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Beinstein column: Something different from the purpose of either party

Alex Beinstein
Alex Beinstein

I know we aren’t literally living through a Civil War. People aren’t dying, no group is seceding from the Union, and we’re all still part of the same country.

Yet, it most certainly feels like a Civil War. A president won’t shake the hand of the opposition, the leader of the opposition shreds a president’s State of the Union. Fox and MSNBC describe two different universes. And each side acts if this the other is truly evil.

Throughout all of this I can’t help but think of Abraham Lincoln. During the dark days of 1862, he privately wrote, “In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party — and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose.”

Despite their respective attempts, neither Republicans nor Democrats can really claim to be acting according to God’s purposes. If the Republicans are most appealing to His favor because of tax cuts and conservative judges, why did the Democrats win the House in 2018. And, if the Democrats are acting upon His will, why does Trump’s popularity keep increasing and the credibility of its own nominating process keep decreasing.

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It’s nice to dream up some scenario where some candidate rides in on a white horse and saves the day. But that isn’t so. The country continues to become more and more divided.

The scriptures teach us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Pundits make considerable money claiming to understand what this present conflict really means. Politicians arrogate tremendous power for themselves perpetuating a self-serving narrative. But the truth is nobody knows.

As Abraham Lincoln also wrote, “By his mere great power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And, having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.”

One party will be the nominal winner this coming November. But nobody is really winning. The debt is climbing, the fractures are deepening and the hatred is intensifying.

No party or political figure has built a consensus around health care, energy, education, taxes, the economy, and all the rest. But something, we can’t say what, but something positive will come out of all this insanity.

Despite all the turmoil in the early days of our Republic, George Washington did bequeath us with a functioning government. Abraham Lincoln left us with a freer, fairer and more dynamic economy. And Franklin Roosevelt gave us a vision of how a more secure, stable and harmonious society would look.

Eventually, we’ll have a more wholesome and stronger republic because of the present agony. The only thing we can’t say is when that day will come.

As Abraham Lincoln liked to quote, “And this, too, shall pass away.”

Alex Beinstein is a millennial who grew up in Aspen, lived in Carbondale for a while and now writes from Washington, D.C. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.


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