“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
Abraham Lincoln said these words in 1858 before the war that almost tore this country apart. Today we have made progress but many of those divisions are still there. There is one, however, that is new, insidious, or perhaps it has been there hidden for too long. Either way it is not good for this country.
Today, our congress is so divided that compromise from the perspective of one party is seen as a bad word. The President, one that Lincoln’s ideals must have imagined, has been torn down and obstructed since the day he was elected.
The question is, is that obstruction taking a new and more dangerous turn? The Republican Senate Majority Leader, the day that Justice Scalia died, almost the moment he died, announced that they were not going to fill that position until the “American people had spoken”, for a moment ignore all the implications of that and think instead what it means for our government.
The United States is built upon three co-equal branches of government and a constitution that provides for the function and duties of each of those branches. What happens when one branch of our government will not fulfill its roles thereby weakening another branch of the government . By refusing to hold hearings on the President’s nominee Senate Republicans are saying that not only do they refuse to acknowledge that the duly elected President has a constitutional obligation to name a replacement they are also saying that they will not follow their own duty, using the Supreme Court as a weapon, which risks lessening the importance of a co-equal branch of the government.
They have already attacked the credibility of the President claiming that his actions are “unconstitutional” and “illegal” without any definition on what he has done that is illegal or unconstitutional rather they make vague claims because they do not like what is “happening “in the country. But they are also attacking the court, they don’t want it to be able to rule in matters of equality if it does not agree with their own ideals. This isn’t about the actions of a President, it is about what is happening within the country, it is once again about freedom and equality. It is about the very foundation of our country.
In 1858 our house was divided by the very real picture of slavery, today our house is rocked by hidden pictures that are equally real. If our Supreme Court is not respected, if our President is not respected, if Congress will not respect and thus cannot be respected, can we stand. If our press, our free press, is being attacked and diminished so that they will not be believed can we stand?
The President has rights and duties, Congress has rights and duties, and the Supreme Court has rights and duties – each branch is equal. Each branch deserves respect. Each branch must be allowed, indeed is obligated to act. This isn’t about one person, it is about our country, and the rights and obligations that are at its very foundation.