This is what I sent to the Austin American Statesman a week or so ago. I never heard back from them, so am assuming they are not planning on printing it. So I’m posting it here.
These un-United States of America
During this past election season, I have seen many, many signs of just how these United States of America are no longer united. We are torn apart by ideology, by religion, by racism, by bigotry. We have had states assert rights which they do not rightfully have, and which no-one seems to have enough courage to tell them this. We have a bully pulpit, and a bully political system. Much of our electorate seems to be owned by big-money interests, and they are using their financial clout to terrify their own employees into doing what they tell them to do. I weep for this country of mine.
When this country was being torn apart by civil war, southern states seceded because they wanted to keep their slaves. The war was about economics as much as it was about the wrongfulness of owning human beings. The southern plantations and east-central tobacco farms wanted to keep their slave labour because it didn’t cost them as much as hiring employees and paying fair wages. So they split off from the federal government. And brother fought against brother, father against son, cousin against cousin, family and friends against family and friends. It was not a proud moment in our heritage.
After the Civil War, those states that broke off from the Union petitioned England to recognize them as a separate confederacy – England, the very country they had warred against just 89 years before for freedom. But England ignored them. So slowly, beginning with Tennessee, which ratified the Civil Rights Act of 1865, was re-admitted into the Union. This was followed by South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Virginia in 1868, when they ratified the 14th Amendment. Finally, in 1870, Texas and North Carolina were finally readmitted when they ratified the 15th Amendment.
But there has not been a truly United States since then, other than perhaps during the World Wars I and II, and then just for short periods of time. Because racism and bigotry never quite went away in most of those original states belonging to the Confederacy, even after de-segregation. Then as the world became more unstable, and countries started fighting countries again, over land, over heritage, over wealth, the United States, which was established as a country where beaten-down peoples could escape dictatorships, stared taking in refugees, we became a truly diverse country, with every race and creed imaginable.
But there are now those who simply have never learned to accept this diversity. The older white people of my generation, and perhaps to some extent the generation behind mine. This bigotry showed up in a big way during this last election when there were officials who tried to stifle their votes. And this brings up my first lesson. The Right to Vote is not a State’s Right. It is a Federal Right. I wrote letters to the Supreme Court, to various newspapers, to various officials, explaining this. I cited the Constitution of the United States (if you haven’t read it lately, you should). I cited a case from 1966 which the Supreme Court settled in favour of the plaintiff over the state of South Carolina trying to stop a minority citizen from voting with the ruling that if anyone has voted in a previous election, they have the right to vote in the current election, as long as their registration is up-to-date, which should be automatic by the state as long as the citizen has voted in a previous election within the year. I have noted several cases of this same kind since the one in 1966. I certainly expect the present Supreme Court to back up this very same judgement, and does not reverse either of the Civil Rights’ Acts since those are for the protection of the minorities who seem to be the targets. Since the members of the Supreme Court have their jobs for life, unless they resign, they need not fear the anger of those who disagree with their judgements, so long as they stay within the Constitution.
I will be expecting to see the right to vote set up in each and every state as it is in every other state – standard ballots, standard machines, standard rules of early voting and election day voting – in this process of “fixing” the system after so many voters stood in line for so many hours, refusing to give up their right to vote just because one person tried to make it difficult for them to vote.
Another thing I would like to see changed is if any church/religious entity believes they have the right to tell their parishioners to vote, and do it from their bully pulpits, then I want to see those churches taxed, at least for the land they sit on, and the building they use. Those things are not holy ground, as some would wish, but land that the once United States gave them for their use. As long as it was being used for spiritual things, I had no problem. But once they became places for politics, they were no longer spiritual. I think that every minister that preached politics from their pulpit be released from their jobs if their congregation wants to retain their tax free status as a spiritual entity.
These United States were not founded on Christianity. Many of the Founding Fathers were Deists, men who believed in God, but not a divine Christ. This is why church was left out of the Constitution, as Mr. James Madison wrote, to keep the bloody fields of other countries on the behalf of religion out of our country. It is good that Mr. Madison is not alive to see how some power-loving preachers have twisted the intent of those Founding Fathers.
Finally, I wish to make it illegal for any CEO to threaten his/her employees with retribution should they vote for a man that CEO does not back. The vote is still a free vote for every single citizen of these un-United States, and trying to terrorize them over their vote should be made a federal crime.
I see now that there are members of states petitioning for separation from the United States of America. It does not appear to be limited to the red states, a few blue states are also petitioning. I do not think, in any case, that it is the officials of those states who are doing the petitioning, but certain citizens of those states who still live in a state of bigotry, racism, and just plain selfishness. My own state of Texas has the most petitioners of all, even though our Republican Governor does not agree with them. Texas itself would be a difficult state to secede successfully since the largest cities, except for Fort Worth, are all in counties that are blue. Only three states in the Union went all red/pink – Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia. Every other states has some blue counties in it, even if there is just one such as Kansas and Nebraska. When I learned of this yesterday, I took my map of counties and started trying to carve up the country into two sections – one to accommodate the reds, one to accommodate the blues. And then that would make the Independents, the Libertarians, the other political parties, have to choose one section or the other. And force many other people to move. This would also mean perhaps that Wyoming, if it became part of the red section, would have to give over Yellowstone National Park to a spot where both red and blues could visit. I thought about Utah, but the Utah Jazz pro-basketball team would have to relocate to another city. Or how about Kansas having to give up Kansas City because the Kansas City Chiefs are in Missouri. Or maybe they would just have to leave as well.
I could go on and on about this, but there is only one real solution that I can see. It is a rather drastic one, but perhaps the only one. That would be for all of the people of my generation to finally die off. I’m not in a hurry to die, and I am definitely a liberal, tolerant, soul, but the majority of the people in my generation are not like that, sadly. So we need to die out. The generation right after me might not be at quite the level of tolerance and live and let live as would be ideal to return these un-United States back to the United States, but it would be a start. I would imagine that by the time it gets to my granddaughter’s generation, we would be a United States once again, a place where the future really does lie, and people can all work together again.
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