We Need To Work Together the Way They Have

The Atlantic has an article called “America Is Growing Apart, Possibly For Good”. It includes a few statistics that show how states with Democratic and Republic political leaders are diverging. 

For example, blue states lead in such factors as life expectancy, gross domestic product per person, median household income, spending on elementary and secondary education, access to health insurance, minimum wage rates, union membership and abortion rights

Red states have more children in poverty, more working households in poverty, more gun deaths, and higher maternal and COVID mortality rates.

It’s also easier to vote in blue states.

David Roberts, who publishes the Volts newsletter on politics and clean energy, cited the Atlantic article and took it from there:

The differences between red & blue America are rising to the surface again after a late-20th century period of anomalous convergence. This isn’t about misunderstanding or incivility or “partisanship” — these are real, deep, fundamental differences in values.

Red America is well into a program of attempting, with a numerical minority, to impose its will & its values on the entire country. It is aided by innumerable biases in the US constitutional system & a wildly unrepresentative Supreme Court.

This is all obvious enough (one would hope) by now, but all I want to add — as someone who woke to find his wife quietly sobbing at her computer & is filled with helpless fury — is that Red America has also been helped over the last several decades by the fact that a large number of people in Blue America refuse to take its side — refuse to take sides at all. Instead go about trying to impress each other with how above-it-all they are, how they see the flaws in both sides, how they’re too clever to just fucking fight.

I’m talking about the self-righteous lefties pissing on “libs”, the self-righteous moderates pissing on the activists, the pundits wringing their hands over process questions & tone policing, the gerontocratic Democrats lost in fantasies of bipartisanship.

Survey the whole landscape & you find legions of people naturally situated on one side of this battle simply refusing to fight it, refusing even to clearly describe the battle lines, mostly out of vanity masquerading as nobility.

Pick your episode — start with the stolen 2000 election, start earlier, whatever — and you find Blue America divided, squabbling, irresolute, taken by surprise again & again, bizarrely resistant to simply identifying Red America for what it is & trying to stop it.

Over & over again, it’s “well, maybe they have a point” or “sure I disagree but let’s not fight” or “if you squint, they’re actually just worried about lost factory jobs” or “the problem is us, we need to spend more time in diners,” on & on ad nauseam.

This isn’t unique to America of course — history provides plenty of examples of the Blue parts of society failing to take the Red parts seriously until it’s too late, only to find themselves swept up in rising autocracy & violence. A certain German example comes to mind.

So let’s make it plain: Red America wants a fundamentalist Christian patriarchal society, with white Christian men on top, protected by the law but not bound by it, & everyone else bound but not protected, begging for leftovers.

If you don’t want that — if you want a multiethnic, multiracial democracy in which every citizen is ensured a basic level of material security & dignity — then it’s time to wrench your gaze away from the ways fellow Blue Americans annoy you (yes, yes, I do too) and fix your gaze on the enemy of rising fascism.

“I’m too clever to be on any team” is over. Nobody’s impressed. Join the fucking fight or get out of the way.


As if the gun ruling and the abortion ruling weren’t enough, the renegade Supreme Court majority is poised to issue a ruling that could fundamentally change the way the federal government functions:

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in the coming days that could curtail the [Environmental Protection Agency’s] ability to drive down carbon emissions at power plants.

But it could go much further than that.

Legal experts are waiting to see if the ruling in West Virginia v. EPA begins to chip away at the ability of federal agencies — all of them, not just EPA — to write and enforce regulations.

It would foreshadow a power shift with profound consequences, not just for climate policy but virtually everything the executive branch does, from directing air traffic to protecting investors [to dealing with pandemics].

Sherilyn Ifill, former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, explains what we need to do to get out of this “democratic freefall”:

We need radical structural reform to the functioning of all three branches of government in this country. Extremists have found the keys to gaming & hijacking the system – in Congress, the White House, & [the Supreme Court].

We have witnessed the vulnerability of the rules that govern each branch of government, which have been weaponized to herd us toward minority rule. Do we have the boldness & courage to reset the rules of government so that they serve democracy? Because that’s the project. It begins with power.

If we hope to remain a democracy then we need to be prepared to fundamentally reset key aspects of how we’ve allowed our government to function (or malfunction): Congress, the Presidency, the Supreme Court. Healthy democracies learn & adjust. Can we? I don’t see how we make it any other way.

It’s a huge job, but we can do it.