You know the story. A system designed from its inception to favor empty geographical space over actual humans has allowed a minority of provincial, ignorance-celebrating zealots to utterly confound and rend asunder national civic life, their flames fanned by the opulent boor they have anointed as their messiah.
Innocents are murdered by a 17-year-old with an assault rifle, and they cheer him on. An infectious disease kills nearly 200,000 of their fellow citizens, and they deny the pandemic is even happening. Peaceful protesters are gassed, beaten, arrested, and disappeared, and they cry for more. The Postal Service is sabotaged from within in order to rig an election, public health agencies are disfigured into becoming the president’s public relations and propaganda outfits, while corruption and criminality are not only tolerated but boastfully flaunted from the White House.
Those with power who oppose any of this? They are concerned. They express their concerns in tweets. No one does anything.
Or, seeing that they can’t beat the fascists, they join them. I’m not talking about the Republican Party, which has had fascism in its DNA since the civil rights movement scared all the racists into the GOP. I’m talking about people who know better. People I have looked up to. People who think that the existential threat to civilization is not climate change, deadly pandemics, or authoritarianism, but being disagreed with. People who think that making sure a store window is never broken is worth flooding city streets with storm troopers to beat and detain dissenters. Sensing their positions of privilege might be even slightly encroached upon, they clutch their pearls and cry for their demagogue to protect them.
Equality was fine when all the “equal people” stayed down there.
There are so many of us who do not want this. It might even be most of us. There is a nation full of us. But we are knotted up with a wholly separate nation from an alternate reality, two countries existing simultaneously in the same space, as though by some feat of quantum mechanics. But the nation of madness, the one with the guns and the white supremacists and the storm troopers and the fundamentalists and the jealous privileged class, is the one in control.
Bizarro has Superman in an inescapable chokehold. We are trapped.
Don’t think for a moment that the denizens of the nation of maniacs don’t know this. They revel in it. Their hatred of difference, their intolerance of dissent, and their need to feel constantly victimized give them purpose and identity. They would have it no other way. A hostage-taker has no power without hostages.
I have had it with being a hostage. I want out. This isn’t working. And it’s literally killing us.
We need to acknowledge, as a polity, that these two visions of what a society should look like are utterly incompatible, and that those who wish to live in one cannot possibly coexist with those who wish to live in the other. If you believe in the inherent worth and equality of every human being, you cannot find any practicable common ground with someone who believes that people of a different ethnicity are subhuman or intrinsically criminal. If you believe that everyone has the right to their own beliefs about religion and that one’s faith should have no role in the operation of the state, you are not going to have a productive relationship with someone who is entirely certain that the creator of the Universe has commanded us to have one specific form of government dictated by this deity’s wishes. If you accept and rely on the mechanisms of science and evidence in matters of public health and safety, you are not only in conflict, but literally endangered, when trying to collaborate with someone who thinks science is a lie and that pandemics and climate change are hoaxes.
David Frum says President Trump’s divisiveness makes him a “secessionist from the top.” Responding to Trump’s convention speech, he writes, “Since we are two countries, we can have two sets of laws and rules: one for friends, another for enemies. … Two countries, two classes of citizen, two systems of law.” Trump’s America, Red America, is (and always has been) at war with Blue America.
Well, not if we walk away. You can’t have a war without someone to fight.
I don’t think Trump is a secessionist from the top, because he needs this civil war. His entire tribe does. But I want to deny them that. I say weleave.
Because a nation-state can’t actually function as though in a quantum superposition, I suppose some form of defined geography, some kind of political border, is necessary. So we retreat to the blue states with the most welcoming populations and the most room. Maybe it’s New England and the West Coast. Through overwhelming electoral numbers, we make our new nations’ dominant politics untenable for the regressivists still residing, until they decide of their own volition to get enlightened or get out. An authoritarian-loving Trumpist feeling out of place in the great West Coast American Nation can pack up and head for the fascist hills whenever he wants. Idaho is right over there.
Assuming they accept immigrants.
We can start over. We can start arguing among ourselves about policy. We’ll have free and fair elections to hammer out our various conflicts, and we’ll probably get really mad at each other about an endless list of things. But we’ll do it in a spirit that at least approaches good faith, based on the same shared set of facts and the same basic understanding that we’re all of equal worth and dignity.
And when we look over our borders, into the great span of land that constitutes our fascist neighbor, we may shudder at their fever dreams of manifest destiny, but then we’ll take a deep breath and feel that enormous sense of relief that comes from knowing that we once were trapped there, but now we are free.