A Daily news digest by Jasper van Santen

The ‘United’ States? A house divided – Al Jazeera English

In News, Politics on May 8, 2012 at 09:31

The 1865 US secession map – where blue were ‘free’ states, red were ‘slave’ states while yellow were states that ‘permitted’ slavery [Wikimedia Commons]

The ‘United’ States? A house divided 

How will states work out their varying views of what makes a modern society work, and come to any common understanding? Especially in a world where Republicans have assaulted the very functioning of the force that keeps us all as one, the federal government.

Because these past few weeks – and this has been going on a lot longer than that, but lately it’s been particularly alarming – have exposed the stark difference between regions of this nation, a house divided, if you will. And this is only seeming to grow with time.

While Oklahoma and Tennessee were working on legislation to actually ban the teaching of global warming and evolution, Connecticut was abolishing the death penalty. While “Republican legislators in Texas have voted to eliminate funding for any women’s healthcare clinic with an affiliation to an abortion provider – even if the affiliation is merely a shared name, employee, or board member”, the California state legislature is pushing to liberalise abortion laws, increasing the eligible pool of those able to assist a woman in exercising her right to choose.

Meanwhile, Arizona, not one for being shy about their crazy, has passed legislation (which is clearly unconstitutional) saying “life begins at menstruation” for potential mothers-to-be. Sadly, I am not making this up. I hear next they’re looking to change the standard to “when she has that gleam in her eye”.

“The only answer is to push back against assaults on the federal government, indeed strengthen its role in separating church and state and protect basic human rights.”

At some point, with no unifying force, it might make sense to wonder what Mississippi has in common with some lines on a map. That very same question could be applied to Oklahoma and Oregon or Wyoming and Washington, DC. Sure, we have a common history, but a very different view of it. We do share language, but then again, we also share a basic dialect with New Zealand. Blue states might even start questioning why their tax dollars disproportionately fund red, welfare-hating, “welfare” states that take in more federal dollars than they send back to Washington.

Of course the only answer is to push back against assaults on the federal government, indeed strengthen its role in separating church and state and protect basic human rights. Because just as it was needed to end slavery and enact civil rights, is the only force that can give this country a common cultural understanding of what is acceptable and what being a democracy means.

We must defeat the ideology of anti-government zealotry acsendant among today’s right-wing Randroids, or else I don’t see what will be holding us together a generation down the road.

 

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