Hey Elderly Aunt, is it time for the nation to get a divorce?

There are two large segments (~ 40% each) of the U.S.A. population that want two completely different kinds of government. Their interests can’t be reconciled because compromise is no longer an option.  As a result, our government is experiencing wide swings in policies, causing general dysfunction here and in our international relations.  At what point do we stop trying to fool ourselves and recognize that these parties are no longer compatible and can’t live together.  Isn’t it time to discuss a divorce from ourselves; however complicated and messy that may be?  Wouldn’t it be better to divide the country in two peacefully and let people choose the government they want rather than wait until our country is in the shambles of another bloody civil war?  The November election will not resolve this issue.  It will only make one large segment of our population dangerously angry and frustrated.  Don’t you think we should discuss the divorce option now?

Hmmmm…so if red America were to seek a divorce from Blue America, it follows (at least to the Elderly Aunt) that Rockingham County would wish to sign up for the former while Harrisonburg is likely to hitch on with the latter. 

Does this mean that the Elderly Aunt, if she were a county resident, would need a passport to visit her go-to clothing and cat toy emporium, Gift and Thrift?

Heavens. How het-up-afying is that to contemplate? The Elderly Aunt, who cannot keep up with her car keys let alone a passport, shudders at the thought. 

While distressing governmental dysfunction in this country is by no means new, it certainly seems a lot noisier than it used to be. It appears to the Elderly Aunt we Americans are more and more expressing our cultural identity through our party affiliation. We’d much rather shout about such inflammatory (and certainly important) social issues as abortion, same-sex marriage, gun-control, police conduct, and immigration, than parse the fine points of our own economic well-being or figure out how to fix our broken educational system — or pull together to corral the rampaging coronavirus.

To put it bluntly, the Elderly Aunt does not think it’s time for the Great American Divorce. She believes this for two important reasons. 1) The economy, stupid; and 2) The fault, dear reader, lies not with our system of government, but with ourselves (and possibly with our increasingly entrenched two-party system.)

The first of these reasons, she holds to be self-evident.  The Divided States of America? Interstate trade wars, anyone? 

As to the second reason, the Elderly Aunt thinks it would behoove us all to accept that the maniacally tweeting maelstrom currently occupying the White House is a symptom of a dysfunctional society rather than a dysfunctional governmentDemocrats and Republicans both worked hard to polarize America, culminating in our election (or not) of a boorish, reality TV persona to serve us (or not) as our president. We, the People, have somehow allowed our political system to decompensate into a shouting match over who did—or didn’t do—what; and what is and isn’t true. Reality, itself, has become politicized. Pogo certainly nailed it when he observed that we have met the enemy and the enemy is us. 

It seems to the Elderly Aunt that you, dear reader, are absolutely correct to predict that the November election will not end our current national dysfunction. But she questions your assertion that no matter who wins, the results will make a “large segment of our population dangerously angry and frustrated.” Why does she question this? Because to her it seems that the great majority of Americans are already angry and frustrated.  

These times are spectacularly trying in so many different ways. However, even in the face of the mud-slinging chaos that passes for politics, the Elderly Aunt continues to believe that the only person’s behavior (and social media posts) she can control are her own. And the most powerful political force for good she can exert is fueled by her own energy. So how about it, dear reader? America has always been resilient. Are you up for keeping the faith a while longer and joining with the Elderly Aunt in doing what we can to ensure that this country has a chance to right itself?

The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on every other Monday.  And as a general disclaimer—to quote the elves from The Lord of the Rings — “… advice is a dangerous gift, even given from the wise to the wise.”

Got a question for the Elderly Aunt? Ask her on Facebook or email your question to [email protected] with the subject line “Elderly Aunt question.” (Just please don’t ask detailed financial questions). 

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