By Karl Sweetman
Any long-term reader of the CuencaHighLife comments section will testify that the tone of those posts has grown noticeably more vitriolic and vituperative over the past few years, especially when the topic involves U.S.politics or culture. This phenomenon is not unique to CHL; the comments sections of virtually all U.S. publications have experienced the same fate. Political arguments seem to bring out the worst of the worst.
A recent CHL commenter expressed complete disgust with both major U.S. political parties and suggested that perhaps it is time to form a third party whose mission would be “to do the best that we can for the most that we can.” I used to believe something similar, i.e., that what we needed was not just one new political party but rather multiple new political parties under a more parliamentary system of government that would have the effect of forcing compromise and conciliation.
However, as the divide between political philosophies became more exaggerated and progressively grew into a gaping chasm, the possibility of meeting anywhere in the middle became an impossible pipe dream. For any who may have held out the slightest hope for such a possibility, the events in Washington, D.C. last week should have rudely shaken them out of their dreamy slumber.
So what’s the solution? How can such huge differences ever be resolved?
Answer: they can’t. Just like a marriage that has gone horribly bad, the solution is *not* forcing two parties who hate each other to stay together “for the kids.” Quoting a September 2020 op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled America Is Over: Let’s Just Split Into Different Countries:
“No one in our country seems happy today. The right is angry. The left is despondent. Our nation reminds me of those married couples who try to stay together for “the children” but end up making everyone around them miserable.
“Maybe it’s time for a breakup. Yes, I know a few Southern states tried this before and it did not turn out too well. I am thinking about something a little less bloody — like Brexit.
“America had a nice run. We won two world wars, gave the world the automobile, nuclear power, the internet, and put men on the moon. But now it just may be time to admit that our country has jumped the shark.”
The idea that there exists some “mushy middle ground” that will pacify warring parties that hold vastly differing views is wishful thinking. The reality is that there is no such “middle ground.”
Think abortion. Gun control. Medicare for all. Drug legalization. Prostitution. Wealth redistribution. Education. Student loans. Immigration. Internet censoring. Government surveillance. Foreign policy. UBI. Foreign aid. The list is endless.
So why not agree to end the marriage equitably and allow a peaceful separation before things completely fall apart? Why not let people “vote with their feet,” choose to live with others who share their political views more closely, and let them govern themselves as they wish?
Would it be as simple as a one-page “no-fault” divorce decree? No, of course not. The process would probably make Brexit look like a walk in the park. But if what we witnessed this summer in numerous city streets and last week in the nation’s capital is any portent of things to come, I’d opt for going our separate ways any day.
Karl Sweetman is a retired orthodontist from Denton, Texas who has lived happily in Ecuador for many years.