Trump and the Polarization of America

A map of the US with the states broken up and Donald Trump's mugshot behind the states with his eyes peering out in between them

A map of the US with the states broken up and Donald Trump's mugshot behind the states with his eyes peering out in between them
I suppose I should have paid more attention in Bible class, but I grew up thinking that Abraham Lincoln originated the phrase, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” In fact, honest Abe stole that line from the Book of Matthew (12:22-28) during a campaign speech at the 1858 Illinois State Republican Convention where he won the nomination for United States Senate. 

Lincoln, of course, was warning of the impending Civil War between North and South. Matthew, on the other hand, was recounting an incident in which Jesus (who was thought by the Pharisees to be a demon) cast out the devil from a demon-possessed man who was also blind and mute. By doing so, Jesus hoped to reunite the Pharisees with the Kingdom of God. Meaning no disrespect to Jesus, but Lincoln had the tougher row to hoe when, after becoming president, he had to heal an entire nation that was divided over the issue of slavery. Hundreds of thousands of young men lost their lives in that struggle, and Lincoln lost his because he was trying to bring us all back together.

These days, America is the most divided we’ve been since the Civil War, not by slavery, but by the lies of a maniacally messianic politician. Never in our history has a major political party been so completely hijacked by one man, so much so, that 70% of Republicans believe Joe Biden’s election was illegitimate, 30% say they would vote for Trump if he was convicted (20% were unsure how they’d vote), and 28% say they would vote for him even if he’s in prison. How scary is that?

Polarization in the era of Trump manifests itself in many ways, from voter suppression to insurrection. Thanks to Trump’s fiery and canard-laden rhetoric, people now scream at one another and call each other names instead of having a civil debate. MAGA nuts carry guns with them to go vote, and they are wont to open fire on any Black man who walks through their neighborhood. “Karens” are springing up all over and feel emboldened to call the police if a Black woman tries to use the swimming pool at her own apartment complex. Country singer Jason Aldean dares people who protest injustices to, “Try that in a Small Town.” And though Trump disciples claim to support the police, they have no problem with the attack on our nation’s Capitol in which officers were injured and killed.

Donald Trump once joked that he could shoot someone in the middle of New York City and get away with it. Sadly, that’s pretty much what he’s doing to our democracy — shooting holes in it that are big enough for him to walk through, in order to suit his needs or escape prosecution.

In a recent expose published by the Associated Press, correspondent Nicholas Riccardi noted that people are increasingly moving from one state to another not for a better job, but because of politics. Conservatives are moving to red states and liberals are moving to blue states in accordance with their views on polarizing issues like abortion and gay rights. So, instead of just segregating by race, we’re now also segregating by political party, and that just isn’t healthy for a nation that is in desperate need of healing.

I don’t care whether you quote Matthew or Abe Lincoln. Either way, we should heed their warnings that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Trump disciples who are in denial about his crimes may not be demonically possessed, but they are certainly blind to them. Sadly, I doubt any miracle will help them see.


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