The Divided States of America

Washington Post pundit Dan Balz has a problem:

Political polarization has ushered in a new era in state government, where single-party control of the levers of power has produced competing Americas.

Republican states have pursued economic and fiscal strategies built around lower taxes, deeper spending cuts and less regulation.... They have clashed with labor unions.... moved to restrict abortion rights or to enact voter-identification laws....

Yes, yes, all true. Yet, at the same time, as Balz also notes:

Blue states have also been forced to cut spending, given the budgetary pressures caused by the recession. But... a number of them also have raised taxes.... They have backed the president on the main elements of his health-care law.... Legaliz[ed] same-sex marriages, provid[ed] easier access to voting and... impos[ed] more restrictions on guns.

Needless to say, with the exception of cutting spending, conservatives likely oppose all of the blue state policies Balz lists, just as Balz surly has problems with many, perhaps even all, of the red states' policies. But perhaps the greatest area of disagreement is not with the specifics of any particular policy disagreement, but that such differences should exist at all.

In Balz's article's comments thread, reader "kabscorner" states plainly what Balz implies (emphasis mine):

How can the people of a nation ever come together when each side is certain that they have a monopoly on being correct and that the other side is wrong on all issues?

That statement reeks of hypocrisy; if there are liberals who don't believe that "they have a monopoly on being correct" and who don't consider conservatives to be "wrong on all issues," this writer has yet to meet one.
However disturbing the liberals' philosophy and agenda, even more disturbing is the overarching liberal belief that their philosophy is not merely right, but so right that it must be imposed on the entire country. It is not sufficient that Massachusetts enacted Romneycare; Mississippi must have ObamaCare, too. Houston, with the same size population as Chicago, but many more gun stores and many fewer murders, must have Chicago's draconian gun control regime and, presumably, its sky-high murder rate, too. Every state must recognize same-sex marriage, not just those states that have enacted it (or had it imposed by unelected (and liberal) judges).

And of course, the seminal policy difference that begat the current polarization that so distresses liberals: abortion. In 1973, some months before the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, Michiganders held a referendum on whether to liberalize our state's abortion laws. Overwhelmingly, we voted to keep our abortion laws as they were.

Roe v. Wade changed all that when a liberal-dominated Supreme Court reached into Justice Douglas's and Griswold's Pandora's Box of "emanations and penumbras" to extract a new, theretofore undiscovered, constitutional right to abortion -- and struck down the abortion policy the people of Michigan voted for, overwhelmingly, only months before.

Surely many states' voters felt the same anger Michigan voters felt at having their state's independence so blithely flouted by Roe. Almost worse than the decision itself, was its pioneering creation of a new weapon to add to liberalism's by-any-means-necessary arsenal. For the first time, liberals had successfully (mis)used the Supreme Court to impose the sensibilities of a New York City Upper West Side liberal onto the entire nation.
Conversely, the overturning of Roe by a future Supreme Court, would not impose Mississippi's values on New York, or Phil Robertson's values on the West Village, but merely restore the right of every state right to chart its own course, which is to say the right the states had -- and that the Constitution intended them to have -- from the instant of the nation's founding.

Contra Dan Balz and kabscorner and the rest of our liberal friends, absent a shooting war with a foreign power, the question is not, "how can the people of a nation ever come together," but how can most liberals (and, to be fair, a few conservatives) learn to live and let live?

E pluribus unum -- "Out of many, one" -- is America's motto. But where in that motto, or in the Declaration of Independence, or in the Constitution, does it say that the "many" must march, or think, or legislate, in lockstep?

Follow Gene Schwimmer on Twitter. Visit Gene at geneschwimmer.com.

Washington Post pundit Dan Balz has a problem:

Political polarization has ushered in a new era in state government, where single-party control of the levers of power has produced competing Americas.

Republican states have pursued economic and fiscal strategies built around lower taxes, deeper spending cuts and less regulation.... They have clashed with labor unions.... moved to restrict abortion rights or to enact voter-identification laws....

Yes, yes, all true. Yet, at the same time, as Balz also notes:

Blue states have also been forced to cut spending, given the budgetary pressures caused by the recession. But... a number of them also have raised taxes.... They have backed the president on the main elements of his health-care law.... Legaliz[ed] same-sex marriages, provid[ed] easier access to voting and... impos[ed] more restrictions on guns.

Needless to say, with the exception of cutting spending, conservatives likely oppose all of the blue state policies Balz lists, just as Balz surly has problems with many, perhaps even all, of the red states' policies. But perhaps the greatest area of disagreement is not with the specifics of any particular policy disagreement, but that such differences should exist at all.

In Balz's article's comments thread, reader "kabscorner" states plainly what Balz implies (emphasis mine):

How can the people of a nation ever come together when each side is certain that they have a monopoly on being correct and that the other side is wrong on all issues?

That statement reeks of hypocrisy; if there are liberals who don't believe that "they have a monopoly on being correct" and who don't consider conservatives to be "wrong on all issues," this writer has yet to meet one.
However disturbing the liberals' philosophy and agenda, even more disturbing is the overarching liberal belief that their philosophy is not merely right, but so right that it must be imposed on the entire country. It is not sufficient that Massachusetts enacted Romneycare; Mississippi must have ObamaCare, too. Houston, with the same size population as Chicago, but many more gun stores and many fewer murders, must have Chicago's draconian gun control regime and, presumably, its sky-high murder rate, too. Every state must recognize same-sex marriage, not just those states that have enacted it (or had it imposed by unelected (and liberal) judges).

And of course, the seminal policy difference that begat the current polarization that so distresses liberals: abortion. In 1973, some months before the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, Michiganders held a referendum on whether to liberalize our state's abortion laws. Overwhelmingly, we voted to keep our abortion laws as they were.

Roe v. Wade changed all that when a liberal-dominated Supreme Court reached into Justice Douglas's and Griswold's Pandora's Box of "emanations and penumbras" to extract a new, theretofore undiscovered, constitutional right to abortion -- and struck down the abortion policy the people of Michigan voted for, overwhelmingly, only months before.

Surely many states' voters felt the same anger Michigan voters felt at having their state's independence so blithely flouted by Roe. Almost worse than the decision itself, was its pioneering creation of a new weapon to add to liberalism's by-any-means-necessary arsenal. For the first time, liberals had successfully (mis)used the Supreme Court to impose the sensibilities of a New York City Upper West Side liberal onto the entire nation.
Conversely, the overturning of Roe by a future Supreme Court, would not impose Mississippi's values on New York, or Phil Robertson's values on the West Village, but merely restore the right of every state right to chart its own course, which is to say the right the states had -- and that the Constitution intended them to have -- from the instant of the nation's founding.

Contra Dan Balz and kabscorner and the rest of our liberal friends, absent a shooting war with a foreign power, the question is not, "how can the people of a nation ever come together," but how can most liberals (and, to be fair, a few conservatives) learn to live and let live?

E pluribus unum -- "Out of many, one" -- is America's motto. But where in that motto, or in the Declaration of Independence, or in the Constitution, does it say that the "many" must march, or think, or legislate, in lockstep?

Follow Gene Schwimmer on Twitter. Visit Gene at geneschwimmer.com.

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