Sunday, June 15, 2008


Years ago, the United States was divided into the North and the South and these sections engaged in what we call the Civil War. The North had the factories and the determination; the South had the cotton plantations and the enthusiasm, fueled by indignation that their way of life was being threatened. The division between the States culminated in a bloody and fierce war, a war that did not divide the Union after all, but which left behind fields of white crosses in the old cemeteries, crosses that tell us just how many thousands of young men died fighting in that war.

Today, there is another kind of division in the United States. It is the Blue against the Red, the Republican against the Democrat, and the division is so fierce, these factions cannot seem to agree on any issue, but constantly argue about the right or wrong of things. This division has divided cities, towns, neighbors and families. It has culminated in a governmental stalemate, with the Right never agreeing with the Left and the Left never agreeing with the Right. Thus, legislators cannot settle on very many issues and the laws are not made to correct any wrong, nor are they performing the duties of oversight on the Executive Branch of the government as the Constitution states they should.

What happened? When did this start....and why? We can blame it on two reasons, abortion and taxes. When Roe vs. Wade became law, there was a tide of indignation around the country. Many people consider abortion to be tantamount to murder, for they believe that life begins at conception and that this new life should be respected and protected at all times. Some people even feel that contraceptives are wrong and will not approve birth control measures, except for the very unreliable rhythm method.

They also resented taxes. Spurred onward by radio shock jocks like Rush Limbaugh, they railed against the poor, most of them Blacks, who collected Welfare payments, which the Republicans feel is the lazy man's way of getting a free ride through life on the backs of the hard-working taxpayers. Limbaugh also railed against drug addicts but, when it was discovered he himself was addicted to a narcotic, the fact was excused and his audience remained loyal.

Calling themselves the Silent Majority, then came the emergence of the Christian Right. Megachurches popped up, with charismatic and enthused pastors. In an attempt to appeal to youth, the churches included roller rinks and video game rooms and other paraphernalia that would attract the young. Their congregations grew and they began to dabble in political action, determined to set aside the Separation between Church and State that our country's founders had advised.

On the other side of the coin, the Liberals were enjoying the prosperity of the United States. The Middle Class were the envy of the rest of the world, resulting in lines of people waiting to immigrate to this country. Unions, formed to help the working man, grew into huge Corporate entities, sometimes acting on the far side of the law, but always helping improve the lives of the working class.

Roe vs. Wade, to the Liberals, is a reprieve for women from the physical and mental demands of constant childbirth. They do not believe that true life begins at birth, but only when a a fetus has the necessary organs for survival. They believe in abortion for rape victims, for the victims of abusive relatives, for the woman swamped by the lack of money to raise a brood of children. With countries like China burdened with some 900,000 citizens or more, with India a growing second place in the population sweepstakes, with Third World countries losing babies to lack of proper nutrition, it seemed to Liberals that this could be avoided by population control.

These differences continued to grow, as the divisive "election" of George Bush took place. His opponent, Al Gore, had won the popular vote, and Bush was given the electoral vote. This contested race ended in the Supreme Court, where the Republican judges made their choice, clearly along partisan lines, clearly a continuation of the Great Divide.

Now, eight years later, the country is even more divided, although the numbers are shifting. The Christian Right is crumbling, with the loss of some ministers in scandals, and other reasons. The Left has rejected the abortion dispute, because the same people who claim they value the protection of life at all times have supported and cheered a war started for no good reason. The arguments, the debates, the furious disclaimers continue, but the polls show George Bush sinking like a rock in the water.

Taxes may not be welcomed by any citizen, but hordes of poor and homeless do not speak well for any country. Millions of people, especially the Young, have no health insurance at all. College loans have caused our young people to graduate owing as much as $200 to $400 thousand dollars, plus interest. Many high schools have a 50% drop out rate. The demise of the unions has not helped the jobless. A huge National Debt does not bode well for our future generations. Our Constitution, ignored for these past years, is regaining its power in the courtrooms. It has become clear that the War in Iraq was started, not because of danger to our country by the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, but because control of the oilfields was desired by a group of men calling themselves the Iraq Study Group and studying ways to attain their goal.

Still, the country remains divided. The Right has served up Conservative John McCain, who promises to extend the war in Iraq and in other ways follow the path that Bush has hewn. The Left has offered a historic and charismatic choice in Barack Obama, a Liberal promising an end to the war and some compromise between the Red and the Blue. The insults and propaganda are already heating up in preparation for November's election.

What will the future hold for our country? Will it sink like the dollar and become another poverty-stricken member of the Third World? Throughout history, great super powers have fallen. England no longer rules the seas. The Roman Empire crumbled. The future Super Power may well be China, or India, or even Iran, with its wealth of untapped resources. Whatever happens, if the Great Divide between American citizens does not abate, we are in for a rocky ride and a continuation of problems. We will either have a continuation of the Corporate-Military rule warned against by Dwight Eisenhower, or we will have a nation once again ruled by the voice of the people, those troubled and struggling workers whose silent screams of protest ring like the gongs of the cracked and aging Liberty Bell across the vast and beautiful regions of this land.