Fort Sumter All Over Again?

My last blog got an almost unanimous response. “You may be right that we need to directly select the President, BUT be realistic – it cannot happen in this century.”

That’s what many people in the South said in 1860. And we all know our bloodiest war quickly followed.

Today it is not North vs. South; it is instead, as the NY Times shows so clearly, basically Urban vs. Rural. That makes pretty clear that a future conflict could not be geographic but be waged over access to money, technology, communications, etc. The military would be used primarily to tamp down hot spots.

Imagine a world where a large percentage of those Red precincts cannot get TV or WIFI, with necessities in short supply and very expensive. Or, if you prefer the reverse, imagine one where residents of populous states are forced to send massive amounts of tax dollars to rural ones because one-third of the population controls 68% of the U.S. Senate.

Whatever the precise contours, this encounter will not be friendly and it is hard to say precisely how it will play out in real time. That said while it may not start tomorrow, I think it is unlikely to last very long.

As you have read before in this blog, my aim has been to figure out how to stress what we ALL have in common rather than to be more divisive.

It is not clear yet to me whether we are on the very brink of such a modern conflict. But, if we stay on the current path, it cannot be very far off.

I am reminded of a great old story.

A new farmer was advised to get a mule to work his farm. He took the advice but could not get the mule to budge. He asked his neighbor how to deal with the mule. The advice was to speak normally and nicely in simple words. He tried that to no avail. He asked his neighbor again. The neighbor asked if he had a two-by-four. The new farmer said: “What do I need that for?” The answer was simple: “You got to get its attention.”

That is more or less where we are today. Evidently, it is still sweet-talk to the mule time.

Perhaps we should lace our sweet talk with some two-by-fours from time to time to send a signal of what might happen if they do not budge.

We cannot wait too long because the present deck is already stacked against us in the Judiciary, and Congress (specifically the Senate), will inexorably become less friendly over time as rural states grow in influence and power.

The time is now to address this unhappy reality! Our first two-by-four is, of course, this November’s elections. Let’s hope, for our country’s sake, that the results of that election are a solid “thwack” against the status quo.


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