America is scarred by a prominent fault-line. It’s been there since the nation’s birth. Geographically, it follows the Potomac and Ohio Rivers, tracks roughly the 32nd parallel, then drops to the Rio Grande east of New Mexico. Conversely, the great divide cannot be simplified as purely geographic, for it cuts through households in all 50 states. On the other hand, the Blue-Red state schism resembles the Blue-Gray split 150-years before. The Old Confederacy has risen again in the 21st, and you can see it clearly displayed on election night maps.
Yet it’s more complex. The divide is also apparent between religious bodies. Fundamentalist denominations are on one side; mainline denominations on the other. Traditional class warfare also plays a dynamic on the fault-line; the “have’s” (and those that identify with the rich ‘cause they want to be also) are principally on the red team while the “have-not’s” (and those that empathize with the poor and middle class) are on the blue.
At this time in U.S. history, the divide is widening again to dangerous levels, and there are several factors contributing: Political polarization, income disparity, unemployment, homelessness, unfair global trade agreements that re-sanction slave labor, the “dumbing-down” of society, corporate takeover of media and elections, and burgeoning religious movements identifying with the affluent in contradiction to original doctrine.
And at the heart of the great divide is the modern Republican Party. Its political operatives made a conscious decision three decades ago to win at any cost, including compromising traditional values that moderated our political system to civility and accepted standards of discourse. No longer is there a conscience to constrain; all tactics are on-the-table. As part of the conscious decision to include the unconscionable, the GOP has embraced deceit, fear, greed, and hate as part of its fabric. The composition is damaging to the nation as a whole, not just the party, and they care not. All that matters is objective; winning is the only thing that counts. The end justifies the means.
Nixon coined the new political reality that widened the gap, “Southern Strategy.” He and many other politicians recognized the passing of Civil Rights legislation in the mid-60s would lead to the end of Democratic domination over the Old South. Republicans quickly moved to fill the vacuum by converting former Dixiecrats and Klansmen into the GOP. The process is practically complete after 46 years.
“[The far right cannot] discount the fact that sitting in their parlor is the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, every racist group in the United States and not a few of some Fascist orders that have scrambled their way up from the sewers to a position of new respectability.” – Rod Serling, 1964 Los Angeles Times
This is America’s curse, her fault-line. Canada’s may be the French and English gap, Britain has its Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; India is divided by the traditional caste system; and China is plagued by its Tibet and Taiwan. In perspective, nearly every country has a fault-line that, if inflated, could resuscitate civil strife.
But America’s curse now seems more inflamed due to calculated Republican strategy, as mentioned.
America’s curse is the same for all fading empires – destructive division. Rome fell from within, not from without. History tells us more Romans died during the decaying period from domestic disputes and religious rivalries than from outside barbarians. The scene was neighbor against neighbor; kin vs. kin. In addition, the distant provinces became more detached from Rome over centuries.
Internal decay is far more lethal than external. Invaders are usually stopped at the gate. But only when an empire is defeated internally may external forces penetrate to finish the job. Of course, Rome’s fall was over a period of centuries, plus the Western Empire fell nearly a thousand years before the Eastern. If only America could be so lucky.
I see the Republican Party [with all its tentacles and artificially spawned groups] as America’s curse – its decadence. Republicans are always demonizing Democrats, I realize. But I actually believe Republicans are the element of the nation’s decay. Nothing good for the country can be passed because Republicans stand in the way. Their immaturity blocks everything America needs to recover, and if they don’t get their way in concentrating wealth into their rich friends’ hands, they throw childish tantrums – literally.
The Republican curse is like a method of Roman torture whereby a rotting corpse is strapped to a healthy person’s body until the decomposing excrement and bacteria infects the living tissue and the healthy individual succumbs to a slow, torturous death. The dead body is the GOP and the living human – carrying around the weight of the decaying body while at the same time attempting to survive and provide necessities to sustain that existence – is the nation.
Admittedly, this is a grotesque metaphor of the current condition. But the end justifies the description. Aren’t we dying as a nation because the Republican Party – with its obsession with guns, violence, wars, myths, fear and hate – is tied to our backs? Somehow we can’t rid ourselves of their influence; neither can we escape to another planet. We’re married to the mob and tortured forever.
The Nazis Party, with its nasty little prejudices and cultic myths, was Germany’s dead corpse strapped to its back. Republicans are ours.