How long can this nation run as two “countries?”
We really are, you know. Think of a blue state. Think of a red state. Now, consider. Are they politically more alike or more different - one from the other?
Let’s use Oregon (blue) and Florida (red). Politically, alike? Or different?
The answer, of course, is different. Very different. And the governors? They couldn’t be more unalike. In fact, set Florida’s DeSantis alongside Oregon’s Brown or governor of any blue state. The differences are immense!
Do the same with Abbott of Texas, red state Republican, and Griffin, blue state Democrat of New Mexico. Many differences. Also Witmer, blue state Michigan, and Little, red state Idaho. Similar or different?
For some months now, it seems we’ve been walking a fine line when it comes to governance of blue and red states. And temperament. Not much push back from either color during our national COVID pandemic. Or much else, for that matter. Until now.
Now, DeSantis and Abbott (reds) are showing some ill-conceived push back against President Biden (blue). In fact, DeSantis has been downright nasty. “I don’t want to hear any COVID ‘blip’ out of you,” he addressed the President through the media. If the voters ignore his very public drive to be the GOP presidential nominee in 2024, he may live to regret such disrespectful language. To say nothing of the needless deaths he’s caused.
Abbott has been similarly angry about CDC guidelines and the feds putting pressure on the unvaccinated.
In fact, with only two exceptions I can think of, most governors of red states have been somewhat hard to get along with lately. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas has apparently had a recent “conversion” to the need for more vaccinations and masks after first signing an anti-mask mandate. Larry Hogan of Maryland has been pretty agreeable from the git-go.
But, the rest? Angry. Resentful. Tough talk. Not showing the necessary respect for this pandemic of ours or doing what’s within their powers to help us all. Many determined to go their own uninformed ways, leaving bodies behind.
Now, suppose this Delta variant gets so far out of hand that CDC deems it necessary to have a nationwide crackdown to stop the threat. Suppose, too, that Biden agrees and issues a mandatory vaccination order. How would the top executives of nearly all the red states react? How many “Nos” and “Hell Nos” would you hear?
Then what happens?
I had a dream the other night. A political sort of dream. In that dream, we were still a nation of two political parties. But, not the parties we know and have lived with for more than a century. No, in my dream, the two parties were “Red” and “Blue.” Red states and blue states.
And, when there were contested national races, the underlying goal was to convert a state of the other color to yours. Say your candidate wins the White House, maybe you change the other color to yours and, at least temporarily, your color becomes more dominant. Or catches up.
Fanciful? Of course. Not realistic? Could be. Never happen? Never?
The national political alignment we’ve had is being stretched out of shape. The divisions between Democrats and Republicans are growing wider each day. The old coalitions offering different-but-compatible views on issues are all but gone. Coalitions, today, are more aligned with differing views on things within the same party.
Last week’s Ohio congressional race not only pitted Democrat against Democrat, it was the “progressive” versus the “moderate.” Head-to-head. Bernie Sanders and his “horse” against Jim Clyburn and his horse. Very different views. The “moderate horse” won. Republicans had 11 runners to choose from. Statistically, a guy could win with 10% of the vote. And you’d call him the “winner?” Really?
Democrats have long had the habit of not sticking together. Once successful - candidate or party - there’s an almost instant kerfuffle. Used to be called the “circular firing squad.” Republicans, too, split and split again. Used to be “left to right.” Now, it’s “right to righter.”
After the Boomers, the next couple of “generations” coming up aren’t “joiners.” The terms “Democrat” and “Republican” aren’t seen as important. It’s the candidate - regardless of party - or the issue - regardless of party. The long-term maintenance of a political party will not be seen as important as it is today.
So, what will we have? Maybe “red” and “blue?”
This scenario is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Over the last 245 years of our history, we’ve had many political parties. Standing for many political reasons. Politics and permanence are not necessarily bedfellows.
Given the upcoming generation’s seeming indifference to “joining” and... given the political splits and warfare of our current dealings and... given the tests we’re being put to by COVID and all its variants and the larger effects on our nation collectively...a lot of things are changing around us.
Might it come down to “one nation?” Or “two?”