More communication is supposed to lead to people getting along better. That’s what I’ve always heard. But when it comes to political communication in this increasingly polarized country, there’s no understanding. There’s less and less attempt by people to understand each other. Instead, there’s more hatred.
I browse strongly partisan websites every now and then just to get an idea about what people on both sides of the mainstream are saying. Every time I do, it seems to leave me feeling physically ill and emotionally numb, because the partisans of the mainstream don’t just disagree with one another. They hate each other.
Have you read what the partisans on both sides have to say about the other? They’re angry and vicious and mean. Much of what they write is unfair and intellectually dishonest. I first added links to four of them — two on each side — but I realized that I don’t want to do that. I’m not trying to make you angrier. I’m trying to get you to look for a solution beyond the anger.
Why can’t we simply agree that we’re not going to all want the same things and that we’re not all going to want to live the same ways? One of the original founding ideas of this nation was that the states were independent about most things. We’ve been taught that the Articles of Confederation weren’t good enough because they allowed states to control their own affairs and made it hard for the union’s government to do anything. But history is written by the winners — and the federalists won. Who’s to say that a strong federal government was ever a good idea — even if it weren’t the monstrosity it’s become in the last hundred years?
Since we do have groups of people who want fundamentally different things, why can’t we go our separate ways? You could argue for ages about the correct way to divide the land and who might get what and how many new entities there should end up being, but it’s a conversation worth having. You could even have a unified national defense force to protect the current national territory and establish that the entire thing is still one open market for travel and trade and movement. Why not at least think about it and decide whether there really is such a thing as “United” States anymore. What we have now is one Federal State.
Ideally, there would be no state in the traditional way of thinking about it. I want people to be able to set up whatever governing structures they want — of whatever size they want — if they own some land. The logical thing would require some people to swap land and move in order to be in an area consistent with what they wanted. It would be messy to set up. But would it be worse than where the current hatred is taking us?
Even if you’re not willing to envision letting a breakup happen, why couldn’t we allow groups to set up their own semi-autonomous cities in undeveloped territory? Even if you don’t want to rebuild the structure of the entire nation, why not let people with ideas about the way things should be done have at least as much sovereignty on their own land as Native Americans have in some places?
Obviously, most people’s first emotional reaction is to reject any form of this. People have been indoctrinated — for as long as they can remember — to believe that the nation is one unified whole that can’t be split. Getting past that emotional propaganda is a big block for most people. But if some form of collapse is going to happen anyway, why not plan for it and lay the foundation for dealing with it peacefully — while we still can?
If you think it’s impossible, consider Yugoslavia. What was formerly one communist country with various groups who hated each other is now five independent nations. Why couldn’t some form of that work for us?
I’m tired of the hatred and the bitterness. We can’t go on rhetorically trying to kill each other to control the whole pie. In time, the rhetoric is going to turn to something more serious. It’s time to consider cutting the pie and letting lots of groups take their own slice. Why not at least think about it?