To the Editor:
Today, more than 150 years after Abe Lincoln’s prophetic proclamation that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” we find ourselves in a house so divided that it will not act to preserve itself. The division that endangers us is between those who vehemently seek the diminishment of government, the elimination of entitlements, and the reduction of taxes, and those who just as vehemently advocate the exact opposite.
The debate over these positions, while often uncivil and ill-mannered, demonstrates that democracy is very much alive and well in our society. But our failure to go beyond that which divides us and our bitter refusal to compromise positions in order to preserve our way of life is a fatal mistake. We must demand of ourselves and our representatives the seeking of common ground and reasonable resolutions of issues to preserve our precious but endangered union.
Fundamentally, we are doing to ourselves what forces within Nazi Germany, Fascist Japan, and the Soviet Union failed to accomplish. They could not topple a government of, by and for the people. The grave danger is that the people, driven by intractable principles and intent on having their own way at the exclusion of all others, will fail to forge compromised solutions to those problems that threaten our survival.
Let’s have spirited, civil debate. But let us demand of ourselves and our representatives solutions that will bind up the nation’s wounds.
“A house divided against itself” should not become the epitaph of the American experience.