Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

The USA is no longer “one nation, under God, indivisible.” In truth, it is now two very different nations: Red America and Blue America. Blue America is more populous and richer. Blue America voted for Ms. Clinton. Red America voted for Mr. Trump. Due to a legal technicality, the people’s choice was not elected and the victory went to Mr. Trump.

A great statesman dealing with a deeply divided nation will make every effort to bring the two sides back together. Nelson Mandela was such a statesman. When the white government of South Africa was turned out by elections that elevated Mr. Mandela to the top office, he bent over backwards to accommodate the white minority. He stymied calls for revenge with his Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He held back attempts to confiscate property owned by whites. And in so doing, Mr. Mandela saved South Africa.

Sadly, Mr. Trump is no statesman. Even though he won on a legal technicality, he has made no effort whatsoever to unite the country. Indeed, he was exacerbated the division by nominating the Reddest of people to his cabinet. And the Trump team seems to be already planning efforts to oust anybody with a hint of Blue in them from the government. There is no talk of compromise; now that the Republicans are in control, they are planning to cram their programs down the throats of the Blues, gleefully chanting “Elections have consequences!”

What’s particularly dangerous here is the intense animosity between the two nations. Just look at political commentary here on Medium: we don’t see much reasoned discussion. Instead, we see lots of anger, vituperation, and absolutely no effort on the part of either side to understand the other.

There’s a good reason for the animosity and incomprehension. We now have completely separate news sources. Reds get all the news they want to see, and avoid all the news they don’t want to see. Blues have it the same way, with completely different news sources. With totally different sources of news, the two nations have totally different perceptions of reality. Every Red can tell you that Hillary Clinton is an evil, lying criminal and Donald Trump is the voice of the common man. Every Blue will tell you that Hillary Clinton was a noble, honest, and intelligent candidate, and that Donald Trump is a lying megalomaniac. And each of the two nations is correct — in the sense that these characterizations are consistent with the news they read.

With completely different perceptions of reality, Blues and Reds have no basis whatever for rational discussion of issues. Nor is there any point in compromise, because the Other Side is utterly wrong in everything. Politics has been reduced to a naked struggle for power. It is impossible for the two nations to cooperate for the good of the Union.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. The United States of America is unraveling. It is only a matter of time before the hotheads on each side will start burning, bombing, and shooting. And each act of terrorism will generate more acts of terrorism. Like a nuclear chain reaction, the situation will explode.

I don’t expect any of this to happen anytime soon. It will probably take a few decades to grind its way to its ultimate collapse. But make no mistake: the fundamental forces are now irreversible. Can any reader imagine any Red politician saying, “Let’s compromise with the Blues to work out a solution that everybody can live with!” That’s absurd and will never happen. Similarly, can anybody imagine a Blue politician saying the same thing? Well, perhaps, but Blues have been trying to work with Reds for eight years now, and Mr. Obama finally gave up and began acting on his own initiative.

Given that a divorce between Red America and Blue America is now inevitable, we must begin considering how to effect this divorce with the least damage to both sides. The sooner we separate, the more amicable the divorce will be.