Sinclair Lewis’ darkly prescient novel, “It Can’t Happen Here,” chronicles the rise of a populist, fascist president in America who sounds eerily similar to our current “leader.” Although the novel is hyperbolic and often satirical, the parallels to what is occurring currently in this country are chilling — and it was published in 1935.
Against the backdrop of that novel, I was stirred to consider a “modest proposal,” reminiscent of Jonathon Swift’s similarly named 1729 essay, in which he suggests that the solution to overpopulation in Ireland is to eat the children. I offer the following analysis/proposal:
The hypocrisy, misogyny and outrage over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court are not going to subside. I envision no bridge to cross, no amends to make, no “this, too, shall pass.” People’s entrenched beliefs in support of or in opposition to his confirmation are representative of how this country is divided.
“God, guns, and money,” the conclusion MSNBC’s Richard Engel reached after analyzing what separates supporters of the president from those who don’t, is believable. We appear to be locked in disagreement, our differences having been gerrymandered, re-aligned, cemented in a conservative judiciary and now bullied by a truculent president whose main purpose, with the help of a joyous Russia, is to divide us — and it’s working. Therefore, the following proposal would mean much less stress, chaos and potential violence from out-of-control white supremacists whose cause has been legitimized by the president.
I propose a two-state solution, dividing the United States into two actual Red and Blue States (perhaps with better names) — one comprising the various states that adhere to the basic Trumpian way of governing, share Republican values, desire to deregulate environmental protections, demand a fundamentalist religious foundation, etc. The other would comprise states that don’t.
We have been fighting some form of this battle since the Civil War, so let’s just end it. Each state in the country would have a referendum; if 66 percent of its residents chose either Red or Blue, the state would be so identified as a unit in the New Order. Those who disagreed with the majority would be free to move to a state that did represent their values. Once migrations were complete, each of the two new states would elect a president, vice president, members of Congress, and confirm Supreme Court justices, all from within their designated states.
Certainly, border walls would have to be built and pass cards created for each individual, as independent Red or Blue states would necessarily exclude individuals lacking the proper State identification. Military weapons/equipment would be proportionately divided based on the number of people in each State. Due to the geographical proximity among states within the two States, nuclear weaponry would have to be destroyed because the potential for radioactive drift would be too dangerous. Trade would not be permitted between the two States so as to prevent additional acrimony.
The daily shock and outrage fatigue we are all suffering would abate. Then we would be able to divest from our non-stop watching of cable news, detach from the memes of social media, and periodically unplug from our cellphones, since “breaking news” would no longer be breaking. The Red State Stand Your Ground people could arm patrols to monitor all aspects of life; crime would be eliminated. They could open new resource mining in national parks within their boundaries. Blue State people could actually do something about climate change and be free to seek solace in nature and to protect it, in their National Parks.
And finally, several politically neutral zones would be established, areas that were neither Red nor Blue. Like-minded individuals could re-locate to these areas with the understanding that there would be no government, rather an extended community of individuals who chose to practice genuine equality, to share resources, to preserve the environment, to practice the art of compromise and to commit to the common good. In these communities there would be only one rule — the one that is golden.
Marianne Werner lives in Ashland.
(Nov. 8: Byline updated to correct the first name.)