October 18, 2018

Rural vs. Urban: The Growing Divide

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It is often talked about how the “Red States” make up much of rural America and the “Blue States” are comprised of the urban dwellers. I know an entire book could be written about whether such a divide is a planned event or one of evolutionary happenstance. I’ll leave that debate for another time.

State by state we constantly hear of political and economic activities surrounding demographic differences. The reality of our existence shows that people of different ideology choose to live in areas best suited to them. This is a natural occurrence and the end result is a separation of oftentimes distinctly different cultures.

In what I believe to be a false paradigm of Left vs. Right, Liberal vs. Conservative, or Democrat vs. Republican, the “True Believers” as they become more easily convinced of political and ideological values it fuels the fire which further inflames the anger and hatred associated with political and cultural differences.

The false paradigm is in the belief that one political party is actually separate and different from the other while looking out for your best interest. While one’s own conscience, character, and personality may give us our political and moral persuasions, it is a false belief that one political party operates autonomously and isn’t controlled by higher powers, nor are they interested in your’s or my best interest short of what it takes to steal your vote.

We can easily see the results of the efforts, programmed or otherwise, in the creation of a distinct divide in this country. Not only are we subjected to more outright verbal floggings and sometimes physical ones due to our political or cultural differences (I guess we can throw in religion as well) but the segregation or the desire for such is welling up, shown in different ways, within the several states.

Because these political and cultural differences exist, suggestions on how to deal with or find a solution to this problem vary considerably.

I have written in the past some about one particular issue in the State of Maine. David Trahan, executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, has been pushing for several election cycles to change the process for public initiatives being placed on the ballot. The current process only requires a percentage of registered voters according to the number of ballots cast in the last election. These signatures can come from anywhere within the state boundaries.Trahan’s bill would require that the petition signature process obtain an equitable number of signatures from each of Maine’s two Congressional Districts -rural vs. urban.

Trahan, in testimony before the legislative committee, said, “For decades, many Mainers have argued that there are two Maine’s, North and South. Many in the North feel as though they have no voice in Augusta politics. In March of 2012, State Representative, Henry Joy of Crystal even proposed Legislation that would have allowed Aroostook, Piscataquis, Somerset, Franklin, Penobscot and parts of Washington, Hancock and Oxford counties to become their own State called Maine. Southern and coastal Maine would be renamed the state of Northern Massachusetts.”

It is no secret that the notion that “Many in the North” feel they have no voice in Augusta, is due to political and cultural differences based on a different value system. Historically, ballots cast in the State of Maine clearly reflect that there exists a distinct political difference between Northern Maine and Southern Maine.

Instead of Trahan calling for a secession from Maine by the North, he is actually suggesting one condition in which both “parties” are forced to seek out political and cultural adversaries as a means of accomplishing distinct political and cultural opposing proposals as a way of making things more equitable when it comes to the promotion of political and cultural dogma. Not only does one have to ask if this will accomplish what is intended in making the system more reasonable, but is it really possible?

Maine also has those proposing a constitutional amendment believed to guarantee and protect a Maine citizen’s right to hunt and fish. Regardless of whether you or I agree or disagree with such a constitutional reformation isn’t part of the point to be made here. What is the point is that conditions exist in this state where it is felt, due to political and cultural differences, that a threat exists because of one ideology opposing the other.

The majority of people who live in Northern Maine want to protect that right, while the majority of those to the South, find the need to protect that right as being unnecessary.

Do we then attempt to force one side to work with the other side by requiring an effort to place initiatives on the ballot, such as banning bear beating, to get a fair and honest representation of the state’s population, both north and south, or would it be better to create two states or some other remedy?

This dilemma is not endemic to the State of Maine. I was reading an opinion piece today in the USA Today Online. Written by Glenn Reynolds, he shares information about other states attempting to deal with these political, economic, and cultural differences.

Reynolds begins his piece with: “We’re starting to hear more about secession…wanting to separate from the population-dense urban areas that essentially control state decision-making…that they are governed by people in distant urban centers who know little, and care less, about their way of life.” 

This is the common theme throughout. I’ll guarantee it exists at some level in every state and perhaps every nation in the world. Can this be changed?

What is not so common is how to deal with it. In California, some are calling for a total secession and creating other distinct states. Others suggest turning the entire region into six separate zones, each recognizable due to their defined political, economic and cultural ideology.

New York is another example of how New York City seems to dominate and dictate all things to the remainder of the state, many of whom completely disagree with the rulings of the higher population.

We find the same problems in Washington State and Oregon, between the east and the west parts of each state, as well as in Illinois between the north and the south.

Is there an answer? Is this an idealistic pipe dream? Aren’t the suggestions of separation and secession nothing more than a reversal of ideology back to segregation? If so, then is segregation natural and more workable?

The author suggests some form of a stronger Federal Government presence that prohibits the states from making stricter laws than what the Feds mandate.

What could possibly go wrong?

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