Saturday, December 12, 2015

Might A House Divided Be A Better House?

By Stephen P. Pizzo,

Those of us who paid attention in school may remember Lincoln's warning that “a house divided cannot stand.”

True then, but now? I'm beginning to think not, not now, not today.

While a lot has also remained the same since Lincoln's warning, today the consequences are even more serious.

Many, maybe most, in the deep south still chaff under the yoke of a Yankee-dominated central government seated in Washington, DC. And now those Yankees have heaped one final insult to their defeated secessional ambitions... exiling their beloved Confederate battle flag.

Slavery is gone, but racial tensions are as high as ever, not just in the deep south, but in every major city in the Union.

Christianity, once the dominate faith from coast to coast, north to south, is still strong, but rapidly losing its grip on that dominance, and they don't like it. Increasingly the term “persecution” laces their angst-filled protests. And here too, those “liberal Yankees” have heaped one final insult upon the faithful; letting men marry men, and women marry other women.

Science has made enormous strides over the past century and half, the fruits of such that make our lives better fed, better housed, healthier, more productive and less burdensome. Yet science has joined the “suspicious” central government as a major source of angst and distrust among millions; they suspect conspiracies are afoot, see scientists as concocters of lies and disinformation and demonic attackers of religious scripture. Even vaccines, which have saved countless billions of lives over the decades, are now under suspicion among many.

Then there's the battles over our shared physical environment. Even as it decays before our very eyes, millions of otherwise sane American citizens deny it and, rather than rising to the occasion, cling furiously to the very activities that lay at the center of those declines.

Of course I could go on and on; resistance to gun regulation, even as rivers of blood flow in our streets, resistance to strong financial market regulations, even as the bills from numerous previous financial meltdowns accrue interest in our burgeoning national debt.

Yet there are major constituencies on both sides of every single one of these issues. Both sides believe, unshakably in most cases, that they are completely right and the other side, the “Libs” or “Right Wingers,” are completely wrong. And they're not about to change their minds, not about any of it, not now, not ever.

And, since that's the case, both sides will do whatever it takes to gum up the works so the other side cannot prevail.

Which brings us back to Lincoln's admonition, and an opportunity to evaluate it in terms of our own times. He was of course right, though his goal was to preserve a single union. But looking at that statement today leaves me to wonder. Today the nation is still divided, but it's the House where that division threatens most. Our House is, both figuratively and literally, divided, as is the US Senate. And, at the bottom of it all, the electorate. And it should now be becoming abundantly clear that this House cannot stand. In fact, it is already not standing, but failing, completely.

Which begs the question: If this house cannot stand, due to the host of intractable disagreements on policies, fiscal, social and military, might it not be wise to divide this house, this time peacefully, thoughtfully, purposefully.

What would be the advantages to such a separation? Without getting into the fine points of where the borders would be drawn, let's just assume it's, once done, there would be a Red State and Blue State assemblage. (Of course many voters would find themselves on the wrong side of a border and will, over time, either accept their minority voting status or move. Time will take care of that.)

First, both new entities would finally get federal governments that reflected their citizens world, social, fiscal views. That would, in turn, create legislatures that could function. Citizens would finally get to see their views translated into policies they can see and feel.

Second – and I consider this the most important – both liberals and conservatives would at last have an opportunity to field test their most precious beliefs. Reds could slash taxes on corporations, cut social programs to the bone, outlaw abortions, ban same-sex marriages, repeal all affirmative action laws, bar foreign immigrants, deport undocumented aliens in wholesale lots. Blues could increase taxes on corporations and the rich, use the extra tax revenues to boost their social safety nets, modernize their infrastructure, and outlaw greenhouse gas producing fuels.

I think I know which side would shine over the coming 50- to 100-years but, who knows. The issue is that nothing...and I mean nothing, is going to get done under the current state of dis-union. Conservatives and liberals are, quite simply, “wired” differently. There is no chance of reconciliation here. This marriage is over, all but for the divorce.

Since the end of the Civil War the notion of breaking up the Union has been the ultimate sacrilege. But now, today, look around. Think carefully. If we can no longer function as a single family, why not mutually agreeable separation, with visitation rights?

Why not allow both the Right and the Left a chance to find out, once and for all, which has the best workable solutions to our modern-day challenges? Surely neither has all the answers. Each will have some successes and some failures. Scientists would call this a “controlled experiment,” which is, of course, the only kind of experiment that yield results which can be trusted.

Or we can just keep doing what we've been doing. Which means we will keep getting what we've got; a central government that does not function, that cannot come to grips with the serious, even life-on-earth threatening events, facing the nation. A central government that fiddles while Rome burns.