January 2021

T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY

DIVISION OVER DIVISIVENESS

BY SONJA HUBBARD

A t a time when seemingly simple issues like face masks and election results create animosity between colleagues, friends, and even family members, it is hard to argue that we are not a country divided. But are we really divided or more divisive, or both? Division is a separation of opinion or feeling, while divisive is defined as creating dissention or discord. Call us divided if you will, but having attempted a few casual political debates recently, I would define the reactions as divisive and even a tad emotional. Divisiveness seems to be a cyclical thing, but divided we’ve always been. Divided could be a political descriptor of our country from the time of its formation. The British and the Colonial settlers divided, of course. Then, the founding fathers’ Federalists vs. Republican policy debates formed our Constitution, whose pillars are grounded in division. The principal source of our theory of separation of powers as implemented in the Constitution was not an American idea but that of Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, a French judge and political philosopher. He argued for three separate branches of government, each of which would have defined abilities to check the powers of others. The Constitution divides the federal government into three branches to make sure no individual or group will have too much power: • Legislative—Makes laws (Congress, composed of the House of Representatives and Senate) • Executive—Carries out laws (president, vice president, cabinet and most federal agencies) • Judicial—Evaluates laws (Supreme Court and other courts) This ability for each branch to hold distinct powers and authorities, with checks from the other branches, ensures we do not fall under the rule of despot, tyranny or absolute authority. The structure established by our Constitution has stood for centuries, survived wars, both the industrial and technological revolutions, unimaginable societal changes, and many a diverse and even divisive

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