America’s divided house


Following a long and tedious, tortuous presidential campaign rife with insult and innuendo, counterfeit story lines of candidates’ illnesses and inabilities, conspiracy theories of media favoritism and rigged election processes, and virulent threads of racism, sexism, and nativism, Hillary Clinton carried the popular vote and Donald Trump, winning the Electoral College, is America’s 45th President-elect.

The election is over, but no one’s happy.

Not Clinton stalwarts, many, perhaps most viewing Mr. Trump, at best, as unseasoned in governance and unprepared to govern and, at worst, a personification of a wholly self-interested, ethnocentric, exclusionary ugly America.

And not Trump supporters. To wit…

On Thanksgiving Day eve, a Michaels arts and crafts store customer in Chicago, proclaiming, “Yes, I voted for Trump, so there!”, erupted into a profanity-laced, racial-tinged tirade protesting discrimination at the hands of African American employees.

This past Wednesday, a Florida man, berating a Starbucks barista as “garbage” and “trash”, made the accusation of “anti-white discrimination”, though ostensibly for poor service, linked to his self-identification as a Trump supporter.[1]

This past Thursday, Clinton and Trump chief strategists joined in the now, since 1972, traditional presidential election post-mortem at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The customary civil character of the gathering quickly evaporated in the heat of mutual verbal fusillades of anger, if not also contempt, some of it markedly personal.

On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln, then the state Republican Party’s nominee as Illinois’ United States senator, channeling Jesus,[2] delivered what became known as his House Divided Speech. Lincoln, as a latter-day prophet, speaking of America in the light and shadow of the idea, the reality of institutional slavery, said, in part: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free…Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it…or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States…”

The presidential election is over and no one’s happy. There are few gracious losers. There are more sore winners. Depending on where one stands, hope is shrouded in varied shades of doubt and fear and civility trumped by schadenfreude-esque self-satisfaction. America again is a house divided, and, according to Lincolnian and biblical wisdom, cannot stand. Which way will we go?



[1] In a nation of over 325 million people, I would and could discount these two incidents as anomalies; considering them to be peculiar expressions of individuals at particular and isolated moments of personal stress or distress. However, in light of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s tabulation of 867 acts of intimidation and violence, most unabashedly motivated by racial or religious animus, coming within ten days after Election Day, I view the Michaels and Starbucks episodes, reflective of a larger and most worrisome malaise, as manifestations of a communal, national psychic disorder.

[2] When Jesus was accused by the religious authorities of casting out demons by Satan’s power, he answered, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3.23b-25, my emphasis).

2 thoughts on “America’s divided house

  1. Thanks Paul! You nailed the divisionsl! It is interesting how neither side is really happy at this point! The incidents around the country are really terrifying, AND I have no idea how this will go! I’d do anything for a crystal ball right now so I could have a sense of how bad this might be.

    I keep praying for hope and peace, but with some of the cabinet appointments thus far, hope is shining all that brightly. Every Dec 31st people toast at midnight and say “Happy New Year”!! I don’t know if I’ll be able to say that as we enter 2017. All I may be able to muster is “may common sense and peace prevail in 2017”. Guess I can hope for that right?

    much love!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, for “common sense and peace”, Loretta. However, I can’t recall who first said or wrote words to the effect that given the honest observation of human nature common sense is not at all very common!

      At the end (and beginning and middle) of any day, all I can control – to the extent, however minimal, that I control anything or anyone – is my actions. Daily I pledge to be as true to my values of Jesus’ love and justice as I can, being as unconditionally kind and fair as God grants me power to employ. Small in relation to larger national and governmental forces? Yes. Still, though minuscule in comparison, it is something, verily, better than my attempting nothing.

      So, dearest Loretta, let us carry on!


      Liked by 1 person

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