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Opinion: A House Divided Cannot Stand

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From the Holy Bible to Abraham Lincoln it has been said that a house divided cannot stand. This week has shown us what we all have known to be true for quite some time – that we are living in that house that so many others have spoken of.

With a near percentage tie in the presidential popular vote that leaves no room for neighborly compromise, a nearly split yet still Republican controlled House and a closely Democratic controlled Senate, our nation’s blood pressure is at a collective all-time high. One nine-term Ohio Republican congressman, however, will have an opportunity to lower his blood pressure for the first time since being elected to the House of Representatives in 1994, and his name is Steve LaTourette. And in a house divided, he was the one that could no longer stand.

LaTourette was known to be one of a dying breed of American politicians: the mystical moderate. He was often respected for his ability to reach across the aisle despite his support of unions and tax hikes that made life contentious with many of his right-wing colleagues. He was affectionately given the nickname “Big Ugly” by former President George W. Bush and according to a recent interview with CBS News has been called a traitor along with many other less than desirable terms from his fellow Republicans.

On the house floor, LaTourette has both slammed Fox News for fabricating stories and has likened the Democratic Party to whining babies for blaming Republicans for the healthcare struggle despite having more than enough members at the time with the ability to pass the bill on their own.

The last straw for LaTourette came this year, when the 58-year-old congressman from Ohio’s 14th District co-sponsored a budget with a Democratic colleague that planned to slash spending and raise taxes. At their press conference announcing the budget, over 100 congressmen showed up in support of the plan. By the time the budget reached the floor, however, it received just 38 votes. “What happened is forces on the left and right began flooding their offices with emails and phone calls…and that makes people nervous here,” said LaTourette to CBS.

If you want to know why our country is as divisive as it is today and seemingly split down the middle with a modern-day verbal Mason-Dixon Line you don’t need to look any further than LaTourette’s story. Our government’s inability to pass any form of consistently useful or impactful legislation that a vast majority of this country can support is not allowing you and me to stand as one.

LaTourette, reminiscing back to his arrival in Washington in 1994, described the relationship between Democrats and Republicans as being “opponents.” Today? Well today they are “enemies,” according to LaTourette. This is a scary statement. Why? An opponent is someone you can shake hands with after a big game, an enemy is someone you try to destroy.

Being faithful to your party has replaced being faithful to your country and to your constituents for many of America’s elected officials. Even Mitt Romney’s failed election bid was more a failure of GOP leadership and strategy than of anything Romney said himself. It was what he didn’t say that lost him the election, with his inability to sway moderate to libertarian leaning Republican swing voters as if veering off from the party platform would be political suicide.

Maybe Mitt Romney should have taken a closer look at someone like Steve LaTourette, who in a swing district in a swing state was able to be re-elected for 9 consecutive terms before choosing to step down, despite often veering off from Republican party norms.

With our Congress losing both Steve LaTourette and Congressman Ron Paul this year to retirement, it is our responsibility as voters to support candidates that are willing to follow their model of common sense politics, and not party politics. Today our house is still standing, but we are a deeply divided nation. If we can’t find the right men and women to pull us back together as one, how long will it be before we finally crumble?

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