- Peter Francis Fenwick
The burning of Atlanta by General Sherman in 1864 is seared into local memory. They still refer to it as "the recent unpleasantness". Healing can take a long time.
Once again, America is beset with divisions as serious and heartfelt as at the time of the Civil War.
In a positive start, President Biden has pledged to heal America. It is a gargantuan task. His nation is torn apart with apparently irreconcilable differences.
To succeed, he will need to reach out to the millions of disaffected who voted Republican. On 21 January 2021, Dr. Warren Farrell in conversation with John Anderson, suggested a listening tour of the red states. Dr. Farrell has years of professional experience dealing with relationships. "Healers", he said, "have to start by listening."
The President will be aided in his project if the Republican Party can restructure itself around decent, articulate, intelligent, young men and women of integrity. Ben Sasse, the Senator from Nebraska, is leading the charge.
In an article in The Atlantic on 16th January 2021, Sasse writes that:
"Now is the time to decide what this party is about. …
If the GOP is to have a future outside the fever dreams of internet trolls, we have to call out falsehoods and conspiracy theories unequivocally. We have to repudiate people who peddle those lies. We also have to show a healthier path forward. The frustrations that caused so many people to turn in desperate directions for a political voice are not going away when Trump leaves the White House for Mar-a-Lago, because deception and demagoguery are the inevitable consequences of a politics that is profoundly, systematically dysfunctional. We must begin by asking how we got to such a discontented place, where we are mired in lies, rage, and now violence."
Sasse has written two books:
The Vanishing American Adult, and
Them: Why we hate each other and how to heal.
In the latter, he concludes that:
"America needs you to love your neighbor and connect with your community. Fixing what's wrong with the country depends on it."
America is a strong nation with sound institutions and many fine people. I think it will survive its current difficulties and with goodwill on all sides the recent unpleasantness will pass.
Ben Sasse has been the Republican Senator from Nebraska since 2015.
He holds a bachelor's degree in government from Harvard, Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from St. John's College Oxford, and master's and doctorate degrees in American history from Yale.
Prior to entering politics, he worked for the Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Company.
During the first and second terms of President George W. Bush (2001–09), he worked in the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security before becoming assistant secretary for planning and evaluation (2007–09) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
He also taught at the University of Texas until becoming president (2009–14) of Midland University, a private school in his hometown of Fremont.
Ben is married to Melissa. They have three children, a son Breck and two daughters Elizabeth and Alexandra.