and tear us apart?” No, it will not, because as this election showed, traditional and institutional values that define this country and make it great triumph on their own. They triumph with their exposure. These institutions and traditions and values, if you will, triumph just by their very exhibition, just by people living them. You don’t have to go out and sell them. You don’t have to go out and convince or persuade people because the living and the setting an example does all of that. It is the other side trying to tear that down that can’t be honest about what they’re doing; they have to go about it in circuitous ways to try to fool people. They’re the ones that are not going to succeed at this, and the more radical and extreme that they get in trying to advance their agenda, the more marginalized they’re going to become. To me, there’s no contest here.
Now, for all of this to triumph, it does depend on a leader who exhibits this stuff. I mean, there’s no question about that, and if not a leader, a significant number of prominent people who exhibit this devotion and this understanding to the founding documents, the Constitution, the traditions and institutions that have made this country great and will sustain it — and the reason why we’ve survived, by the way, as long as we have, as prosperously as we have, is precisely the way we were set up and designed — and the people that want to tear that down, I just don’t see them succeeding. You know me, I’m an eternal optimist, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near that kind of partisan divide, because I think the other people on the other side of the partisan divide are in the midst of a self-annihilation. I think they’re plunging into depths from which they may never recover, which is, to me, only natural. You might look at time, age-old values, wrong versus right: wrong always catches up with you at some point. When you’re wrong, it always catches up. It may be years, it may be months, it may be tomorrow. When you’re wrong, it always catches up with you. When you’re right, you’re right — and being right and the right thing to do is far more powerful than people who just want to be wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong all the time and that’s who they are. So I’m not worried about it is the short answer. Bottom line.