A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

Nov 18, 2016 by

There is power and hope in bipartisanship.

There has become a stigma associated with reaching across the political aisle and seeking compromise, seeking a sense of clarity to address real problems that face us.
Yet we must see hope in the adversity that faces our nation. The best solutions come from diversity of thought and the richness of all the special people that make up our great state and nation. Together, we are truly better.

It is for this reason I decided to write this column. I expect pushback and criticism from hardcore “R” and “D” partisans. Yet, I know that is the right thing to do to try to find a way forward – together.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Henry Ford captured what we need to be about today: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

Can we come and stay together?

These prescient words, A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand uttered by Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln in 1858, still ring true today.


Indeed, after the contentious 2016 Presidential election, our house, once again, is seriously divided.

Congratulations are in order to Donald J. Trump, our new President-Elect.


However, the new President is inheriting a divided nation that he had a significant part in splitting in two. Healing what divides us as Americans must be the first order of business.

We will not get to our new future in re-building a “more perfect union” by debating the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency or marginalizing the genuine feelings of tens of millions of citizens who abhor the fact that he won.

Undeniably, in a little over a week we have experienced a wave of true post- election depression: nearly 50% of American people wanted someone other than Trump to lead the nation.

This election generated much fear, anger and hatred. Yet denying or marginalizing the feelings of many – including women, the poor and disabled, African Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, LGBTQs, and Millennials – will not help heal the nation or help us decide how to move forward.

As a nation we need to understand and embrace diversity, in all its forms from nationality, race, ethnicity, gender and thought. If President Trump wants to Make America Great Again, he needs to embrace that diversity is what makes us great.

People are feeling victimized again as the “winning side” tells them to “get over it”, denying their basic humanity. The Clinton defeat is being felt by many women, Muslims and the Hispanic community and countless others.

Can we stop and listen to each other?

Americans need to move past “We Republicans won” to “Let’s help ALL Americans to win.”

Those of us in the behavioral health field know that the first part of problem solving is admitting there is a problem. This election, like no other in our lifetimes, has left us feeling torn apart. How can we come together to solve this divide?

It is our collective responsibility, not as partisans, but as Americans, to help the incoming president heal the country. This will mean all of us working with him, not against him, on fixing the problems we all face.

This clarion call has been trumpeted not only by the President-elect, Donald Trump, his former opponent, Hillary Clinton, but also by our current President, Barack Obama.

Yet, many people are not hearing this or embracing this plea. In order to move forward, we need to find a way to heal the wounds caused by this recent vitriolic election campaign.

From Pain to Gain?

If you have any empathy to accompany your political pedigree, this past presidential election surely tested it. Yes, it was painful to watch and hear, regardless of which side of the political aisle you occupy.

There was far more ugly rhetoric than was needed. Enough to make many Americans grab their remotes to either completely turn off or tone down the volume when candidates popped onto the screen, especially if you had young children in the room. As Election Day drew near, many hit the off button in a panic, as if to end finger nails being dragged against a blackboard.

With the stunning upset by Donald Trump, now more than half the population feels disenfranchised.

This phenomenon has been true before, yet the intensity of disgust is palpable. A colleague’s daughter who attends Calvin College in Grand Rapids (not exactly a hot bed of progressive liberalism) called him in a panic, feeling depressed. Many other Americans described their feelings of rage and angst, comparing them to the moments and days following the 9/11 attack.

People are rising up, speaking out

Our Constitution prohibits abridging the freedom of speech, infringing, or interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or petition the “government for redress of grievances”.

Protesting citizens have a constitutional right to do so as part of our First Amendment rights. And hopefully they should do so – peacefully and respectfully. But breaking the law? Destroying property or harming others? Punishment is due to the fullest extent of the law.

Clearly there will always be those who wish their fellow citizens ill and mischief abounds in the name of partisan advantage. Yet, there is real trauma involved because the political system has gotten so good at demonizing the other side, motivating people to action with fear and false innuendo.

At no time since the election of Abraham Lincoln has this challenge been as great and the consequences of failure so daunting.

Now is the time to govern and lead ALL Americans. This will require compromise on both sides of the political aisle, coalition building, healing and a concerted effort of those that govern and the governed alike to unite behind a shared vision and common agenda that lifts all boats.

President-elect Trump –again, congratulations– please cater to the better angels of our nature.


Tom Watkins is an American and a observer of the political process. He is hopeful for our collective future that we can come together as a nation. He can be emailed at: tdwatkins88@gmail.com, or followed on twitter at:@tdwatkins88

Source: A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand | DomeMagazine.com

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    U might be the only one left with some sense. I am not alone thanks.

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