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Reuniting this divided house

As it has at other times in our nation’s past, America stands at a crossroads -- but not the one you think it does.

Over the recent holiday season, people have largely avoided talking about politics, at least in mixed company. Hosts and hostesses at family gatherings have worked themselves ragged to come up with ways to steer conversations away from hot-button issues about the chaos going on in the nation’s capitol.

With the holidays behind us, Americans need to have a serious and mature discussion about the state of the nation.

Like screaming toddlers overstimulated with the excess of holiday treats and missed naps, over-funded fringe political operatives and their pet politicians have been throwing tantrums for months. They espouse an all-or-nothing approach to politics and use the language of warfare in their echo-chamber rants.

Now that they have made it through another holiday season, it is time for the proverbial grown-ups in the room to put the toddlers to bed, pour the coffee and actually deal with issues in a way that looks for solutions rather than the current feeding frenzy of discord.

In June 1858, Abraham Lincoln, then a senate candidate, famously told attendees of the Republican State Convention, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” While the phrase is among Lincoln’s more famous speeches and helped start his pathway to the presidency, it was far from a new concept, instead echoing Biblical teachings attributed in Gospels to Jesus Christ. “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:22)) When attempting to solve a crime, one of the first things a police detective looks at is who benefits. In crime shows, it might be the unhappy spouse seeking to collect on a hefty life insurance policy or perhaps the business partner wanting the entire pie to himself. Any fan of whodunit novels or movies recognizes these tropes and often simply knowing why a crime took place leads to who is pulling the strings.

There is little doubt that America is in a crisis. The president faces a trial in the senate for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

American government is a precarious balancing act of shared responsibility between a strong executive, the legislature, and the judiciary, with each serving as the check of the excesses of the other. Above all this is the concept ingrained in the American way of life that no one is above the law. It is not treason to question the excess of any leader. It is the obligation of all American citizens to do so. The senate must move quickly to fulfill its constitutional mandate to hold a fair trial complete with its own witnesses and testimony.

Speed is of the essence. While Americans are distracted by the Washington, D.C. dog and pony show, the nation’s enemies -- both foreign and domestic -- are the ones that benefit.

America stands at a crossroads, not because of the current president’s welldocumented lack of moral compass and habit of social media tantrums, but because the nation has failed to look behind the curtain at who benefits from our country’s house being divided.

America has no shortage of enemies that would like to see the nation brought to its knees. In the face of these enemies, Americans must move beyond the scandal du jour and stand united, not behind demagogues and rabble-rousers, but with the constitution and flag and the generations of patriots who have bled and died for the idea that is America.