Never Again

Two people marry and probably do indeed believe that their union will be until death parts them. Along the way things change. The two people themselves change. They become divided in ways that are painful. Living together becomes a continuing battle that makes them miserable. They realize that the only way of keeping peace is to end the union, to file for divorce. 

Such happens all of the time. Often it is not really anyone’s fault that things fell apart. At other times one of the partners in the marriage contract has abused the good graces of the other too many times. The lying, cheating or abusing becomes too much to bear and the divisions splinter all hope of reconciliation. 

It has been suggested that the precious union of fifty states in our United States of America is not longer working. Our political relationships seem to be as toxic as a marriage gone bad. The polarization of red states and blue states appears to be in a deadlock, a battle for ascendency of one over the other. Using a toxic marriage as an analogy a Congresswoman has suggested that it is time for a divorce, a split between the differing political ideologies. It’s a solution that has crossed the minds of many Americans even from the earliest beginnings of the United States. 

The Continental Congress charged with writing our nation’s first Constitution haggled over how to balance the role of government and the individual states. It argued over how to provide fair representation. Ultimately the compromise was to create a House of Representatives based on population inside a state and a Senate in which all states had an equal voice regardless of how many people lived in them. The quest to adequately represent the unique needs of a particular state was as controversial then as it is now. 

James Madison argued that attempting to label a region, a state, a city or even a family as being of a single philosophical bent was absurd. Human nature defies the idea that everyone in Texas, for example, is a proponent of Republican views. In fact an analysis of voting patterns in Texas indicates that most of its cities lean toward Democrats. Deeper data analysis shows that even neighborhoods are home to people with an astounding variety of political leanings. The very idea that any place is all in for a certain way of governing is absurd. 

Therein lies the reason that my southern born great grandfather joined the Union army during the infamous Civil War. He no doubt fought some of his neighbors and relatives in that unfortunate and misguided conflict. If such a dissolution of the Union were to occur today there would be countless people displaced from their homes because of the assumption that everyone within the borders of a particular state represents a single way of thinking. 

When I consider my own extended family I have to laugh. We can sit around a dinner table discussing our discordant political ideas and still love each other. We seem to represent a divergence of thought that is actually exciting to hear. I can’t think of anything more horrific than being trapped in a echo chamber of like-minded thoughts. Instead of stubbornly choosing sides and threatening to abandon each other, we actually enjoy the exercise of considering new points of view. We try to hear arguments with respect even when they are quite far from the ways that we think are right. We ask questions, listen carefully and in the end draw our own conclusions without rancor. We understand that there has never been a time in history when every single individual was of the same mind. Being so would indicate a lack of thinking, a cult like allegiance to an unchanging way of doing things. Progress would be at a standstill in an environment like that. 

While those men who wrote our Constitution sometimes threatened to leave the decision making body, they ultimately compromised in an effort to keep the Union intact. They understood that breaking it in to tiny parts would only lead to bigger disagreements and maybe even wars later. Instead of dissolving their relationships as tenuous as they sometimes were, they sought to keep the Union for which they had fought so hard in the American Revolution. They understood the importance of recognizing differences as legitimate and necessary components of a democracy. Disagreements will always be present in the human landscape. We will rarely reach of point of one hundred percent agreement on any topic. Thus we have used the idea of majority rule within our various states for over two centuries. 

I may live in Texas, but I am free to be as blue as I wish to be. It is frustrating that my vote often ends up being negated by majority rule and the assignment of Congressional districts, but I have much vested interest in living here. I’m too old to consider trekking to a blue state where I might actually end up living next to neighbors more red than the ones I now have. I aim to stay and keep voting my way in the hopes to one day make the changes that I desire. I won’t be running away from the place and the people that I love even if they totally disagree with me. That is not what relationships inside the various states should be about. Instead we should be thinking about how to come together as the good people that we know we are. 

My great grandfather ended up fighting for the winning side in the ill fated Civil War, but according to my grandmother he never got over the horrors and privations of that terrible conflict. It should never have happened then and it would behoove all of us to understand that it should never to happen again.


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