A tale of two Americas

Like many people, I’m still reeling from the fact that Tuesday night, Donald Trump was elected our 45th president. I’m saddened, dismayed, fearful, distraught even. But one thing I can’t say that I am is shocked. And that’s because there really are two Americas.

Politicians use that line on the campaign trail frequently. So do pundits. There’s Main St. vs Wall St. There’s red vs blue. There’s rural vs urban. Whites vs minorities. In the post-Trump victory, people were scrambling to figure out which group of voters was responsible. But the division between the two Americas isn’t a demographic one, it isn’t a geographic one. What this election unequivocally demonstrated for me is that the difference between the two Americas is this:

Intellectualism vs anti-intellectualism.

A vote for Donald Trump is a vote against reason, pure and simple. It’s not just a vote to smash the establishment, it’s a vote against everything that science and progress has led us to. And it really highlights the division between Americans:

America A

In this America, people value science and evidence. They allow it to guide policy. They believe in a secular society. They believe that they’re responsible for their fellow man. They believe that things like healthcare and education are rights and an investment. They believe in diversity, that we’re stronger when we’re more inclusive and tolerant. They seek enlightenment and progress. They believe that the height of being human is to learn and explore, and that those are the endeavors that lift everyone up.

America B

In this America, people value the Christian bible over all else. They think that every law and the constitution itself should be interpreted through a biblical lens. They think that expecting one to help everyone succeed is tyranny. They think the individual is stronger than the community, and that a hand up and a hand out are harmful to their fellow man. They think that a cluster of cells is the same thing as a person. They don’t value science and evidence, and don’t see a point in exploration and inclusiveness. They think that business and commerce is the highest thing human beings can aspire to. They think that the planet is something to use rather than safeguard.

Those two Americas can’t coexist. They’re diametrically and thematically opposed to each other. Asking us to unite and act like one country is a waste of time because we really aren’t one country, we aren’t one people. We’re two distinct groups who are trying to share one space and one government. I don’t feel kinship with half this country, or at least with 60 million people in it. And I don’t apologize for that. I shouldn’t have to try and force some sort of positive feeling about someone who’s every action and belief is harmful to my way of life. I shouldn’t be asked to unite with a racist or a bigot. At this point, I feel more kinship with people living in places like Iceland and Denmark than I do with half the people in my own country, because those places reflect the values and ideals that I hold. Asking me to come together with people in rural Pennsylvania is like asking me to feel a special bond with North Korea at this point.

A poignant and symbolic example of this from the past is the Carter/Reagan transition in 1980. During his time in office, Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House. It was during an energy crisis, and it showed that he represented a group of people that were willing to try to innovate and use science to solve their problems, to move forward and seek out alternatives.

When Reagan took office, the first thing he did was rip the solar panels off. It’s an incredibly symbolic act to me. It showed that he represented a group of people who wanted to take two steps back instead of going forward. People who wanted to double down on a solution that didn’t work. People who were either unwilling or unable to exhibit any critical thinking or creativity, and who couldn’t or wouldn’t seek out alternative solutions to problems.

And let me be clear, this is not a liberal vs conservative thing. There are atheist conservatives. There are conservatives who believe in climate change. And there are liberals who are anti-science (vaccines, GMOs). This is simply science vs anti-science. Reason vs anti-reason.

And it becomes clearer and clearer to me as time goes on that this isn’t a sustainable situation. I don’t want to live in America B, and those people don’t want to live in America A. I don’t think anything will ever get better until we finally cut those string and separate. In the aftermath of Trump’s win, many people are talking about petitions for referendums on seceding from the US. I’d gladly sign that and I’d gladly vote yes. I’m sick and tired of having some Hillbilly in Oklahoma decide which policies and people affect my life, just as I’m sure that Hillbilly is tired people from places like California doing the same.

It’s abundantly clear that we don’t want to live together, so it’s time for a divorce.

2americas

 

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4 thoughts on “A tale of two Americas

  1. Ryan, thanks for your openness. I live in California (your America A) where we are facing our fifth year of drought. A climate change denier president will be disastrous for our state, our country, and our planet.

    Will individual states some day secede from the Union? In a future America devastated by the effects of widespread climate disruption, all things are possible.

    1. I feel for your drought situation. Lots of you guys from California are fleeing north to my home state, Oregon. I’m very fearful of what’s going to happen once Trump rolls back environmental laws, guts or eliminates the EPA, and backs out of the Paris climate deal.

      I wish we could all live together, but it’s clear that we can’t. And that we don’t want to. As long as the seceding is ratified by a majority of the state’s population, I think it’s probably the best solution going forward.

  2. It does seem like we are the rural morons against the citified edumacated uppity ups.

    The morons win this round. Now we have to wallow in the results of their ignorance. For the record I don’t really qualify as a citified edumacated uppity up. But I do at least have more than two neurons to rub together.

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