A house divided


(3/18/2020)

From: James R. Puz

Winona

 

Unless you’ve been in a coma the last few decades, you’ve been a helpless witness, a disinterested bystander, or an active participant in the partitioning of America into camps of uncompromising political bitterness, outright hatred, and a marked lack of civility ... the Red and the Blue (with some purple).

For years, both sides have sought blood; to win at all costs. The red flag of the “deguello” has been raised high in both camps ... no quarter given, no prisoners taken. Compromise is unthinkable, unforgivable.

Today, an ideological wall separates us, a wall as hard to breach as any made of concrete and steel. We’ve forgotten an unyielding ideology once stained this nation with Blue and Grey, with disastrous results.

America has now passed through a maelstrom of political turmoil. With the impeachment and trial of President Donald J. Trump, the atmosphere has been like a festering boil in need of lancing. The president, however, was found not guilty by the U.S. Senate on the two articles of impeachment brought forth by the House of Representatives. The boil remains, though, as painful and swollen as ever.

Now, America will move forward, hoping to mend wounds that are not only many in number, but very deep and very painful.

A healing balm is badly need now but while we search for that “magical panacea,” keep this in mind.

Prior to the Senate’s vote, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), Tennessee, said a guilty verdict would “pour gasoline on the fire” of the nation’s cultural wars regarding Trump. The senator added, “It would rip the country apart.” And here might be the crux of matter.

Over the years, America has allowed herself to become more and more polarized; a toxic atmosphere shrouds this nation. And quite visibly, over the last three years, the rift regarding cultural and ideological differences has greatly expanded. We are, as President Lincoln once declared, “A house divided ...”

It once took two bloody conflicts, the Civil War and the Vietnam War, to create “a house divided,” to form critical tears in our republic’s fabric of attitudes, laws, emotions, norms and numerous other factors.

Yet, we survived; our flag still floats proudly across this great land ... but with a cost. It will, over the years, show the ravages of time, wind, weather, and the sun, often looking like a frayed table cloth of red, white, and blue.

But, as that same flag waves majestically over America, it showing signs of the ravages of ideological intolerance that permeates America. Like it or not, the rift is widening at an alarming rate. “A house divided” is worsening.

Like a devastating earthquake, the president, since his 2016 presidential campaign, has managed to inflict, single-handedly, grievous tears in our republic’s still-vulnerable fabric; grievous tears that once required the violence and divisiveness of two costly wars to achieve the same results with the American people today. 

Trump has successfully gathered such an enormous following within the Republican Party that GOP lawmakers are not only afraid of him and his tweets, but worse yet, they are terrified of those millions of dedicated followers, many of whom can be regarded as nothing less than fanatical; those who turn a deaf ear and blind eye to anything Trump says or does, regardless of how horrendous or maligning it is.

To anger Trump; to cross him in any way, is equal to attacking his followers. Thus, GOP politicians are fearful of incurring the wrath of Trumpites at the polls. They’re afraid of doing their job, especially Republican senators charged with deciding an impeachment trial. And here’s where Sen. Alexander’s words become significant. The “gasoline” had the potential to “ rip the country apart.” It should unnerve all of us that such fear can be generated by one mortal man ... in America.

Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Paper No. 65, had this to say regarding impeachment: “They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all the animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or an other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

Mr. Hamilton saw impeachment as unpleasant and tainted by rancor. Yet, he never said the process shouldn’t proceed nor should the senators shy away from making an unpopular decision, one that “would pour gasoline on the fire.” In essence, he was saying the senators must do their sworn duty to the Constitution, regardless of the risks in doing so.

The “not guilty” verdict, with all of its excuses and rationalizations, has successfully sealed the fate of the GOP. It is now the party of the three brass monkeys ... See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. 

 

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