Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A thought

[This is not the '10 things...' post I was commenting on yesterday. This one I've been thinking about for a few days and finally wrote it down today. Feedback would be welcome on your thoughts.]

Nearly perfectly divided.

The question is simple: will America ever split up?

The answer seems obvious: of course not, we're America!

But I'm not so sure it's that simple.

Let's look at issues that people feel strongly about - I'll discuss gay marriage in depth since it's fairly significant today, but in the past it's been stem cell research, religion/Christianity in government, gun control, War on Terrorism/Iraq, etc.

We've all heard about Prop 8 in CA, which passed with 52.3% for and 47.7% against [
source]. What this translates into is 5,977,457 people voting for it and another 5,457,416 voting against it. I've heard people make arguments like "if the courts overturn Prop 8 then that'll mean they're telling 6 million Californians that their opinions don't count" - well, ok, but on the other hand right now they're telling 5.5 million Californians that their opinion doesn't count by leaving it passed. Then you've got states like AZ and FL that both banned gay marriages as well. On the other side, CT and MD have both allowed it (CT just today held it's first gay marriage ceremony). Obama and Biden have both stated that they support civil unions but don't believe in changing the definition of marriage from being between a man and a woman. This basically means it's left to a state level, but it seems it's entirely possible it could become a national one - it's not beyond reason it will at some point. When that happens, I see California as a good indicator of what'll occur: the nation will be divided almost 50/50, and one side will win by a narrow margin.

Next let's move to presidential elections. Just last week, the 2008 elections ended up as such:

  • Obama - 364 (52%) electoral votes - 65,098,323 (53%) popular vote
  • McCain - 162 (48%) electoral votes - 57,155,296 (47%) popular vote
Looking back further: 2004:
  • Bush - 286 (53%) electoral votes - 62,028,285 (51%) popular vote
  • Kerry - 251 (47%) electoral votes - 59,028,109 (49%) popular vote
  • Bush - 271 (50.3%) electoral votes - 50,456,002 (48.4%) popular votes
  • Gore - 266 (49.7%) electoral votes - 50,999,897 (48.9%) popular votes
  • Nader - 0 (0%) electoral votes - 2,882,955 (2.7%) popular votes
  • Clinton - 379 (70%) electoral votes - 47,402,357 (50%) popular votes
  • Dole - 159 (30%) electoral votes - 39,198,755 (41%) popular votes
  • Ross Perot - 0 (0%) electoral votes - 8,085,402 (9%) popular votes
[source, source]

If you follow the sources you can do your own research and look at the history of elections. While Bush/Gore was arguably the closest election, they've been quite close for awhile, and each year the number of voters grows. Obama alone had as many votes this year as the total number of voters in 1956. One way to look at that is that there are as many people that supported Obama in this last election as made up the voting popular (or at least, the population that actually voted) in 1956. No one in 1956 would have questioned whether or not there were enough people to form a nation or stand on their own; of course there were. So it's obvious that there are enough people on each side to make up a nation. After all, each year ~50 million Americans were passed over on their opinions because ~60 million Americans said so. This is not a minor factor in how politics works - the President has enormous power over what the nation does and how it interacts with other nations (as Bush has proven).

What would keep them from standing up and saying "we don't agree" and seceding? Is it impossible to think that, in 10, 20, or 50 years that almost half the nation may decide they're tired of not being listened to when it comes to their opinions just because slightly more than half the nation disagrees with them and split off to form their own nation? forming two nations: the Republican United States of America and the Democratic United States of America? Following the trends, the majority of the RUSA would be conservative/Christian and the DUSA would be liberal/unaffiliated. Looking at the history of politics, it doesn't seem far fetched that this could happen; the Civil War being the most obvious example, though I imagine if it happened again it'd be more political and less militant.

Every four years it seems almost inevitable that it will happen eventually.

I wonder when/if it finally will.

[Please note: I do not support nor am I lobbying for the United States to break up; this is just an observation.]

1 comment:

nae4blue said...

We saw a lot more purple this year than anything else. No state would split based on personal beliefs. If they did, it'd be torn down on the city block level creating chaos.

Economically, however, it might be more feasible for the country to decentralize. On a much lower scale, we see people from large cities de-urbanizing or relocating to smaller outskirt settlements and which may or may not eventually develop into suburbs.

I could see the United States splitting into four separate "countries," perhaps Midwest, West, Northeast, Southeast... I could see financial laws becoming more strict, morality better defined, but an open trade agreement between the four entities.