The death of Nelson Mandela prompted an out-pouring of eloquent tributes that hardly needs a contribution from RINOcracy.com. It seems to us, however, that Mr. Mandela’s life and achievements have a message for America in 2013 that is worth pausing to note.
The adjective of choice for our political leaders, and we who elect them, is too often “polarized.” And it is often accompanied by a shrug, as if polarization not only accounts for stalemate in Washington, but is more or less a fact of nature about which nothing can be done. Yet consider South Africa. Surely our polarization, real as it may be, is far less pervasive and poisonous than the polarization of apartheid and its aftermath. Nelson Mandela, however, did not accept polarization as a rationale for inaction. On the contrary, he saw it as a challenge to be met, and reconciliation as an imperative. Not everything he attempted may have worked and some of the things that did work may not have lasted. Without question, however, his spirit of reconciliation was the engine that allowed his country to survive.
We might well profit from emulating Nelson Mandela to embrace the idea of reconciliation. That does not mean abandoning political principles or attempting to reach agreements at all costs. It does mean recognizing that political opponents are no less sincere in advocating ideas that, by their lights, are in the best interests of the country, and making the “search for common ground” more than a stale cliché. And if our problems sometimes seem daunting, and they do, perhaps we might think of the problems Nelson Mandela faced and the spirit in which he addressed them.