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Divided States
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/16/2021 10:59:38

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

With these words, Gouverneur Morris opened what became the “operating manual” for the United States of America. It was ratified by the ninth state necessary (New Hampshire) on June 21, 1788 and it has guided us ever since.

At the time, the thirteen colonies were all clustered together on the Eastern Seaboard of the continent of North America. Our population was about 3.9 million (1790 census) and was concentrated in the major cities of the Northeast. Most of the new “Americans” lived within 400 miles of the Atlantic Ocean.

Through much of the 19th century, “Manifest Destiny” led us to expand our frontiers, and eventually These United States reached from sea to shining sea – the fine city of Los Angeles lies some 3,000 miles from this nation’s humble beginnings at the Old North Bridge.

But therein lies the rub.

“United” States are an interesting concept. Let us consider several terms that have come to mean differing regions of this vast land.

We do have the “Original Thirteen”, and we’ll come back to them in a moment. Of course, we have the “Old Confederacy”, or “The South”, and despite being defeated on the field of battle a hundred and fifty years ago, they still refuse to accept that defeat and continue to wage war for the cultural soul of the region – but volumes have been written about that here and elsewhere.

I want you all to think about what is called “The Heartland”. As an East-Coaster, the term for me conjures up the stereotypes of farmland, crumbling factory cities, and a culture that is overly reliant on firearms and a particularly strong belief in a supreme sky-spirit. But why is it called the “Heartland” at all?

There are, of course, multiple definitions:

the central or most important part of a country, area, or field of activity.
"wildlife sites in the heartland of Russia"

the center of support for a belief or movement.
"the heartland of the rebel cause"

the central part of the US; the Midwest.
noun: the heartland
"a recession that battered the coasts while sparing the heartland"

In the terms of this country, it is meant to refer to the geography of the country more than anything else. But over time, it’s also come to mean the ‘cultural heartland’ of this country, for what it’s worth. This is the conservative stronghold of the United States, and where our ideological enemies in the Grand Old Party find their source of strength.

But I daresay this is not the “heartland” at all. Let us return to that Original Thirteen. At the time of the revolution, the rabble-rousers were centered on Boston and Virginia. Everything in between became more of supporting actors to where the cause was the strongest. It is the merest quirk of history that the first shots of what became the revolution were fired at Lexington; they could have just as easily happened in Williamsburg, VA.

In any case – having shared the struggles of settling the continent, expanding the borders of the nation, and standing up to tyranny and demanding those “inalienable rights”, it was very easy for that Original Thirteen to consider themselves “United States”.

Consider that Northeast today. Stylized as the “Bos-Wash Corridor”, it’s the most densely populated part of the country.


The Northeast megalopolis is the most populous megalopolis located entirely in the United States, with over 50 million residents, as well as the most urbanized megalopolis in the United States and the megalopolis with the world's largest economic output. Located primarily on the Atlantic Ocean in the Northeastern United States, with its lower terminus in the upper Southeast, it runs primarily northeast to southwest from the northern suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, to the southern suburbs of Washington, D.C., in Northern Virginia. It includes the major cities of Boston, Providence, Hartford, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., along with their metropolitan areas and suburbs. It is sometimes defined to include smaller urban agglomerations beyond this, such as Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia, to the south, Portland, Maine, to the north, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to the west.

The megalopolis extends in a roughly straight line along a section of U.S. Route 1 and Interstate 95. As of 2010, the region contained over 50 million people, about 17% of the U.S. population on less than 2% of the nation's land area, with a population density of approximately 1,000 people per square mile, compared to the U.S. average of 80.5 per square mile. America 2050 projections expect the area to grow to 58.1 million people by 2025.

But that’s not all. It’s the economic powerhouse of the East Coast; the BosWash output is larger than that of all of Germany ($3.75 trillion). Hundreds, if not thousands of cultural institutions significant to all the United States exist in this region – not the least of which are our major institutes of higher learning (Harvard, Yale, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown). People from around the world come to our hospitals for care – you can rattle those off, too. (Boston Children’s, Mass General, NY Presbyterian, Mount Sinai Hospital, Hospitals of the U-Penn, University of Maryland Medical Center…)

Many, many, many companies have their headquarters on the East Coast – far too many to name, but just between two cities you’ll recognize the names. (Liberty Mutual, Fidelity, Gillette, IBM, JP Morgan, Verizon…)

I would go as far as to state that the five most important cities in the entire United States lie on that 400-mile stretch between the Massachusetts State House and the White House.

Boston, of course – hey, we invented the thing. We are today the nation’s Cultural capitol, and still stylized as the “Athens of America”.

New York City – the economic capitol of These United States, if not the world. Like Frank said, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”

Philadelphia – Our historic heart. (I’ll yield that title this time.) Think of the Declaration of Independence, Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Constitution. All of it done here.

Baltimore – Temporary capitol during the revolution, but of course their major contributions came during the “Second Revolutionary War” in 1812 – Star Spangled Banner, anyone?

And finally, the “new” National Capitol. Authorized by President Washington (and named after him), surveyed in 1791, and designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, it is the seat of power and probably the most powerful city in the entire world today.

Is all of this not the true “Heartland” of the United States?

But there’s the problem. Think back to our founding, and the shared sacrifices among the population and the politicians of the time. Nearly two hundred and fifty years later, does any of that still matter?

I live here in the Greater Boston area. My closest neighbor is literally on the other side of the wall. My neighborhood abuts one of those institutes of higher learning, and by nature of living in that “Bos-Wash Corridor” – I don’t even need a car if I choose not to have one. (I can see a bus stop out my front window, train to Boston is 4/10 of a mile, and CVS, Dunkin Donuts, and three supermarkets are all within walking distance.)

What do I possibly have in common with people in what is called “The Heartland” today? In a word – nothing. That place of the country, their culture, their entire way of life, is a concept completely alien to me. It pains me as a proud Bostonian to admit it, but I have more in common with New York City than with Des Moines, Omaha, or Wichita.

It has been 80 years since the last time we were truly United States. War came to our shores in late 1941; the global struggle to rid the world of fascism united us all in ways that have never happened before or since. That last, great day of unity came on September 2, 1945. We have maintained a façade for decades, but the acceleration towards balkanization really began on January 20, 1981.

Ever since the Reagan presidency, it seems to me that politicians of both stripes have adopted a “divide and conquer” mentality. Working for the common good was no longer the way to do things in Washington – instead of working together, politicians turned to denigrating and belittling each other in order to hold onto power by any means necessary.

Reagan only made it possible; the worst perpetrator of this division was actually Representative Newt Gingrich. What Reagan started only accelerated during the “Republican Revolution” of 1994. It took another quarter-century, but the groundwork laid then made Donald Trump possible today.

President-Elect Joe Biden takes the oath in mere days now. He is perhaps burdened by more weight than any other incoming president since Lincoln. Once again, the Union is on the verge of dissolution, and only the best and brightest will be able to save it.

The biggest question today – “Is the Union worth saving?”. Of course, the instant response is YES. But I will be the dissenting opinion today.

The events of January 6 have demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that there are indeed “Two Americas” that was spoken of long ago. I happen to live in the America that is the best-educated, most interconnected, and the most dependent on our neighbors for nearly every aspect of daily life. That concept from The Heartland of “rugged individualism” is nearly non-existent and irrelevant to me, and millions of others here in the megalopolis. In fact, recent events have thrown into stark contrast just how ideologically opposed those two Americas are.

Clearly, the only way to move this nation forward is to treat us as two different nations. We are on the verge of civil war. It seems that losing a previous civil war was not enough for our ideological enemies. Instead of trying to fight them – they should be given the choice of “opting out”. While secession has been debunked by force of arms, the Constitution ought to be a two-way street. If certain of the Several States do not want to follow the rules, then the rest of us should forcibly eject them and absolve them of any further responsibility to do so.

This type of jingoistic nationalism at home in “The Heartland” had its place in the 1930s. Adolf Hitler came to power legally and via the ballot box before descending into the Third Reich. Hitler didn’t actually win; he placed second to Paul von Hindenburg by a mere 3 million votes. All of the tactics used recently by Mr. Trump and the Republicans were invented by Hitler and the Nazi Party in the wake of his second-place finish – and they led to the eventual collapse of the coalition government and enabled Hitler to establish dictatorial powers.

I have made this comparison before - I am a cancer survivor. Initially just abdominal pain…but it wouldn’t go away. I went to the ER and eventually had emergency surgery. That part of my body that was diseased and a threat to the rest of my existence was cut out and destroyed. There are simply parts of the United States that cannot be cured and must be excised.

President-Elect Joe Biden faces titanic struggles starting on the afternoon of January 20. Not the least of which is undoing a years’ worth of incompetence and indifference regarding the pandemic. So much damage has been done to our institutions and reputation that it seems that four years won’t nearly be enough time to repair it all. (Remember – it is easier to destroy than to build.)

At this stage in our history, shouldn’t we only be interested in having those states and regions that want to fix things and work together for the betterment of us all be a part of the solution?

Those that would destroy – History has a very long memory. Despite living in the United States, those that hold those beliefs are no Americans, and should be destroyed themselves. In turn, the rest of us should follow the advice of Thomas Jefferson.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

That time is NOW.


1 comments (Latest Comment: 01/18/2021 15:44:39 by BobR)
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