Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Which America?

There's an old joke from Northern Ireland about a bloke walking about at night who is confronted by a gang of suspicious countrymen.  "Catholic or Protestant?", they demand.  "Atheist," he replies.  Unsatisfied, they insist on an answer nevertheless, "Aye, but are ye a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?"

I fear the results of yesterday's election portend a similar fate for our own country.  We have increasingly become two peoples (at least two) who share less and less save the ground we live on.  This cannot stand.

Michael Barone, he of the Big Romney Win prediction, feels similarly and wrote as much last night even before the returns were in and the Obama victory confirmed.
We used to get along by leaving each other alone. The Founders established a limited government, neutral on religion, allowing states, localities, and voluntary associations to do much of society’s work. Even that didn’t always work: We had a Civil War. 
An enlarged federal government didn’t divide mid-20th-century Americans, except on civil-rights issues. Otherwise, there was general agreement about the values government should foster. 
Now the two Americas disagree, sharply. Government decisions enthuse one and enrage the other. The election may be over, but the two Americas are still not on speaking terms.
Leaving each other alone is no longer an option.  It was always chiefly a conservative strategy anyway.  Not leaving you alone, or anything else alone for that matter, is almost a defining part of the liberal creed.

I'm afraid yesterday neither solved nor even resolved anything.  The cultural divide will continue to grow until one day one side clearly wins and the other side clearly loses.  Let's hope we can keep a sense of humor about it in the meantime.

God help us. 

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