This expression comes from the Bible, specifically Matthew 12:25: “Jesus said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.’”

Abraham Lincoln shared similar sentiments when, in the face of national civil war over slavery, he stated: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”

This is a warning from Jesus that a divided kingdom will be ruined, and from President Lincoln that our nation, currently so divided in culture wars and political party distrust, may eventually become “all one thing or all the other.” Internal strife and distrust can be a real and serious threat to our nation’s fragile democratic institutions.

American politics, in its recent past, has been a two-party system composed of Democrats and Republicans. Using simplistic terms, Democrats were generally known for promoting progressive social programs, civil rights for disadvantaged populations, and providing leadership in the world of social justice. Republicans were noted for their support for business, conservative family values, and leadership in the world against communism.

While the Democratic Party’s values and political platform have essentially remained unchanged, as witnessed in the Biden Administration’s recent passage of major funding programs, the platform of the Republican Party is hardly clear and undergoing serious major internal flux as internal discussions seem to revolve more about loyalty. 

The Democrats are composed of a wide range of political views, from ultra-liberal as represented by folks like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to progressive and moderate. The Republicans seem to be fighting internally for a narrow party-line decided mainly by loyalty to Donald Trump, with no connection to any party positions.  In some ways, the Republican Party is becoming a personality cult.

In the old days, it didn’t seem to matter so much which party one belonged to because we were all united under one banner of being American. But now, it seems one party castigates the other party as being “un-American” or disloyal or capable of major fraud. We have, in many ways, become a “kingdom divided against itself,” which Jesus said will be headed for ruin.

It is important that we remember that we should all be Americans first and political party members second – and we should all be working for the common good and not just for what is good for our party.


Bill Watanabe writes from Silver Lake near Downtown Los Angeles and can be reached at Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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