We have quite the dilemma. In the broadest sense, we have two very different views of the role of government, science, economics, education, and world view. There seems little hope of reconciliation until, I fear, some catastrophe of epic proportions befalls us. Closed minds do not change easily.
There is more than enough blame for how we got to this point to spread around, but the media certainly deserves to be singled out as fueling divisiveness rather than letting the facts speak for themselves and building bridges of understanding. Our TV nation hasn’t helped, either.
A recent example of this schism: President Barack Obama. To many, he was one of the best presidents we have had in decades: intelligent, articulate, dignified, thoughtful, and hopeful. To others, he was one of the worst presidents in history. I happen to be in the former camp. I predict that history will be kind to Barack Obama. Very kind.
Presently, there is an uneasiness and anxiety across this country that during my 60 years in the U.S. is unprecedented. Where do we go from here? Increased civic engagement at all levels is crucial. As is a media that educates rather than agitates. Perhaps living separately, but in harmony, is the best way to demonstrate a better way to live, interact, and govern.
Many a time I have found myself wishing we could peacefully divide into two countries: one for the conservatives, and one for the liberals. That way the conservatives could finally have the kind of laws and governance that they desire, and the liberals theirs. But this is impractical because too many people would have to move. What about at the state level? Some states would be “liberal” states, and others “conservative”. Well, we already have this to a small degree, but there are big differences in political persuasion even within a state. Once again, too many people would have to relocate.
What about an expansion of the “sanctuary city” idea? Though currently defined as safe havens for undocumented immigrants, sanctuary cities could become places where liberals and progressives could live and work largely free of conservative doctrine and laws. One challenge to this approach, however, is that cities are largely subject to state and federal laws.
Finally, at the smallest level, one always has the opportunity to form or join an intentional community. Though, once again, that community would be subject to state and federal laws, as well as local ones. There is also the challenge of economies of scale.
I would like to live in a country where science and reason inform public decisions and laws rather than religion, dogma, superstition, and “fake news”. A meritocracy where education and critical thinking is valued and encouraged for all citizens, regardless of their ability. Where taxes are higher because they provide free education and universal health care, and less is spent on the instruments of war. Where guns are a privilege requiring extensive training and vetting, not a right. A post-capitalist society where government strongly regulates and at the same time supports businesses, and always strives to equalize economic opportunity for all citizens. Utopian? Perhaps. I have no doubt that many of us could live and flourish in such a society. The question is, will it work for everyone?
2 thoughts on “Divided America”
As of this writing, there are just four states where the governor, both U.S. Senators, and all U.S. Representatives are members of the Democratic Party. They are Hawaii, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware. Hawaii wins the award as the most non-Republican state, with 100% of the state senators and 88% of the state representatives being Democrats or Independent. Second place goes to Rhode Island, with 87% of the state senators and 84% of the state representatives being Democrats or Independent. Connecticut holds third place with 58% of both the state senators and state representatives being Democrats or Independent. Delaware is a close fourth with 61% of the state representatives and 50% of the state senators being Democrats or Independent.
If a couple can get a divorce, then why not a country? Wouldn’t we progressives and conservatives be better off going our separate ways? Our world views and motivations are so very different, there is really very little middle ground. Just as it is unhealthy for a couple with irreconcilable differences to stay together in an abusive marriage against all reason, the same must be said of the partisan divide in the dis-United States today.
Take tax cuts, for example. I and many other progressives think that most of us need to be paying more in taxes, not less. With huge budget deficits, increasing infrastructure needs, frequent natural disasters, high education and health care costs, the need for job retraining, and never-ending wars—tax cuts make no sense at all.