A Divided House Will Not Stand
More than 15 years ago I was part of a mission team that traveled to Vermont. We did the original grunt work—such as ripping out old soffit and plaster—on a building that years later became a combination retreat center and missionary housing.
One thing I’ve never forgotten was a comment made by the pastor who directed our group that week. A native of South Carolina, he talked about refreshing it was to live in New England.
As the birthplace of the colonies that formed the original United States, the right of everyone to speak their peace was not just cherished, but practiced. His church had a participatory-style government and everyone wanted a say in making decisions.
“The thing I like is that once the congregation has made a decision, the people accept it,” he said. “Back home, they would vote for something unanimously and then gather in the church parking lot afterwards to grumble about it.”
Refusing to Listen
I thought of that comment recently when Republican senators announced they would oppose any appointment President Obama made to replace departed Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.
The president was carrying out his constitutionally-appointed duties. The idea that Obama shouldn’t even appoint a candidate because he’s in his final year of office wouldn’t pass muster in a high school debate. So, it bothers me to see it put forth in the U.S. Senate.
Like it or not, the Senate has a responsibility to give federal Judge Merrick Garland an up-or-down vote. That Republicans are trying to stall the process past the November elections is evidence of a larger problem: they refuse to accept that Obama won the presidency—eight years ago.
Consequences of Elections
Since the president once wanted to filibuster the appointment of Justice Samuel Alioto, Obama’s critics will see the latest ruckus as a case of poetic justice.
Perhaps, but I see it as yet another instance of people refusing to accept decisions long after they’ve been rendered. The GOP may not like a conservative jurist like Scalia getting replaced by a moderate like Garland.
But that is one of the consequences of losing the 2012 election for the White House. Like it or not, the system says a sitting president nominates someone to fill the vacancy. The process shouldn’t be held hostage by one side striving to get its guy (or gal) into office to sway the balance of power.
To continue to forever contest elections and the decisions that are a natural consequence is to remain in constant gridlock, paralysis, and political snarling. The outgrowth of that is the kind of polarized climate in which we find ourselves.
This situation has been developing for years. Despite all the feel-good comments that emanated from Washington after the death of President Ronald Reagan, I remember all the sniping from Democrats and liberal commentators throughout the 1980s. They never accepted that Reagan won.
When Bill Clinton won the 1992 election, it also stirred up a continuing chorus of conservative vitriol. The comment I will forever remember concerned his supposed plan—during the peak of pre-Y2K hysteria—to declare martial law and suspend the 2000 elections so he could remain in office.
Then the same kind of speculation raged online in 2008. This left-wing fantasy declared that George W. Bush would refuse to stop down and allow Obama to take office.
You may remember that didn’t happen.
A Call for Peace
Given the fractured atmosphere surrounding the forthcoming presidential election, I suspect there will be a dedicated army opposing the winner.
I encourage you to accept the decision, no matter who wins. As a wise man once said, a house divided against itself will not stand.