This has been the ugliest, most brutal political season in my memory. Pundits are a bit more vicious, the politicians are a bit more radical and the extreme members of each party are given more airtime by scandal hungry 24-hour news networks. Politics has always been a dirty business, but today it seems so much mud is slung that we've forgotten we are one country, one nation.
Then again, maybe we aren't.
If you ask "What is an American", there are plenty of possible answers. Every stereotype from John Wayne to Pamela Anderson springs to mind. So do the likes of Bill Gates and Donald Trump. There is no one answer.
We are supposed to be, after all, a melting pot; individuals who come together to form a greater whole, no less themselves and the whole stronger for it. It seems today, however, some of us refuse to blend but insist that the rest of the cheeses get the heck out.
We're seeing people trying to pass laws to make birth control illegal, not because they feel that anything they disagree with should not be a right. We see people twisting the National Debate away from the matters of economy and warfare and trying to focus it on questions that belong to theology, not politics, like when does a human being become a human being. We see people grasping and clawing at the fabric of our society, trying to shred the cloth of liberty and weave it into their personal vision of what America is to be.
So here is what I propose to those who are certain the other side is not merely populated with people who disagree, but who are intent on destroying the United States as a whole.
Tell us where to go.
We split up the US. We can do it North To South or East to West, I don't care. Maybe diagonally from the tip of South Carolina to somewhere near Seattle. Make a horse-shoe going from California to Washington state, trough North Dakota, Main and down to the Florida Keys.
I don't care. I'm just tired of people telling me in the Land of the Free who I should live and how their values should dictate my actions.
See, as I understand America, it's not a place where what the majority says goes. Rather, it's the place where men and women can live as the choose so long as their actions neither pick anyone's pockets or break anyone's legs. But that's not enough for some; everything those individuals personally find distasteful must be outlawed. It doesn't matter if almost half the US is in favor of it. 51% is good enough for them.
We see this attitude more on the Right than the Left, but both have their zealots and pedagogues.
So screw it, let's split this baby up.
We'll make Conservatopia and Liberaland. Hell, we can do it three ways and get a Moderateopolis. If you're in favor of gay marriage, go to one corner. Life beginning at conception, go to another. You can live like you want to, free of having your ideas challenged and the rest of us will go somewhere else and live as we feel is reasonable.
Because there is no place for me. I want pot to be legal and education to be a priority. I want people who don't want to have an abortion to be free not to get one, but for those who feel it's an option to have the dignity of being able to keep the matter between them, their doctor and those they choose to involve. I want people to be able to own guns without worrying if they're on a list, but I want people to be able to speak their minds on the internet with the same lack of concern.
I want the America I was promised, dammit. I want the best, most free nation on the Earth and not just the best by default.
If sifting us into piles and putting the people who want the US to be like Mayberry in one place while putting those who want it to be more like the Federation another, then so be it.
But if you're against this, if you think that no one should have to move so that they can live free, if you think that there should be one America and not many, then grow up. Put on your big boy/girl pants and start finding some intestinal fortitude. Do not resort to the cowardice of requiring your ideals be the law of the land, but write the laws so that people can live with the ideals that they choose.
Be an American and learn to live together.
Because the other option is that we just call this wonderful, almost 250 year old experiment a failure and let the last one still fighting for unity to turn out their light on the way out of the door.
Ben Franklin said to the other founding fathers, "We must all hang together, or we will surely all hang separately". I think we've forgotten that sentiment is still true.
Let's hope we remember the wisdom of those words before it's too late, before America is a memory.