Basically, at least we Americans throughout our history, have united strongest against an other - an enemy.
Well, human nature being what it is - or at least, *American* human nature being what it is - we achieve "domestic tranquility" by, yep - fighting!
We band together and unite according to party and/or position on the political spectrum - when that subject comes up.
We usually get along as neighbors and friends and coworkers and such. In normal, everyday life, we basically get along - or try to. But politically, we need somethin' to be united against.
And ya wanna know something? The only time (and it was BRIEF - as in, hours maybe up to a day or two) I ever saw the entire country feel like one entity - one united people - at least in my lifetime, was a few minutes after 9am (EDT) on September 11, 2001.
That was one surreal, literally unbelievable mother@#$!^# of a moment, let me tell you.
But as the day went on, with the added responsibility of figuring out how and how much to share with America's kids, it seemed the more we discussed it, the more we were drenched with the often redundant 24/7 news cycle, and the too-easy to exploit images of the first plane hitting the first tower - the more we were parsed and separated into our smaller "tribes".
I admit to having literally felt "the shudders", you know - I mean genuinely uncertain and creeped out, later that night - while driving home from what to me was a day that didn't deviate from the routine aside from shared dropped jaws, shaking heads, and a few tears.
I was driving down my street, and but for 1 or two famillies for whom this has been their custom anyway, there was not ONE house that I could see without an American flag hanging - most of them illuminated.
I don't know why, but in my beloved liberal state of Massachusetts, I felt, at least in my own neighborhood, like I had been branded with a NON-scarlet, but deepest blue letter "L".
I was literally a little anxious about my ponytail, my sexual orientation, my "one world" bumper sticker, my *beliefs* and identity!
So, in the course of a day - I went from feeling like I had been punched in the stomach at the exact same time as every other American, and by nightfall, I felt like it might happen for real because of my leftie aura.
I woke up a little that day.