Could Federal Gridlock Signal Collapse of the Union?

NY foots the bill to reopen Statue of Liberty

The Soviet Union collapsed because it was operating under an economic and political system that was not sustainable. As the central governing mechanism failed, the component states broke away. I wonder if that’s what America is about to experience.

The United States of America was forged in violence and held together by force. States that have little or nothing in common have been subjected to a common will – supposedly the will of the majority.  Millions of people in the South have never accepted this forced alliance. Their forefathers were willing to die rather than end slavery, and succeeding generations have relentlessly resisted the Civil Rights Movement.

As far north as the Carolinas and Virginia, state governments are still fighting to suppress the non-white vote. And legislatures throughout the region are desperately maneuvering to undo school integration, rescind abortion rights, reverse same-sex marriage laws, and generally turn the clock back to the 1950s.

Meanwhile, in the Northeast and along the coasts, a different America is taking shape. Racially diverse, economically progressive and altogether more tolerant of each other, these Americans are a race apart from the white majority in the Old South and the Wild West.

Naturally, Americans who are comfortable with a more progressive lifestyle have moved away from reactionary areas while those seeking the “values” of the past have moved to communities that share their ideology. Politically “red” states have grown more red, “blue” states more blue.

The two Americas grow more different every day, and the tension between them may have reached breaking point.

Taking advantage of this cultural conflict, a group of conservative billionaires has been working under cover for decades to divide and rule America. Their objectives are secret of course, but I imagine one of their main goals is to create a subjugated labor force willing to work for the kind of wages they pay in their overseas factories. Obviously, they don’t want the federal government stepping in to provide food stamps, health care and education for these folks; they want to have a labor force entirely at their mercy.

The strategy is not likely to succeed in the Northeast or along the coasts, but it is already bearing fruit in the South, where non-union plants have been springing up and where non-union wages prevail.

To impose their will on America, these billionaires have used the Tea Party insurgency to bring the federal government to a standstill. They might even go so far as to let the debt ceiling impasse go unresolved, in the expectation that they will more easily control the ruins of the global economy.

One result of this strategy has been to widen the schism between the two Americas. And the ongoing federal government shutdown is causing cracks to appear in the union of the states. Several states and at least one city have averted the closing of federal facilitiesby using their own funds. Arizona, for example, is keeping the Grand Canyon open to tourists and New York City is paying to reopen the Statue of Liberty. Some states are also using their own funds to meet the shortfall in federal government services and programs.

It’s a long, long way from paying to keep federal tourist attractions open to declaring independence from the Union, but how long will it be before the states decide to stop sending their money to Washington when they have to spend it to keep federal attractions open at home?

As the federal government shutdown drags on and opposing political factions show no sign of reconciling, I have to wonder whether that faint writing on the wall prophesies the end of America as we know it. After all, empires have fallen in the past. And often the cause has been internal conflict, not an invading force.

Photo shows tourists visiting the Statue of Liberty, which is being kep open by New York City.

Click here for states funding federal attractions.

Click for states and federal programs.

Click for reopening of national parks.

Click here for the Southern strategy.

Click here for more on the Tea Party.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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