A House Divided

Posted on 2011 November 21 Monday

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I need to set the stage here, so here are two quotes to set the tone:

from Abraham Lincoln’s ‘House-Divided’ Speech in Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858. 

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Now any historian will tell you that the actual cause of the Civil War was NOT slavery. It was a multiplicity of causes; slavery was just the match that lit a very long fuse that had been building for the “four-score and seven” years (yes, it was actually less than that[or longer], depending on where you wish to draw a starting line, but give me a break here, I’m not in the position to split timeline hairs). It came from (among other things) a long line of economic crises and the resultant public unrest (the more astute of you are already seeing the glimmer here, while the more brilliant already have seen this argument and know the outcome.. me, I’m just musing out loud here).

This news blurb is from CNN News Reports:

“A new CNN poll shows that the same partisan divide that’s keeping the congressional super committee from reaching a deficit reduction deal also exists among Americans who identify with a political party.

The CNN/ORC International poll released Monday shows that 59% of those surveyed who identify themselves as Republicans oppose tax increases, while 57% of Democrats polled say they oppose spending cuts. The super committee that was charged with coming up with a long-term deficit reduction plan by Wednesday remains split along party lines over those issues, say congressional aides familiar with the discussions.

Independent voters surveyed somewhat mirror the overall public attitudes toward taxes and spending – nearly seven in 10 independents favor raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, which Republicans oppose, and support cuts on domestic spending, which Democrats oppose.

The poll also found that cuts to defense programs, triggered if the committee can’t reach a deal, have become less popular. About half of those surveyed in August, when the super committee was formed, favored defense cuts; but the Monday poll shows that about six in 10 are now against defense cuts.”

Hmmm… over 50% from both “sides” disagree with the other “side” about what the actual problem is and what to do about it, and blaming the dreaded “others” by whatever hideous appellation they can concoct (godless liberal/greedy conservative), thereby minimizing, demonizing and stereo-typing each other (not to mention making a GREAT sound bite for the evening news) and the poor independents (who, lets be honest here, have neither the economic/societal/political clout necessary to really do anything) are almost as divided and polarized by the current crisis as everyone else. We have protestors “occupying” parks and parking lots (still unclear what changes they are actually protesting for/against, but Dr. Horrible comes to mind… “destroy the status quo because the status is not … quo…”), we have the highest unemployment rates ever, we have questionable (at the very least) business/government practices/alliances/whatever, have now been at war in one sphere of the world or another since 1990 August 07 (I refuse to get into the rightness or wrongness of these particulars) and societal inequalities by the score based on race, creed, color, lifestyle, etc. (starting to sing jingles from Saturday morning  cartoons circa 1980’s… thank you School House Rock) since before the time of Lincoln, Washington, since the Dawn of Man and we started slinging rocks at the other tribes because of a real or perceived need/want/difference. And don’t get me started on OU/OSU/Texas/Penn State/Big 12/PAC 10! (mainly because I don’t really care about sports… that’s a rant for another day…)

We have a problem folks (please make a special note of the italicized-bolded-underlined word: We, as in all of us, together, excluding none). This divisiveness is only adding fuel to the fire. We currently are only looking for who to blame (just saw an MSNBC report about the super committee’s failure to cut the $1.2 trillion and a little “poll” asked who do we blame. And later an article saying that President O said it was the republican’s fault… or was that just the media… hmmm.. media bias? Bears? Defecating? Woods?). So who do we blame? The Dems? The GOP? Big business? The Poor? The Rich? The huddled masses yearning to breathe free?

Tell you what. Get up from the damn computer and go find a mirror. Or turn on your web-cam and look at the little box that shows up on your screen. You are looking at the root cause. Me, you, our elected officials, the guy down the street. We are all to blame in some form or fashion. So what do we do?

Stop looking at who we can blame for the mess. Help clean it up. I don’t care that you “didn’t cause this mess. It wasn’t me.” (I don’t wear my wife’s clothes or use all the dishes that get dirty, but I still help out with the laundry and do the dishes in my house.) Go do something. What? I don’t know. I’m not that smart. And more importantly, it’s not my place to decide for you. You (special word note again) need to take on that responsibility to be a pro-active member of our society. Maybe volunteer at a soup kitchen? Donate to a charity? Open a door for the person behind you going into whatever building you walk into next? Vote differently next go around? Write a letter to your congress person? Go play catch with your kid or your dog? Ask out that special someone? Write a blog?

It really does’t matter if you are the slave half or the free half. The big thing is to stop looking around at who to blame and complaining about how bad you have it. I promise you there are people out there who have it a hell of a lot worse than you have ever dreamed (or nightmared) and do something. Start thinking for yourself and stop buying into ANY party line. Act like the republican-democracy that we were supposed to be way back when. Start at home and build from there. This divided house can’t stand. Stop looking at what makes us different and start looking at what can we as individuals do to help out. What do you need to do to maintain and improve YOUR house? What does your neighbor need that you can provide? What does your neighborhood need that you can help out with? What does your town, your city, your county, your state, your country need? A man much wiser than myself once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Think I will at least try. I need to go help clean up the kitchen. The dishes won’t do themselves and I need to help out. Dunno if it will help the whole nation, but it sure can’t hurt.

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Posted in: Politics