For the past several months, we have seen partisan politics play out on the national stage – some would say, like never before. The House voted to impeach President Trump and the Senate exonerated him – both votes being more or less along party lines.
The day after the impeachment, the National Prayer Breakfast was held and President Trump was the keynote speaker after an opening prayer that was given by Speaker Pelosi. To say that things were awkward would be an understatement.
The Speaker made a point of saying that she prays for the President in earnest each day. However, the demonstration that happened in the House chambers at the conclusion of the State of the Union Address didn’t set the best example for the country at large as she ripped up the President’s speech on national television.
And President Trump, at the Prayer Breakfast, admitted that he didn’t necessarily feel that he was able to forgive so quickly and, among other statements, went on to admonish one of his adversaries about his crossover vote as the only Republican to vote for impeachment on the 1st Article. Although he didn’t mention Senator Romney by name, there wasn’t much down who the reference was about. Meanwhile, Romney defended his vote based on his faith and prayer about the matter.
Similarly, President Trump said that he didn’t care for people who say that they pray for you but really don’t. Trump’s comments were rather blunt and his statements at the White House later in the day evoked surprise because of their candor and directness. Once again, not a good example for others.
But this isn’t the first time in history that we have seen partisan politics. Admittedly, in my lifetime, I don’t know that I have ever seen things this polar between the parties, but on this date, on February 9, 1825, a similar thing happened in Congress.
Several candidates ran in the election in late 1824 for President and since no candidate had a majority, the House convened for the purpose of choosing the next President, according to the requirements that detail the selection process in the Constitution. John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Secretary of State William Crawford were the three top candidates. The fourth place finisher, Henry Clay, was eliminated from the final selection process. Coincidentally, this was the first election where the popular vote was counted, although, as today, the election was decided based on electoral votes and not the popular vote.
Clay made a deal to throw his votes behind Adams and with that support, Adams defeated Jackson. It is interesting to note that following the election, President Adams made Clay his Secretary of State. It sounds like partisan politics, doesn’t it? Clay and Adams went on the become the base of the National Republican party and Jackson supporters eventually became the Democratic party. Jackson did win the Presidency in the next election and started serving his two terms in 1829. But back room deals were being made almost two hundred years ago in Congress.
Our verse for tonight is a simple one. We just don’t have enough love for one another and this is something that Jesus wants us to focus on. The apostle John tells us, in 1 John 4:11-12, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
My encouragement tonight is that this seems like advice that we should all follow – especially our political leaders on both sides of the aisle. My prayer is that the nation can start to heal, both parties can come together in harmony and that we all, as a people, can live a civil and respective existence even if we don’t completely see eye to eye on the future course of the country. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…