Interesting column by Pat Buchanan in this morning's paper. Upon returning here from Europe, he reflected on the deep divisions in our country, as manifested in countless ways. He cites our slogan "E pluribus unum", and says he can see the pluribus, but not the unum. He ends by asking "Is America breaking up."
Considering all of the disparate elements which make up this country, the miracle is that we have lasted this long. I doubt that there has ever been a democracy which has flourished with as little cohesiveness as we now have.
What really brought this home to me was a recent analysis of the "birther" movement. Most people in the South doubt the authenticity of Obama's birth; even though one can hold up the contemporary newspaper account of his birth, as Chris Mathews has done, and show it to a birther, they still question it. (As if there was a great conspiracy started back in 1961 to perpetrate a fraud on the people of this country!) The rest of the country (i.c., the "real" United States) overwhelmingly accepts the legitimacy of Obama's birth.
After that awakening, a study of issue after issue shows the South at serious variance with the rest of the country. I say it is time to acknowledge that the South should have been allowed to secede 150 years ago, and that Lincoln made a horrible choice when he waged war on the South instead of allowing it to go in peace. Lincoln conned himself and the people into accepting that the South was "in rebellion" (his favorite phrase), when the fact of the matter was that it was the union which took up arms against the South, not the other way around. Any reasonable definition of the word "rebellion" does not include the South attempting to secede. A rebellion is an armed insurrection, not a peaceful attempt to leave. Yet through his skillful and deceitful use of language, Lincoln managed to wage a horrible and unnecessary war on his own people. Shame!
But of course the past cannot be changed. We can, however, correct the mistakes of the past to the extent possible. The South should be allowed to split off today, as it obviously is hopeless out of touch with the rest of the country. Each of the new countries would then have a chance for the sort of cohesiveness which is necessary to have a viable and thriving democracy.
Think of everything the South could do, were it not shackled to the rest of the country. It could ban gay marriage, it could ban abortions, it could allow everyone to walk around armed, it could use the death penalty more often and more efficiently, it could mandate prayer in the schools and the Ten Commandments posted in each Courthouse, it could fly the Confederate flag from each state capital building, it could ban assisted suicide, it could proudly torture captured prisoners of war, it could make war on any country it doesn't like, it could refuse to enact any health care reform, it could ignore global warming, it could ban the teaching of evolution, and on and on.
As for the rest of us, we could work toward a more tolerant and humane society, one which respects individual differences and respects international law. What an improvement that would be!