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The seeds of our own destruction
Patricia Hewitt
Patricia Hewitt

Patricia Hewitt

Local columnist

Recently, an elected member of Congress from Georgia suggested that it may be time for our country to divide itself into red and blue states with some weakened form of federal government overseeing the country’s divided self. Our own local Congressional representative has authored legislation that would eliminate the IRS and all federal taxes to instead, impose a 30% sales tax on everything we buy effectively keeping tax revenue in state control. 

A famous cartoonist said that white people should get away from black people. In some colleges, teachers are being shunned or even fired for offering a forum for ideas considered antithetical to progressive thinking. All these efforts support the idea that the only resolution to our problems is that we literally split ourselves apart into homogenous groups because there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way to think, act, and feel.

One reason this is such a powerful concept is the desired result is to have a group on the inside (the right group) and a group on the outside (the wrong group) of power. And make no mistake dear reader, all these efforts have that one goal in common – control.

This is not some vague, future danger to our democracy. It is happening in plain sight right now. A major drug chain announced they will no longer offer certain medications in states with stricter abortion laws because of fear of retribution. In some states, books deemed by one group to be inappropriate are being banned from public libraries and librarians are threatened with legal action. Teachers in other states are told not to teach or even talk about certain subjects in their classes because these topics don’t represent real American history or values. In Georgia, voting drop boxes may be banned because some legislators deem them unnecessary, wishing to force citizens to show up in person at polls which of course, makes it harder for poorer, disabled, and working people to vote. In these examples, we see no regard for the needs or concerns of our citizens at large who’s voice is silenced through gerrymandering, ideological strictures, and cult-thinking.

If you agree this kind of extreme duality is destructive to our country, then a good starting point might be this - stop using terms like “red state” and “blue state.” These are labels used by one group to define another as inferior. Labels are identity tokens or tropes, designed to elicit a specific response by flattening complex ideas or beings into a single faceless form. Historically, it’s been an effective means to justify the cruelty we inflict on one another by dehumanizing our antagonist and inferring that of course, given the opportunity, we will choose to live in a state whose government supports our singular idea of morality and right thinking. Ideally, we will self-select our environment based on some superficial characteristics or in some cases, delusional thinking.

Another hidden benefit for those that endorse these terms, is it supports the idea that our government is static and unmovable. This serves to imply that whomever is in power should remain in power because they are powerful and cannot be removed by those not in power. Therefore, red states will always be red states and vice versa. In turn, many of our citizens, especially younger people, and people of color, see no need to vote in their best interest because government is broken and cannot be fixed.

If we are to return to some kind of homeostasis in our country, a good beginning is through the language we use to speak about one another and our institutions. Consider rejecting terms like red state and blue state in your own daily discourse, which have in them no inherent value in describing our great experiment of a country. Our founders deeply considered balance of power in the creation of our Constitution and our own very real Civil War should have taught us that the seeds of our own destruction present themselves in our agreement, tacit or otherwise, to see ourselves as separate self-determining entities rather than a United States.

Patti Hewitt is a local writer.

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