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.
Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1858
In 1858, the house (America) was certainly divided. Three years later it was split asunder. That wound was not healed. The South was dragged back by bitter force, and for another hundred years black people bore the brunt of Southern hostility — and Northern hostility as well.
Ending an armed rebellion does not quell a rebellious spirit.
During WWII America moved with concerted effort to end Fascism. Twenty years later, our house was divided once again, with vast numbers supporting war in Viet Nam and vast numbers opposing it. Very few minds were changed, and the bitterness did not die. Only bitter people died, and not all of them. I should says, not all of us. Fifty years later and I’m still pissed at what we did in Southeast Asia.
We are frequently divided by the wars we have fought, and we are always divided by race — never mind the fact that the whole concept of race is an illusion. For four hundred years, whites and blacks have mixed their DNA, frequently by white force on black women. Light colored “blacks” have passed and become “white”.
Personally, I like the result (though not the means). If you lined up every American by skin tone there would be an unbroken continuum from dark to light, but the end points would still be very different. Would you prefer having everybody a dull beige? How boring would that be?
The “black race” has whitened and the “white race” has darkened. If that second statement seems wrong, it is only because when there is a question of whether an individual is white or black, if he/she isn’t completely white, he/she is “demoted” to black. Witness a certain duchess in Britain who is only slightly south of pale.
If you have any sense of mathematics you can see that this process will eventually make “whites” cease to exist. The “one drop of blood” gang will have won — and disappeared.
There is only one race, but there are still a thousand variations of that race, whatever we call them. There are also a thousand ethnicities, by which I mean groups with a common history and culture. There are ten thousand sects and religions.
Jesus said, “Wherever there are two or three gathered together, there will be a fight and the next day we will have two denominations where yesterday there was one.” Or something like that. Matthew 18:20, snarky translation.
Some things can be compromised. Some can’t. Some things are so basic to personal world views that all we can do is let the majority decide, and let the minority continue to try to change the law.
When Martin Luther King and thousands of others were fighting for civil rights, the house (America) was divided. At first, all we could do was pass legislation. A strong minority, not just in the south, hated the Civil Rights act. It was put in place by force, not agreement.
Things got better. It is sometimes hard to remember that, but they did. Yet we remain a house divided to a greater degree than in any recent decade. Democrats and Republicans alike are forted up, with cannons protruding from the parapets. That isn’t healthy for either side, since nobody is ever completely right.
I have a solution.
(I can hear you saying, “Yeah, right, sure you do!”) Okay, I have a suggestion.
I grew up Republican and rebellious, but when it came time to register to vote, I didn’t register as a Democrat out of spite. I registered Independent.
Or tried to. In California, they make you register “No Preference”, and I hate that. Independent sounds like a true American who makes up his own mind on issues. No Preference sounds like a wimp who doesn’t care.
I care. I look at every issue with both eyes open, and I usually find sense on both sides. I also usually find stupidity on both sides. A little compromise would make both liberal and conservative proposals more sensible, but it happens all too seldom.
Moderates in Washington are disappearing from both parties. That leaves a vacuum. Perhaps it is time for people to say “a plague o’ both your houses” and register as independents.
I’m not referring to an Independent Party. If the movement became a party, it’s members would no longer be independent.
We could also use more people running as independents. We all know that no independent is ever going to become President. But a member of a local school board already could be. A mayor could be. State legislators could be, at least in some states. The time is right. Social media makes running without party backing a real possibility, especially in local races
Such a movement away from monolithic parties would be healthy for America. At the very least, if might scare both parties back from the brinks of extremism. Think what ten independent Senators would mean in Washington today. They would wield immense power toward moderation.
Ten years ago there were moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans. They are becoming increasingly rare, and moderate voters have no one to represent their interests.
No one is listening to me, of course, and that’s all right. A movement toward independent candidates doesn’t need someone to tell everybody to go out and be independent. That is a decision to be made one citizen at a time.
I won’t be running for office myself. Every time I get in an argument with someone, they end up mad at me and I don’t change their mind at all. Compromise and conciliation are wonderful things, but they are not in my skill set. That’s why I write.
But you . . .? Maybe you could change the world.