“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”—Abraham Lincoln, 1858
When I was in sixth grade my teacher, Mrs. Reger, held a mock election to see who our class would support in the 1960 presidential election between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. Mrs. Reger made no attempt to hide her contempt for Democrats or her support for Nixon. When it came time to raise our hands to cast our “votes”, I was only one of three who voted for Kennedy. She gave the Democrats in my class the stink eye. The day after the election after Kennedy won, she came into class madder than a hornet. (A hornet happened to be our school mascot by the way.) Anyway, she fumed about how she had stayed up all night just to watch “that son of a rum runner” win. Joseph Kennedy, John’s father apparently ran bootleg liquor during the depression. He was also ambassador to England. I smirked. She gave me the stink eye.
Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was recently asked if we have ever experienced anything worse than the divide of our current times. She said there have been times in our history that have been more divided, and placed into evidence the fights on the senate floor in the 1850s, the civil war that left over a half a million dead, the progressive era that bordered on a revolution, the great depression, and the upheaval of the 1960s. OK. But seems to me that in 2018 the division of our house rivals those historical events.
Case in point: the recent confirmation hearings of Judge Kavanaugh. Dr. Ford testified that he attempted to sexually assault her at a party in 1982. He denies ever being there. The Republicans on the committee said they believe she was assaulted, but didn’t believe it was him, even though she said she was a hundred percent certain that it was. I guess they didn’t want to appear insensitive, while giving a full throated defense of the Judge. The Democrats needled him, and he responded with anger and tears. He called it a political hit job orchestrated by the Clintons and the left wing. The bases got riled and retreated into their respective corners. The vote was delayed pending an FBI background investigation that did not include them interviewing either Kavanaugh nor Ford, and did not include investigating allegations from other women that came forth. I wonder if we’ll ever find out what Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s buddy who was alleged there during the incident, said. All I know is Kavanaugh was confirmed by the slimmest of margins, and is now on the Supreme Court. Fast forward to the case that challenges the executive powers of the president, or abortion rights and ask yourself how he will vote.
Now we are polarized what seems to be more than ever. The mid-term elections are coming up. Some predict a blue wave, some a red state backlash. Or maybe they will cancel each other. We’ll know soon. Regardless, after all is said and done, what I know is that our house will continue divided. People say they want politicians to compromise and work together to solve common problems. I don’t believe it. Seems to me what they really want is a fight.