Gallery F
Racial Divisions
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A House Divided . . .

By James Donahue

Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus when he gave his famous "house divided" speech before the Republican State Convention in Springfield, Illinois, on June 16, 1858. He went on to win the Presidency against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas.

Lincoln’s speech was controversial when he said it. Yet it was clearly prophetic because of the looming Civil War that was to literally tear the nation apart during his term in office.

That war was fought over the issue of state’s rights and slavery. Today, a century and a half later, America is once again a house divided, and the rift may be even more severe than it was in 1858. Not only are Americans divided over racial issues, but Lincoln’s grand old party is battling a Democratic black president; the first ever to be elected to the White House.

The fighting on party lines has been so severe that President Barack Obama has had to use every trick in the book just to get important legislation passed. Many of his appointments to vacant political seats remain unapproved by the Republican controlled Congress. Because of gerrymandering and trickery in key voting districts the Republicans also have gained control of the Senate, thus creating a political block against just about anything Mr. Obama had on his plate for the final two years in office.

While unable to get much done on the home front, the Obama Administration has been focusing on issues in the Middle East, which have been growing ugly. One important question is whether Iran can be persuaded not to build atomic weapons now that it has constructed a nuclear power plant.

Vice President Joe Biden, who has been personally involved in negotiations with Iranian leaders, justifiably exploded in anger when 47 Republican Senators sent a letter to Iran which questioned the authority of President Obama to negotiate such a deal with Iran. In a statement this week Biden accused the Senate Republicans of undercutting "sensitive international negotiations" and acting "beneath the dignity of an institution I revere."

The letter suggested that any deal the Iranians make with President Obama might well be scuttled by Republican legislators, and that a successor to Mr. Obama might choose to invalidate its terms. The Republicans appear confident that voters will elect a Republican president in 2016.

Biden warned in his statement that the letter "ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American president, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States.

"As the authors of this letter must know, the vast majority of our international commitments take effect without congressional approval," Biden said.

Indeed, the United States is currently steaming through perilous times and it appears imperative that the President and the other branches of government stand united in efforts to negotiate peaceful solutions.

Since it is clear that the legislators are resisting everything the President is attempting to accomplish, and the Judicial branch is muddying the waters with controversial decisions, this house . . . the United States government, is clearly divided in almost every front.

It is no secret that America has made enemies in all corners of the world. Are the Republican legislators . . . many of them greenhorn Tea Party extremists still learning the ropes . . . not placing our nation in great jeopardy by doing what they are doing? Could they collectively pull themselves up for a united front in the event that the United States comes under an attack by a foreign power?

Operatives for ISIS, Russia, Iran, Venezuela or even China might be asking this very question as they watch events unfold in Washington.