A House Divided: A series about division in America, part 1

It’s 2018, and I argue that the tensions in this country are heating up. There is a definite “us vs them” mentality floating around. And a lot of it is centered around our current President of the United States.

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.

We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.

In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

–Abraham Lincoln, 1858

 

 

This was a speech given over one hundred and fifty years ago by Abraham Lincoln. Yes, the speech was about slavery, but it still resonates today. “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln said. And he was right. Shortly after he gave this speech in the Illinois State House, he became President of the United States, and then The Civil War broke out. The house of Lincoln’s time could not stand when it was divided against the slavery issue. Four long years of brother fighting against brother, and that was the only time we, as a country, have fought against ourselves. Lincoln was able to hold our country together, sew the seams back up. But at what cost? How many lives were lost because the division and tension was so high against the issue of being able to own other human beings?

It’s 2018, and I argue that the tensions in this country are heating up. There is a definite “us vs them” mentality floating around. And a lot of it is centered around our current President of the United States. While one of the triggers that ignited the Civil War was the election of Abraham Lincoln as President, I won’t waste my time comparing him to Donald Trump. Trump is not Lincoln. But in a later edition of this series, I will talk about the leadership in this country then versus now, and how it would look if there were to be a Civil War in 2018, which I personally feel is very unlikely, no matter how divided we are.

And, we are divided. At the time that I am sitting and writing this, President Trump’s campaign is under investigation to see if there was collusion with the Russian Government to get him elected. Every day in the news there are new developments in the investigation that lead to more yelling across the aisle. And new threats to fire Mueller, the man investigating the President, from Trump’s twitter.  This is where the divide becomes evident.

There are two sides in this country right now: Pro-Trump and Anti-Trump. And both sides are loud. And neither can get along. The fact that our current President is unashamed and openly speaks his mind, even though ninety percent of what he says are lies, makes the Pro-Trump people happy. They’ve been waiting for a President like this. The opposite is true of the Anti-Trump sect. The divide is so deep around the fact that Mueller is investigating Trump, that there are contingencies in place if Trump actually goes through with firing Trump. Or the phrase “Civil War” has been spoken in reference to Mueller charging Trump with a crime.

But how did we get to this point? When did we get so divided that we’re yelling at Uncle Mike across the table at holiday dinner and unfriending friends and family from Facebook over politics? There were several things, but a big portion of it is the educational and economic divide in different regions in America.

The people who live in the “rust belt” have felt left behind in this new era of everything becoming automated, regulated and shipped overseas. They need someone to blame. Trump, during his campaign, gave these people someone to blame, and promised them he would fix all of their problems.  This is his “base.” He is always appealing to them. He knows the right words to say, and they don’t care if he’s lying or not, he’s appealing to their emotions and addressing their needs.

The people who live in the more urban areas tend to be more on the “Anti-Trump” side. They’re more progressive, they’re in favor of a lot of the changes that are occurring in the world, and they are generally a little more well off because they have not had their livelihood shipped overseas. They tend to see through Trump’s lies, and view him as a threat to democracy. They are very much in favor of the Mueller investigation and will be very upset if Trump really does fire him.

This is just one of the things that is causing great tension between everyone in this country. You’re viewed as either patriotic or anti-American by someone, and those definitions differ depending on what side of the argument you’re on. This may just be one thing, but we’ve seen it spiderweb through our country, causing a lot of strife. We’ve seen this allow White Supremacy groups to come out of hiding, causing the racial divide to deepen, which I’ll talk about in another article.

But what can we do to stop it? I honestly don’t know. I would like to think if Trump were no longer President, it would all go away, but that’s naive. This era has opened up a can of worms, so to speak. We need to look at the concerns of both sides and address them, reasonably. We need to listen and see both sides and try to come to some kind of compromise.

If you read the full text of Lincoln’s speech, you will find that’s what he wanted as well: compromise. He knew that if both sides didn’t find common ground, nothing good would come of it. And they couldn’t, and that’s how we have The Civil War. Let’s not let this drive us to this point. Let’s not let the President be what makes or breaks this country. We’re all Americans. Let’s all treat each other like brothers and sisters and not the enemy.

This is just Part 1 in a series about the division in America. Please come back next week and check out Part 2, which will be about how guns have caused a division in this country. 

Trump’s Budget Proposal: Unfair to the Majority of Americans

In 1929 the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday creating what would be known as The Great Depression. Millions of people lost their jobs and their homes. Families struggled to feed themselves and their children. When he became president in 1932, Franklin Roosevelt made it his mission to bring the country out of the Depression. Through the new Deal, Roosevelt implemented many policies that helped bring the country out of the Depression. Among those policies were the beginning of programs we now know as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Food Stamps, or SNAP as it’s now known. In the 1960’s, Lyndon B. Johnson expanded upon these programs forming them into what we are familiar with today.

Today, millions of Americans rely on these programs. The elderly count on Medicare for their healthcare needs and social security for their financial needs. The poor and middle class rely on Medicaid for healthcare assistance and use SNAP in order to feed their families. These are all amazing programs that many people rely on, and if they didn’t have them, they would probably die.

That’s why this week when President Trump released his budget proposal everyone was outraged with his proposed cuts. It almost seems like class warfare. Increasing the budget for the military, which it doesn’t need, at all, but cutting programs that help the poor and the elderly is a decision that is hard to digest.

The cuts to Medicaid and Medicare come at a time when the administration is working hard to dismantle The Affordable Care Act. The United States already ranks thirty-seven in the world for health care. We’re one of the only developed nations without universal health care. Gutting these programs that our most poor and elderly almost completely rely on is mind-boggling. Why would we want to make it so that people who are sick can’t seek help? Why would we want to get rid of these programs that help people so much?

The cuts to SNAP is another big slap in the face to people who rely on it. The majority of people who use SNAP work full time. Sometimes they work the equivalent of two full time jobs. The fact that wages in this country are disproportionate to cost of living, makes it difficult for a family to pay rent and utilities and also put food on the table. That’s where SNAP comes in. It helps parents feed their children healthy food. Trump’s cuts to SNAP come with the caveat that they’ll give people receiving SNAP a subscription box of food. Which sounds okay on the surface. Food delivered to their door so they don’t have to take time out of their chaotic and often busy lives to grocery shop? Great! Except that it’s not. These boxes will be full of canned and prepackaged foods. No fresh milk or produce. How is this good for these families? The families also won’t be able to choose what comes in their boxes. So, what about people with dietary restrictions and allergies? Can you see the problem here? This is only creating more issues for the program, all based on myths about the misuse of the program.

Where do we go from here? I’m hoping that Congress sees Trump’s budget proposal, and uses it as just that: a proposal. Congress needs to hold the good of the people above the good of themselves. They need to keep funding these programs, and making sure they succeed. Why do we want to move backward in history and see a return to record numbers of families on the streets or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor for simple issues? You need to contact your representatives and let them know that you won’t sit back and watch our social programs disappear in favor of a larger military. Our lives are worth more than that.