George Washington once wrote, “The establishment of our new Government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness.” Judging by the state of our country today, I wonder if Mr. Washington would like to rephrase that.
The country has gone through many periods of strife in my time here: assassinations, recessions, desegregation, inflation, gas crisis, Watergate, hanging chads, the AIDS crisis, 9/11. Maybe it’s the 24-hour news cycle or the immediacy of social media that makes the landscape seem so bleak, but I don’t recall us ever being so divided.
No one in our country seems happy today. The right is angry. The left is despondent. Our nation reminds me of those married couples who try to stay together for “the children” but end up making everyone around them miserable.
Maybe it’s time for a breakup. Yes, I know a few Southern states tried this before and it did not turn out too well. I am thinking about something a little less bloody — like Brexit.
America had a nice run. We won two world wars, gave the world the automobile, nuclear power, the internet, and put men on the moon. But now it just may be time to admit that our country has jumped the shark.
We used to be the beacon of freedom for the world. Now we are the ones with children in cages, paramilitary on the streets of our cities, and being monitored by Amnesty International. We used to oversee other country’s elections. Now they want to monitor ours. We used to be the place people ran to for safety. Now we are the pariahs of the world, our passports unable to take us almost anywhere.
Honestly, would breaking up the United States really be such a bad thing? California could stand alone. They are already the fifth-largest economy in the world. So could Texas, Florida, and New York. We have seen as the federal coronavirus response failed, states already breaking out into groups for survival. That could be the beginning of something that finally makes us happy.
Our current situation leaves us with a feeling of futility as the ground constantly changes beneath our feet. George W. Bush did not like the Kyoto Protocol and pulled us out. Barack Obama believes in climate change and supported the Paris Accord. Donald Trump does not and pulls us out. Joe Biden will make us reverse course and support it again. The next Republican will most likely pull us back out again. Is this any way to run a government?
And people are just so frustrated. An August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that 70% of Americans are angry at a political system that is just not working for them. Dissatisfaction with the government may be something we can all agree on, but that seems like the only thing. Some believe we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, while others think it’s a hoax. There are some who want kids to go back to school in the middle of all this, while others don’t. Some deplore the tearing down of statues and decry the Black Lives Matter effort, while others rejoice in it. Yes, there have always been differences among us but in the ages of QAnon, the Deep State, and other such conspiracy theories, the rift seems insurmountable.
If we broke up into different countries, then perhaps folks could finally find the answers they have been looking for.
Don’t want to have to go to Starbucks without the comfort of your AR-15?
We have a country for that.
Want to have a gun-free environment where your children can go to school without bullet-resistant backpacks?
Yeah, we could have a country for that too.
Just think about it, America. I know breaking up is hard to do. We used to be good together. But what is the point of having the “greatest country in the world” if none of us actually like it?
Chuck Bonfig is a small business owner and freelance photographer. He lives in Havertown. He tweets at @Chuckbonfig.