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File under “A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words”:
I was about to write a post lamenting the polar division in our country, and wondering why we can’t seem to find political unity, as we seemed to find during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. But then I got to thinking, the 60s were not a model of unity either. After all, Civil Rights would not have been an issue for both parties to rally behind if there were not already deep divisions in the country over the matter, divisions that remain to this day.
Then I saw this mornings commentary in the Star Tribune: “The United States — a nation of nations” http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/190451751.html and realized our tendency to divide our into “us” and “them” is nothing new, it is as old as our country. And it is never as simple as “blue” and “red”.
The article describes that author Colin Woodard has discovered eleven distinct cultural regions of the country, whose boundaries have remained in place, practically unchanged, for generations since Europeans first arrived and spread through the contentment.
Our nation’s differences have never been as simple as “us” against “them”. It is a constant balancing of distinct differences in culture and values that has been in place for generations. The amazing thing is not these cultural differences, every region on the Earth has them. The amazing thing is our ability for over 200 years to keep pulling together in spite of this tension, and not falling apart into eleven distinct countries, similar to what happened when the Soviet Union collapsed.
This helps me re-shape the picture of the divided state legislature, above, from one of despair to one of hope that we can work things out in the end, just like we have always done. Sure, half of are sitting while the other half applauds. But at least we are all in the same room together, talking to each other, listening, and not throwing chairs at each other. Let us hope it always remains that way for our country!
continent, no contentment But perhaps contentment describes well what the Europeans messed around with when they arrive here?
Nicely said, Curtis. I read the first couple lines of your comment, thought of that article in the Strib, and was glad to see that’s where you were going. You’ve helped me understand it more, too.
Interesting. I thought we were told during the last campaign that Minnesotans didn’t need to worry about gay marriage, it was too divisive, we should focus on economy, only a campaign gimmick, etc. Now it appears it isn’t divisive and the economy can wait. I wonder what changed?
We were told all sorts of things. There was plenty of speculation from all sides on what a Democratic-controlled state government would do. I’m sure the economy, especially finding a long-term solution to Minnesota’s chronic budget shortfalls, is still top priority. Gay marriage has not moved beyond lip service — there are no legislative proposals being talked about. But it is historic and meaningful lip service, nonetheless.
Right, though bills are certainly expected. What I don’t understand is how we are permitted to talk about gay marriage in Minnesota today when it was too divisive just a few short months ago?
I didn’t know people in Minnesota needed permission to talk.
That’s what we were told: can’t talk about it, too divisive, too upsetting, just a wedge issue, etc. A cynical person might say there is a double standard: agree with me? We need open discussion!! Disagree with me? Stay quiet, you are divisive!!
Patrick, if we’re really going to start holding politicians and politicos to what they say during elections, then let’s do it across the board.
You miss my point (and how sad that we should “start” holding them accountable for what they say while campaigning).
Those who opposed gay marriage were demonized and told it was too divisive to talk about. Now that the supporters won, they have dramatically changed their tune. Now it is ok to talk about it (after the election, how convenient). The hypocrisy is rank. Instead of trying to prove support for gay marriage was the right policy choice, they demonized those who opposed it (haters, angry, etc.).
Discuss stuff, share ideas, disagree. That is healthy — and what is done on this blog.
The divisiveness of banning gay marriage was not the only critique of the proposed ban. It was pretty far down the list of critiques, as I recall.
The train of acceptance of homosexuality left the station at least 20 years ago. Neither side has control over the conversation at this point. The conversation will continue, despite all the political posturing.