As a self confessed progressive and blue state snob (or vice versa) as I watched the republican convention I thought to myself "Who are these people?" No, that's not what I thought -- what I thought was, "where do they find these people?" And, "how do they fit so many white ones into such a large space without a single black delegate in sight?" Oh, wait, stop the camera. I think I see one. Over there. Oh, no, that's an electrician fixing a lightbulb. Does he count?
Several years ago John Edwards (yes, that JE) spoke about two Americas, but he was essentially referring to the misallocation of wealth in this country. There is that, of course, but I am speaking about a renewed cultural divide, one more vast than the increasingly stretched elastic waist bands of our portly population. Stop the presses! I've just found a commonality that links us together as a nation- Diabetes and high triglycerides! That's certainly a good start. But surely for a nation to thrive, the citizens ought to have a bit more in common than a propensity for high fructose corn syrup and Lipitor prescriptions. (Of course our drug companies might disagree but that's another article.)
Todd Palin ( the first dude of you-know-who) has been criticized for attending some separatist movement meetings, but perhaps he didn't go far enough.
Perhaps the question is not should Alaska secede from the US, but rather should red and blue state America stay together or seek an annulment after 232 years of a mostly rocky marriage. I say annulment rather than divorce because for many of us this marriage has never been consummated. For example, did you know that it is still against the law in some places for a person from eastern Mississippi to sleep with someone from western Utah? Yes, I know they're both red states, and that's even if both parties are drunk! The same thing goes for people from northern New Jersey and southern Montana although showering in boxer shorts is perfectly legal.
The point is, nothing says we all have to stay together. In the immortal words of Rodney King ( Rodney is still going strong according to my anonymous source- Wikipedia) "Can't we all just get along?" Well, in a word -- a resounding unequivocal "NO!!" No, we can't. And I can see no reason to continually put us through this agony year after year.
Because let's face it. Even when things are good, they are bad, and when things are really good they are even worse! Just ask the Republicans how they felt after eight years of Clinton. Economic activity was strong, wages were up, unemployment was down, and -- and -- we had a budget surplus. But even then, a bunch of the population was hopelessly miserable. Of course, now 80% of the population says it's miserable, although of that 80%, 30% say they want to see the same things done the same way, by the same people in the same party to achieve essentially the same results, except better for them and worse for you and me.
No wonder we're all eating too much sugar.
When I hear the republicans speak of their vision for the future, I see a half- blind person with glaucoma running dangerously low on medical marijuana. When Cindy McCain says that Sara Palin has the necessary foreign policy experience to be vice president because Alaska is next to Russia, I wonder if I drive by Yankee Stadium, will I begin to hit like A Rod? It's experience through some kind of cosmic transcendental osmosis. By this logic a young woman who has a baby immediately qualifies to be Chief of Obstetrics for the World Health Organization.
When Rudy Giuliani talks about executive experience I think of a classified ad for a burger stand that said "executive experience for all those who stay six months." Does that mean someone qualifies to be vice president after six months of flipping burgers? Or do they have to be moose burgers? A zen master once remarked "Language is the straight jacket of experience." Now I don't know if this guy was a republican but he was definitely on to something because the Republicans are brilliant in the way they manipulate words, reframe them, distort them, and create a whole other reality. They utilize language, not to define or describe events, but to release it from it's moorings, to utterly transpose it, so that language and experience, for that matter, come to mean anything at all.
War is peace; torture is freedom; Mommy experience equals vice presidential preparation. I even heard one woman interviewed by CNN say that Palin would be able to address the trade deficit because as a mother she handled the purse strings for the home. Huh? I mean, so does my 86 year old neighbor, but take my word for it -- you don't want her debating credit default swaps with Treasury Secretary Paulson.
Listen, we're never going to agree on anything, so let's at least have a trial separation. A little red and blue space -- what do you say? So let's get started.
First of all just as in all separations or divorces property must be re- distributed. Let's begin with the Army. The reds get half and the blues get the other half. Yes, it is true there would be only ½ as many troops with whom to go to war, but the bright side is that there would probably be enough armor and protective clothing for everyone. After all, you go to war with the army you have, not the one you want to have. I forget who said that. But somebody did.
The second most important question is what do we do with all these Starbucks. I say keep them where they already are -- in the red states, in the blue states, Europe, Asia, Mars, Pluto, and Venus. I hear they are presently trying to open one on Mercury but they are having trouble coming up with a recipe for a chocolate iced latte. But they'll figure it out.
Let's move on to sports. The revenue of sports teams will be shared but all NHL coaches will be fired and replaced by red state moms missing their front teeth. (Sorry, Sarah, that leaves you out) NFL teams will continue to play each other, however, in blue states all field goals will be kicked with the left foot. There will be no exceptions.
As for culture, we in the blue states will assume sole possession of films. Reds can have movies. We'll take films by Scorsese, Chabrol, Inarritu, Almodovar and any film where Penelope Cruz remembers to speak Spanish. You guys can have any movie, that "opens Friday, starts everywhere- now showing at a theater near you."
And, yes, we know red state folks read, but too often we see you reading those short fat paperback books that are sold at the airport. By all means, keep them all. We'll take Paul Auster, Don Delilo, Saramago, and Sebald. You can have James Patterson, Jackie Collins and anything written by Nicholas Sparks, and Dean Koontz. Personally I think that's a pretty good deal, insofar as James Patterson alone writes between 9 and12 books every month.
Now I realize there will be some blue state citizens who will mourn the loss of Dean Koontz as they travel to the beach each summer, look at the open sky and lament, "Now what am I supposed to read." But I say to you, my fellow blue state constituents -- "Tighten your resolve." Nation building, or as in this case, nation dividing does not come without sacrifice. So, take a deep breath, spread your blanket over the blistering sand and remember: You go to the beach with the books you have, not the books you want to have.
I forget who said that. But somebody did.