Before Abraham Lincoln became President and the outbreak of the American Civil War, he stressed regarding the slavery issue: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Speech, “A House Divided”; Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858). He added: “I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided.” Lincoln’s “house divided” metaphor traces back to the Bible. Jesus warned (Matthew 12:25; see also Mark 3:24-25): “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”
CONCLUSION AND OVERVIEW
From colonial times to the present, America always has had political divisions. History reveals that such differences- whether based on political ideology, economic viewpoints and interests, religious or other social opinions, “human nature”, overseas events, or other phenomena- can vary in substance and intensity. Although sharing of the American Dream culture helps to unite Americans, diverse visions regarding the Dream’s content exist, evolve, and are debated. Political wars, battles, fights, feuds, quarrels, squabbles, and disagreements never disappear entirely even though that rhetoric can differ in quantity, severity, scope, and quality.
Doomsday or other terribly bleak scenarios have appeared within American political discussions. However, nowadays “civilization as we know it” is not ending (even if it arguably has deteriorated), economic growth continues (though often fitfully), and so-called “core values” expressed by the American Dream remain (in various fashions) shared. America nowadays obviously is not as divided as it was during its long and bloody Civil War. The American scene did not banish physical violence as part of the process of resolving notable national or regional disagreements. Recall wars with Indians, labor (union) fights, and the civil rights movement. Yet significant internal national conflicts, especially after the Second World War, increasingly have been resolved within a comparatively peaceful political process, including the passage and interpretation of laws.
However, a brief survey of the United States political realm from the national perspective nowadays suggests that America’s political house over the past several years probably has become more divided than usual. It probably will remain so for quite some time, and at least through the 2016 election campaign.
Political fights often can express (reflect) economic phenomena, including diverging doctrines and competing practical interests. What does the recent picture display? Political battles and resultant significant legislative gridlock within the American political realm has coincided with sluggish real GDP growth, weak average household income, an elevated poverty level, and increasing economic inequality.
Is increasing political conflict confined to the American domain? Political (as well as economic, social, and religious) divisions of course exist around the globe. Reasons for fights over power within the United States are not necessarily the same as those inspiring political conflicts elsewhere. And cultural analysis must beware of overgeneralization and oversimplification. The world as a whole is not completely falling to pieces. Yet it nevertheless seems that political hostilities within and between many nations (and between groups with different views and aims) around the globe, as in the US, have increased in the past few years. This trend, especially if it worsens, arguably endangers international (and American) economic expansion. Severe and heated political divisions not only often reflect economic problems, but also can create or magnify economic (and political) risks. World history (for example, after the First World War) reveals that substantial and widespread economic distress and fears can greatly assist the rise of rather extreme political (economic) views, whether far left, far right, ultranationalist, fringe, and so forth.
In recent years, in the United States and many other advanced nations, insufficient economic output, political divisions, or both increasingly have encouraged faith in and reliance on central banks to spark and sustain economic growth.
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America- a House Divided (12-7-15)