from Jonah Goldberg at National Review, Calls for National Unity Mask Ideological Ambition:
But politics in a republic is almost never about unity. Rather, politics is the art of negotiating differences. Democracy is about disagreement, not agreement. When politicians say: “The time for debate is over” or “Let’s put politics aside,” they’re really saying “shut up” to those who disagree.
Americans discard political disagreement for the sake of unity only when confronted with extra-political emergencies. When the country is attacked or when there’s a grave national disaster, the nation rallies around a specific goal. At all other times, a democratic nation is in glorious disagreement about what the government should do. Factions argue for their desired policies against other factions. The place where most of this fighting is supposed to resolve itself is Congress. Sure, presidents can ask Congress for things. But they don’t get it just because they’re president. That’s the stuff of kings and despots, not a nation of laws.
What are presidents supposed to do amid all the bickering? The answer lies in the job title: They’re supposed to preside over it. The president doesn’t get his or her way; the president gets to either sign off on or veto legislation. After that, the job is to faithfully execute the law.