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Author Topic: Divided States of America  (Read 1519 times)


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Divided States of America
« on: July 04, 2013, 06:03:39 am »

Red, Divided and Blue Fly This Independence Day

By Ronald Brownstein
Updated: July 3, 2013 | 6:15 a.m.
July 3, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.

It seems entirely revealing, if dispiriting, that the days before the July Fourth holiday showed Red America and Blue America pulling apart at an accelerating rate.

Of all of our national holidays, Independence Day is the one most intimately rooted in our common history and shared experience. Yet this year it arrives against a background of polarization, separation, and confrontation in the states and Washington alike. With municipal politics as the occasional exception, the pattern of solidifying agreement within the parties—and widening disagreement between them—is dominating our decisions at every level.

On almost all of our major policy choices, the common thread is that the election of 2012 did not "break the fever" of polarization, as President Obama once hoped it might. Last November, Obama became only the third Democrat in the party's history to win a majority of the popular vote twice. But congressional Republicans, preponderantly representing the minority that voted against Obama, have conceded almost nothing to his majority—leaving the two sides at a stalemate. Meanwhile, beyond the Beltway, states that lean Democratic and those that lean Republican are separating at a frenetic pace.

Consider a few recent headlines. The Supreme Court decision upholding the lower-court invalidation of California's Proposition 8 restored gay marriage in the nation's largest state. It also capped a remarkable 2013 march for gay marriage through blue states, including Delaware, Minnesota, and Rhode Island (with Illinois and New Jersey possibly joining before long). The consensus is solidifying fast enough that 2014 could see several blue-state Republican gubernatorial candidates running on accepting gay-marriage statutes as settled law. Former California Lt. Gov Abel Maldonado, a likely 2014 GOP gubernatorial contender who this week reversed his earlier opposition to support gay marriage, may be an early straw in that breeze.

The story in red states, though, remains very different. Almost all of them have banned gay marriage. Some activists believe Justice Anthony Kennedy's embrace of equal-protection arguments in the decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act might enable litigation challenging those bans; but if not, it may take a very long time for the support for gay marriage among younger voters to dissolve the resistance to the idea in culturally conservative states. Absent further Supreme Court action, the nation could remain a "house divided" on gay marriage for longer than many may expect: The high court's ruling striking down the remaining 16 state laws banning interracial marriage came in 1967—nearly two centuries after the first state had revoked its ban (Pennsylvania in 1780).

Meanwhile, as gay marriage advances in blue states, red states are competing to impose the tightest restrictions on abortion since the Supreme Court established the national right to it in Roe v. Wade. In Ohio this week, Republican Gov. John Kasich signed legislation requiring ultrasound exams before abortions, effectively cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood and making it more difficult for abortion providers to transfer patients to public hospitals. In Texas, after the dramatic filibuster by Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis temporarily disrupted his plans, Republican Gov. Rick Perry this week opened another legislative special session that is likely to ban abortion at 20 weeks and impose stringent new safety requirements that would shutter most of the state's abortion providers. All of this follows a cascade of legislation restricting abortion in Republican-run states from Arkansas and Louisiana to Kansas and North Dakota—most of which are already facing legal challenges.

In Washington, there's little sign of convergence. Hopes for a budget "grand bargain" are flickering. In the Senate, the two parties have worked together to pass a farm bill, and more dramatically a sweeping immigration overhaul that won support from all 54 Democrats and 14 Republicans. But House Republicans, who recently collapsed into chaos when they couldn't pass a farm bill, are pledging to block any reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants—an indispensable component of legislation as far as Democrats are concerned. On big issues, the Supreme Court looks just as chronically divided, and the split often comes down to Republican- and Democratic-appointed justices.

All of this reveals a political system losing its capacity to create common ground between party coalitions divided along economic, racial, generational, and even religious lines. Some variation in state policy is healthy, but states are now diverging to an extent that threatens to undermine equal protection under the law. The stalemate in Congress reflects genuine differences, but the reluctance to compromise—most intractable among House Republicans—prevents us from confronting common challenges.

In all these ways, our contemporary politics is ignoring the simple truth that none of us are going away—not the cosmopolitan coasts, nor the evangelical South. Our choices ultimately come down to bridging our differences or surrendering to endemic separation in the states and stalemate in Washington. This week we celebrate the moment when the authors of the Declaration of Independence concluded they had no choice but "to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another." It's an excellent opportunity to consider how ominously our own "political bands" are fraying.


The author's own political biases notwithstanding, he brings up a good point.  This has been a long time coming, and it's not getting any better.  None of the issues of the day get "settled". There's very little in the way of consensus.  Laws pass, and elections are won, by razor-thin margins. Supreme Court decisions are almost always 5-4. You can, very often, predict what any politician has to say on a given topic just by knowing his party affiliation or his state. For all of its aloof sniffing about how it's supposed to be "the fourth estate", the media is fully involved in politics, and they've more or less chosen sides.

I really don't think there's any fixing this, now. If the country was federalist, like it's supposed to be, it'd be less of an issue.  California could do one thing and Oklahoma could do another. But now everything has to be federal. The powers that be love the federal machine. If the other guy can get enough votes to overcome a senate filibuster, he'll rake you over the coals on his issue of choice and call you racist for complaining about it.

I don't know where all this leads, but I don't think it's anyplace good.  Politics is always going to be ugly and messy.  People are always going to disagree, vehemently so, on major and minor issues.  But it seems we're getting two increasingly divergent viewpoints, almost different ways of looking at the world, with less and less wiggle room.

Look at the gun situation.  The gun grabbers talk about universal background checks and pointless, arbitrary magazine capacity bans, but we all know they want to ban each and every gun, and we all know they'll do it as soon as they have the votes and think they can get away with it.  What do we, the RKBA movement, have to compromise on? The thousands of gun laws on the books are never enough for these people. They always want more.

To half the politicians out there, if the federal government doesn't pay for something, then they're effectively banning it.

The only thing the two sides can agree on is the extent to which the NSA should be reading our e-mails.  But hey, it's just "metadata".  Don't fret, citizen. You don't want the terrorists to win, do you?


Happy Independence Day, everybody.

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    Re: Divided States of America
    « Reply #1 on: July 04, 2013, 12:07:32 pm »
    All that article says is "Oh those rascally republicans and those red state hicks! Why can't they understand that it's their refusal to embrace the good and wonderful socialist ideas that is making everthing soooo bad. They are so mean! It's all their fault." Typical liberal BS.  :vomit And he even has the gaul to wrap it in the flag and envoke the Founding Fathers.

    I have no desire to be "united" with such ilk.

    Federalism IS the problem (thanks Abe.) The Founders knew the dangers of it just as they knew the dangers of true democracy. So many of the issues that the author cites as exanples of divisiveness would not be if they had never reached above the level of the States. By allowing the federation to replace the republic (let's call it what it is) we have removed the safeguards that allow us to hold divergent beliefs and yet still live together in relative peace.

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    Re: Divided States of America
    « Reply #2 on: July 04, 2013, 12:59:28 pm »
    Wow.  What a can of worms this opens up.   :scrutiny     Maybe the only thing that would give us an actual chance of surviving the current mess is to hit the reset button.  As Vin Suprynowicz has said,  "Everything that should be against the law was already against the law by 1912."   I'd be OK with wiping the slate clean back to about that point.    At this point though, whatever we do is probably not going to be by consensus so hang on tight, the ride could get rough.
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    Re: Divided States of America
    « Reply #3 on: July 04, 2013, 01:17:16 pm »
    This has been developing for a long time; the use of balkanization and demonization by politicians, I believe, is accelerating the process.  History repeats.

    You've probably seen this in some form, as it made the rounds on the web for a number of years, but it's as timely as ever, and pictures that political strategy precisely.

    Found at:

    I have a plan to destroy America

    by Richard D. Lamm

    I have a secret plan to destroy America. If you believe, as many do, that America is too smug, too white bread, too self-satisfied, too rich, let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. History shows that nations are more fragile than their citizens think. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and they all fall, and that “an autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.” Here is my plan:

    1. We must first make America a bilingual-bicultural country. History shows, in my opinion, that no nation can survive the tension, conflict and antagonism of two competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. One scholar, Seymour Martin Lipset, put it this way: “The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with its Basques, Bretons and Corsicans.”

    2. I would then invent “multiculturalism” and encourage immigrants to maintain their own culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal: that there are no cultural differences that are important. I would declare it an article of faith that the black and Hispanic dropout rate is only due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out-of-bounds.

    3. We can make the United States a “Hispanic Quebec” without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently, “The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved, not by tolerance, but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically, and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.” I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with a salad bowl metaphor. It is important to insure that we have various cultural sub-groups living in America reinforcing their differences, rather than Americans emphasizing their similarities.

    4. Having done all this, I would make our fastest-growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50 percent dropout rate from school.

    5. I would then get the big foundations and big business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of victimology. I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was all the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.

    6. I would establish dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would “celebrate diversity.” “Diversity” is a wonderfully seductive word. It stresses differences rather than commonalities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other–that is, when they are not killing each other. A “diverse,” peaceful or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together, and we can take advantage of this myopia.

    Look at the ancient Greeks. Dorf’s “World History” tells us: “The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic Games in honor of Zeus, and all Greeks venerated the shrine of Apollo at Delphi. A common enemy, Persia, threatened their liberty. Yet, all of these bonds together were not strong enough to overcome two factors … (local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions …)” If we can put the emphasis on the “pluribus,” instead of the “unum,” we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.

    7. Then I would place all these subjects off-limits–make it taboo to talk about. I would find a word similar to “heretic” in the 16th century that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like “racist”, “xenophobe” halt argument and conversation. Having made America a bilingual-bicultural country, having established multiculturalism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of “victimology,” I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra –”because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good.” I would make every individual immigrant sympatric and ignore the cumulative impact.

    8. Lastly, I would censor Victor Davis Hanson’s book “Mexifornia” –this book is dangerous; it exposes my plan to destroy America. So please, please–if you feel that America deserves to be destroyed–please, please–don’t buy this book! This guy is on to my plan.

    “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” –Noam Chomsky, American linguist and U.S. media and foreign policy critic.


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    Re: Divided States of America
    « Reply #4 on: July 04, 2013, 02:04:37 pm »
    I think if we eliminated the vast majority of federal laws and controls, and allowed the states or even maybe smaller divisions to handle legislating their own areas it would go a long ways to being a better country. I really don't want Detroit telling me what to do, however it's better than Washington. That said if we could survive more segmentation based on beliefs etc, then the UP could be it's own state and handle itself accordingly.

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