Deep divisions

E. J. Dionne writes in today's Washington Post about the deepening divisions in the United States as a result of party politics.

The red states get redder, the blue states get bluer, and the political map of the United States takes on the coloration of the Civil War.

Nobody, of course, is pulling out rifles or cannon. But Tuesday's election results in state and local contests suggest that an already politically divided country got a little more so. We are divided by region and by race, but above all by party. It's been a long time since partisanship was as deep as it is now.

As someone who has no interest in either of the two existing political parties, or any political party for that matter, I see this as a good sign.

It is 138 years since the Civil War ended. But in politics, the past isn't just history. In the Democratic presidential race, Howard Dean is under attack for talking kindly, sort of, about the guys with Confederate flags on their trucks. In Mississippi, Republican Barbour raised a defense of the Confederate flag to help himself win an election. Up in heaven, Abe Lincoln must be shaking his head in astonishment. The country he sought to keep united is pulling apart politically, and largely along the same lines that defined Honest Abe's election victory in 1860.

Maybe the solution to the united country being pulled apart politically is to let the divisions take their course. Isn't that what civilized people do? If they can't live together, what is so wrong about living apart? Rather than continuing the relentless struggle to hold power over each other, maybe the best solution is to let the two sides go their separate ways.

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Well, ironically, that's

Well, ironically, that's what the Confederacy's argument amounted to. I happen to think they were right on the central issue of secession, even if they were wrong on the catalyst for it, slavery. Lincoln said explicitly that his aim was to "preserve the union," and that if he could do so without freeing a single slave, he would. It's arguable that in many ways, that's exactly what he did.

The bottom line is the Civil War taught us how free Americans would ever be from the federal government, and how seriously it would ever take its Constitutional strictures. For better or for worse, we're stuck with each other.

I'm not a neo-Confederate, but I do recognize that America's ideological division isn't resolvable, really. There are, broadly speaking, two mutually exclusive views on how the country ought to govern itself. It's a battle the good guys will lose, as on this matter they invariably do.

"Rather than continuing the

"Rather than continuing the relentless struggle to hold power over each other, maybe the best solution is to let the two sides go their separate ways. "

Oddly enough, Mark Strauss said the same thing a couple years ago. It's true what they say: politics makes for strange bedfellows.