Time to loosen the union

We can call it a trial separation before it’s too late

Image for post
Image for post

by Mike Meyer

While Trump normalization eats our souls, talk of ending the union is starting. At a week past the midterm election the formalization of the national breakup has become an issue. Suddenly on the edges of the mainstream media there is a sudden realization that this ‘marriage’ is broken and no path to its return looks viable.

How, exactly, do we get out of here? It is much harder now than a week ago to visualize a restored or even renewed US of A. The borders are much clearer and the gap between world views and even language are stark. While the movement of the House of Representatives to Democratic Party hands should end the wilder Trump frenzies it really only changes the names without doing anything about the permanently deadlocked Congress.

This has long sense ceased to be a split based on old left/right or liberal/conservative positions. That remains the topic of media conversation only because the media pundits and mavens know nothing else. They talk about this stuff as if it actually still existed. I think this is a major, though unstated, reason for the citizen exhaustion with an extremely crippled pseudo democratic system of government.

Listening and reading the media talking endlessly about things that don’t exist such as organizations presenting policies that would actually be of some benefit to the population. Of course there are no policies so you never hear about them. The only topics are the current outrage around the planet brought on by an illegitimate government put in place with foreign assistance by a tiny oligarchic elite. These are usually relatively inconsequential displays of mental instability, ignorance, or juvenile spite. We can watch our and our neighbor’s kids playing and fighting in the yard for that.

Why pay any attention to this stuff? The economy continues to grow as it has for the last six years but only a pittance escapes the grab of the oligarchic elite and the bills continue to climb. No one talks about that. Medical expense bankruptcy is the greatest financial threat in the nation but the talk is only about destroying what little national healthcare we have. Roughly 80% of American families are living pay check to pay check but they have gotten numb living on the edge of disaster. You don’t hear about this.

The Trumpian trade war is mentioned only very carefully as everyone is waiting for the crash that is now certain given massive deficit spending added to a hot economy driven by the disastrous tax giveaway to the elite. The only real question is how much of the planet will be driven to disaster by this. If it all goes down, as is now almost certain, then there will be a whole planet of people angry at us but, of course, we are screwed anyway. The only thing that is absolutely certain is that the greedy elite will take everything and add it to their hoard.

I feel stupid paying attention to this stuff. No wonder 50% of the voting population ignores the whole thing. If they’re unlucky enough to live in Trumpistan who knows what abuse they would get if they tried to vote only to find that their voting record has been deleted at the whim of some low life that no one will do anything about.

If our media didn’t maintain the blather about the things that once existed but are long gone what would they talk about? They might have to face what is going on and end the pretense.

It’s not hard to figure out. We have antiquated humans who are genetically prone to authoritarian social structures who also tend to be reactionaries. They have rebelled against the 21st century. It so happens these people tend to remain in small towns and rural areas because that is where others like them live.

While this is true across all human societies it has taken a very special characteristic in America. In American mythology this still remains as a memory of ‘going back to the farm’ to escape rapid change and the stress of growing diversity. We used to remember this fondly even though a holiday there would quickly degenerate into a shouting match about the things that frighten the old folks back home. Still they were our proverbial family. And they knew they weren’t the future or the true people. Now they’ve been turned into monsters that know one wants to visit.

We have known for a very long time that you can’t go home again. This truism is a product of generations of people moving out of rural and small town life into the noise and dirt but also the diversity and excitement of the cities. You may recall it fondly but if you have left you probably can’t go back and stay very long. Its a different world.

That there is nothing wrong with being the original type of conservative, as in traditionalist, and, more comfortable in a slower more traditional world. The tragedy is that this has been used to manipulate people and politicize them by fear. This is destroying that world. That is a crime.

I don’t think I need to go into this as there is no reason for those people to be fearful of immigrant populations. As a rule immigrant populations are what their grandparents or great grandparents were. The economic strength of this country in the decades in which it was growing and successful was the direct product of immigrant populations moving in and taking hard jobs that no one else wanted.

But, of course, that is not the socially acceptable position now in those areas. They have been shaped into a different culture that responds to threats, fear, and fostered hatred. The fact that this doesn’t make any sense is irrelevant.

Much of this is because the population in rural and small town America has been shrinking steadily for decades. Homo sapiens has been evolving into an urban animal for roughly ten thousand years. This group of traditionalist prone people are dwindling and will continue to do so. They will always be there as it is fairly clear that they represent, at any given time, around a 20% of the population. And choosing to isolate themselves is natural.

We should be supporting them, economically they need it, and cherishing the traditions they maintain even if we mostly don’t care to have anything to do with that way of life. But they have been told that they have the right to demand that everyone live their way or no way. This is the tactic of the authoritarian disease as the most reactionary human group is turned into the only true members of the human tribe. This stuff needs to end.

This is the essence of split that has happened whether we want to admit it or not. The oldest and most dependent part of our population has been taken and turned against their children and grandchildren.

There is no way this can be seen as a legitimate political discussion. Representative systems of government require a shared base morality and the minimum respect for diversity and opinion. That has been destroyed in the quest for absolute power and the desire for plunder. That can never be a legitimate political position in a representative state. It both requires and creates an authoritarian dictatorship whatever terms are used to describe it.

That is not acceptable. That cannot be talked around. Pretending that this is just part of the political process is a travesty. It cannot be allowed.

This was once handled in the classical Greek city states by exiling people who could not abide by the morality of the citizens. We need to recognize this and work to expand the gaps not reduce them as that won’t happen in any case.

There is a constitutional form that can be used to loosen the federal union. This the creation of formal compacts between states. It has long been used for trade and transportation agreements for interstate commerce. It could be used to allow states with very different world views to band together and then formulate agreements that would allow the union to loosen as a trial separation. It requires Congressional approval but that might be possible. The agreement would be the agreement to disagree until something changes.

A rather long essay exploring an imagined use of this to break up the union was just published in the New York Magazine. I think this is worth exploring. At the least it would be better than listening to our media fixate on Trump’s declining mental condition. In it’s present form nothing good can come from elections with two irreconcilable populations except total gridlock and the growing danger of violence.

Educator, CIO, retired entrepreneur, grandfather with occasional fits of humor in the midst of disaster. . .

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store