Congress has never been a friendly place. But when Harry Truman said, “If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog,” he didn't know that strangled Washington politics would one day cause a massive increase in canine demand.
The current gridlock over budget, taxes and spending is not the first time Congress has tried to define America’s core values. In 1860, a young Republican country lawyer from Illinois was drafted into running for president. Abraham Lincoln campaigned very little and made few public appearances or speeches leading up to the 1860 presidential election. The public appearances he did make always included his position on slavery - it was unacceptable and had to be abolished.
President Lincoln was joined by a number of Republican congressmen, who so emphatically supported the abolition of slavery, they were dubbed the “Black Republicans” by the Democrats. (It is ironic that the Democrats of the day opposed the abolition of slavery, and now African-Americans are a core voter base of the same party.)
The 1861 Democrats felt the same way about the so-called Black Republicans as today’s Democrats feel about the House Republicans. The 1861 Black Republicans stalled legislative action, were divisive and obstructionist. They were the 1861 party of “no,” blocking any substantial legislative action until the Democrats agreed to completely abolish slavery. Democrats loudly proclaimed that the Republicans were tearing the country apart by their stubbornness, and ultimately that's exactly what happened.
Economics played a significant role in the slavery debate, and the southern Democrats did not want slavery abolished because slaves were needed as laborers. Likewise, today’s House Republicans consider the nation’s economic issues equivalent to moral imperatives, insisting that a conservative fiscal approach is the only way to save the country from certain ruin. It is true that America is spending more than it takes in, continuing to pay its bills by borrowing money from countries that not too long ago were considered enemies. According to the Treasury Department, if U.S. treasury bonds had no buyers, the country would run out of cash in just a few months.
The idea that one person could own another was cause for Americans to take up arms against each other. But today the United States basically sells itself at auction (yes, it's really called that) on a regular basis --- and most of the American bonds are bought by foreign governments, with China leading the way.
Many Americans seem nonplussed with another sovereign government essentially owning their country, through enslaving its economic system. It’s a different type of slavery from what African-Americans suffered to be sure, but the end result is still that America is a slaved nation to masters thousands of miles away.