America is a two-headed coin. On one side is the image of a head facing left. He believes in justice, equality, and freedom of thought. On the other side, a head facing right. She believes in justice, equality, and freedom of thought. Every four years, these faces tumble in the atmosphere between two oceans and 300 hundred million voices call it in the air.
In the perpetual coin toss of American democracy, two heads are not better than one. The two heads means two Americas. Americas that share a language but differ on definitions. They are defined by their own radio stations and pastimes and punchlines and perspectives. And each America sees the other America as precisely that: The Other. For a devoted few citizens in each, The Other must be stopped at all costs.
In spite of the “United” in its name, ruminating on America’s divisions is a surprisingly common hobby. It’s fun too! Here are just a few ways to carve up America the beautiful:
I maintain that what we all call Sprite is Very Important; the media doesn’t mention it at all. That’s because their favorite flavor of prejudice is called “politics.” Like soda or pop it swaps substance for fizz.
Politics is low-poly pandering. Red versus blue. Left versus right. Meaningless visual metaphors. Political leaning. Spectrum. Swing. On-the-fence. Consider this definition of Purple State:
…any state that could reasonably be won by either the Democratic or Republican presidential candidate.
This is every state. Even in Godless California where I live, you don’t need to drive far to find a gate to The Other side. Like our veins and arteries, every state is a little bit blue and red .
In my worthless opinion, the telling division in America is that between urban and rural. PBS and RFD. Priuses and pickup trucks. Here is my bias:
I think cities are doing something right. Cities are magnets for humans of different cultural backgrounds and ideologies and embed them in an infrastructure that affords social behavior. That’s because cities are “crowded.” This is considered a bad word, but it just means “full of people.”
Apartment buildings, office towers, and commuter trains. These are mechanisms that expose, transmit, and mix new ideas. Young people, typical carriers of Openness, move to cities in droves, eager to expand their consciousness. This is why I like cities.
I also think rural communities are doing something right. The countryside of America attracts people of different backgrounds and ideologies and challenges them to build community — though ample space and a deliberate place of life. That’s because rural communities are “rustic.” This is considered a bad word, but it means “simple” or “unfinished.” (Would you prefer “difficult” and “done?”)
Farmhouses. Dirt roads. Main street. These components of rural life comprise a canvas for community. The outward-pointing-shotgun is a stereotype. It’s also ineffective governance. Survival takes collective action and an acute sensitivity to the environment. Rural communities can thrive without destructive infrastructure. Their stable cost of living means less focus on materialism and wealth. This is why I like non-cities.
I’ve never looked down and seen red or blue on the ground. It’s either asphalt or not. We might feel like two sides of a coin, but maybe we’re just the opposite sides of a street. Let’s agree to look both ways.