Our Divided American House

The peaceful transfer of political power in this country is taken as a given and is rightly considered a distinguishing characteristic of American governance. Not one of the presidential Inauguration Days that occur every four years has ever been marred by violence and only once, when Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office, was the use of violence threatened.

It cannot be said, however, that political power is always transferred tranquilly. After the “stolen election” of 1824, Andrew Jackson was a harsh and relentless critic of the administration of John Quincy Adams who Jackson believed had conspired with Henry Clay to win the presidency in the House of Representatives. This criticism apparently paved the way for his election in 1828. Outgoing President Buchanan handed the reins of government peacefully to incoming President Abraham Lincoln but voters in Southern states and many in the Northern ones as well did not react peaceably to this development.

In the aftermath of the 2000 election, the graceless Al Gore refused to concede the election. Instead he pursued a highly suspect attempt to change the vote count on the advice of his campaign chair Bill Daley who learned all about such political shenanigans growing up in Chicago. What ensued in Florida and eventually at the Supreme Court led to the widespread belief on the political left that George Bush stole the election. Despite ample evidence to the contrary, the left clings, perhaps willfully, to the belief that the Bush presidency is illegitimate.

Consequently, the political left, which clearly now includes the mainstream American media, has stubbornly refused to yield political power without protest, choosing instead to undermine the Bush presidency at every turn. They chose to not oppose Bush solely with reasonable debate and political maneuvering. Instead the left has sought to deny him the exercise of his constitutionally conferred power to, for example, conduct a war and appoint judges to the bench. After all, he was selected not elected.

The nation today is a house divided. Not just evenly divided on nearly every important political issue but divided because Democrats refused for six years to be bound by the political decisions of a Republican led government. Abraham Lincoln said, when the country was evenly divided over slavery, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”  How right he was. Not wanting to be bound by the political decisions of their countrymen, eleven states left Union and took their political power with them.

It is inconceivable that our modern day problems will result in armed conflict among citizens. The house won’t fall that way. But a divided house, a weakened house, can fall if attacked by our enemies on the outside. 

Writing about the Democrats return to power in The American Spectator, Lawrence Henry articulated what conservatives believe. 
“That is where we are. The electorate has bought it, and, if we believe in our way of government, that is what we must accept [emphasis added]. 

But for how long will conservatives and Republicans gallantly accept such results when Democrats and the political left eschew such notions? If in the next Congress Democrats strip the President of his war making power by defunding the war, will Republicans retaliate by filibustering any and all pieces of legislation? Can we afford the resulting paralysis at a time when enemies, who may be armed with nuclear weapons, have promised our destruction?

George Will observed that the problem with Iraq’s attempts to form a functioning government is “a dearth of the trust and good will and sheer human capital required for democratic governance.” It would not be far off the mark to say the same of American governance.

We Americans on the left and the right need to work on that: building trust and goodwill. If that sounds utterly distasteful to you, trying using your instinct for survival to help you overcome it. 
The peaceful transfer of political power in this country is taken as a given and is rightly considered a distinguishing characteristic of American governance. Not one of the presidential Inauguration Days that occur every four years has ever been marred by violence and only once, when Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office, was the use of violence threatened.

It cannot be said, however, that political power is always transferred tranquilly. After the “stolen election” of 1824, Andrew Jackson was a harsh and relentless critic of the administration of John Quincy Adams who Jackson believed had conspired with Henry Clay to win the presidency in the House of Representatives. This criticism apparently paved the way for his election in 1828. Outgoing President Buchanan handed the reins of government peacefully to incoming President Abraham Lincoln but voters in Southern states and many in the Northern ones as well did not react peaceably to this development.

In the aftermath of the 2000 election, the graceless Al Gore refused to concede the election. Instead he pursued a highly suspect attempt to change the vote count on the advice of his campaign chair Bill Daley who learned all about such political shenanigans growing up in Chicago. What ensued in Florida and eventually at the Supreme Court led to the widespread belief on the political left that George Bush stole the election. Despite ample evidence to the contrary, the left clings, perhaps willfully, to the belief that the Bush presidency is illegitimate.

Consequently, the political left, which clearly now includes the mainstream American media, has stubbornly refused to yield political power without protest, choosing instead to undermine the Bush presidency at every turn. They chose to not oppose Bush solely with reasonable debate and political maneuvering. Instead the left has sought to deny him the exercise of his constitutionally conferred power to, for example, conduct a war and appoint judges to the bench. After all, he was selected not elected.

The nation today is a house divided. Not just evenly divided on nearly every important political issue but divided because Democrats refused for six years to be bound by the political decisions of a Republican led government. Abraham Lincoln said, when the country was evenly divided over slavery, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”  How right he was. Not wanting to be bound by the political decisions of their countrymen, eleven states left Union and took their political power with them.

It is inconceivable that our modern day problems will result in armed conflict among citizens. The house won’t fall that way. But a divided house, a weakened house, can fall if attacked by our enemies on the outside. 

Writing about the Democrats return to power in The American Spectator, Lawrence Henry articulated what conservatives believe. 
“That is where we are. The electorate has bought it, and, if we believe in our way of government, that is what we must accept [emphasis added]. 

But for how long will conservatives and Republicans gallantly accept such results when Democrats and the political left eschew such notions? If in the next Congress Democrats strip the President of his war making power by defunding the war, will Republicans retaliate by filibustering any and all pieces of legislation? Can we afford the resulting paralysis at a time when enemies, who may be armed with nuclear weapons, have promised our destruction?

George Will observed that the problem with Iraq’s attempts to form a functioning government is “a dearth of the trust and good will and sheer human capital required for democratic governance.” It would not be far off the mark to say the same of American governance.

We Americans on the left and the right need to work on that: building trust and goodwill. If that sounds utterly distasteful to you, trying using your instinct for survival to help you overcome it.