This is a year of fiftieth anniversaries. My generation looks back and tries to remember, no longer such an easy task for many of us, made harder by all that has gone between.
1963-before those who now effortlessly pull strings pulled any string at all-before most can remember-before even Vietnam-was momentous. For me, most of all because of the seasons of assassinations it began.
The killing of JFK set in motion events and, most of all, attitude changes in America from which we will never recover. Never. There was no greater shock in my lifetime. Nothing has lasted like it.
That it shocked me so much says a great deal about how sheltered my life has been, about my social status, class, race, and religion. I count my blessings daily.
But I am as good a representative of average as you are apt to find from my generation, so I shan’t let those particulars stop me from speaking as if my experience was ours all.
I, a privileged white college student at the time, noticed the famous March on Washington, and was shocked by Medgar Evers’ murder, the bombing in Birmingham, was sickened by my subspecies irrational hatred of our brothers, but was also largely unmoved, as far as actually being willing to take any action, until they shot Kennedy.
As I had grown up, assassination was a subset of the study of our greatest President, a footnote to our most infamous and destructive war, but not a tactic usable by any rational being, no matter how great a sociopath he might be. When Kennedy died, I remember one thought pounding through my head, over and over again: how are we to go forward if every man possesses a veto?
And the question reverberates today, even if the current version does vary somewhat: how are we to go on, so long as the right wing exercises its veto without restraint? If we vote them out, what will stop one of them from proving their craziness by using his personal “second amendment right” to exercise his veto?
The legacy lives on. We are no longer Americans first and foremost. We are Americans of the left or Americans of the right. Perhaps we have not been united since before the Civil War. We are a house divided, and nothing the one wing advocates seems to bring the other around. I, certainly, see nothing appealing in them.
I propose that our only course forward now is to allow secession. When the right decided to oppose everything the left had gained during the election of 2008, despite a vast majority on the other side, and when the left decided under Obama to let them get by with it throughout 2008-2010, a precedent was set I see no return from.
New York and California no longer should stay in a union with Florida and Texas. They want out so badly, let them go.
If the Civil war was more about preserving the Union than freeing the slaves, as Lincoln always insisted, I say let it be agreed the South won. That would make them so happy (the whites at least), and I would certainly feel better not having to apologize to most Europeans about primitive policies within my own country. The North might even be civilized enough to adopt single-payer health care.
The details would have to be worked out, including property issues and a free-flow of present citizenry across borders for several years so that probable draconian policies in the South against people who are currently Americans might be avoided by them, but that would be much better in the long run than perpetual stalemate brought on by obstinate people who insist on having it their way or no way at all.
Short of resolution, the way we are going spells only the total end of anything resembling the American Dream. As long as we let everyone exercise their veto, there remains no way forward.