The divided states of America

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Published: 5/20/2019 12:51:04 PM

America’s new civil war needs a solution because nothing in sight will resolve our differences. While we may disagree on how to describe our political mess, please consider the following facts:

Georgia recently became the fourth state to pass a so-called “heartbeat” law that makes abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat is first detected. Other states — Mississippi, Kentucky & Ohio – already passed the law. Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia are pushing similar laws. Alabama’s House just passed a bill that outlaw abortion. North Dakota and Iowa had their laws blocked by the courts.

In March 2017, Arkansas passed a law that required women seeking an abortion to obtain written permission first from the men who impregnated them. This February, the new House Speaker of Florida’s legislature referred to pregnant women as ‘host bodies’ five times during a media interview.

A quick review of the 2016 election results shows Clinton/Democrats winning all six New England states, all mid-Atlantic states (NY, NJ, DE, VA, MD, DC) except Pennsylvania, and all West Coast states (WA, OR, CA, HI, plus NV, NM, Minnesota, IL and Colorado.

Picture how the results look on a color-coded map. Then overlay that map with the states which have highly restrictive abortion laws.

For a change of pace, add another layer that includes states with strong gun control laws — including CA, CT, CO, DC, Maryland, Massachusetts, NJ and NY.

Do we see a pattern emerging or is the map similar to what we might have seen in 1865?

What about education? Surely this is an important issue when understanding our political divide. The top 25 states in Overall Education* include all of New England and the mid-Atlantic and west coast states. Add Minnesota (again), Illinois, and a handful of states where few people live — Utah, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming.

What about state ranking by environment stewardship – clean water, clean air, strong environmental regulations, etc. Surprise!

The top 20 eco-friendly states voted Democratic, have well-educated citizens, strong gun control laws, and fewer abortion restrictions. Ok, South Dakota somehow found itself in the top 20 environmental states. Go figure.

(Data taken from Wallethub.com but choose other rankings to get similar results.)

Just for kicks, let’s look at the quality of healthcare systems. OMG! The top 20 states include all of New England, most of the Mid-Atlantic states, Minnesota and Hawaii. A few northern outliers also made the list. (Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota (again), Utah, Nebraska, Ohio and Michigan)

All of this information probably comes as no surprise but we need creative solutions — ones that don’t include violence like the last time over 150 years ago.

There is one solution — a radically democratic and economically progressive scheme — where politicians on each side can work together to unite people from New England to El Paso and Los Angeles to Detroit. Our leaders can stop fighting each other and collaborate on building the two countries we’ve become.

The two countries — Progressive America and Gilead — will embrace our differences so people can choose to live where guns are regulated, education opportunities are high, the environment is strongly protected, women have full control over their reproductive choices and healthcare is optimized. Or, people can choose to live in the other country — the one called Gilead.

Politicians will spend their time negotiating trade with Canada and Mexico, our North American neighbors. Progressive America, for example, might offer Gilead new healthcare products or duty-free clean water in exchange for travel to LGBTQ Safe Free Sun Zones in St. Pete, Naples, Miami, Orlando, New Orleans, Austin, Atlanta and a few other places.

A key social and economic justice component to any Progressive America and Gilead agreement will be financial assistance for relocation. For example, Progressive America might offer to buy back handguns and assault rifles from people who want to live without those weapons. Ms. Pelosi can offer to sell the weapons at a discount to Sen. McConnell or Sen. Graham.

Lots of negotiating will be required and our country (take your pick) will be united again! Everyone will have the opportunity to live proudly in a country that reflects shared values and social priorities.

JJ White is a resident of Greenfield.




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