I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
It’s mid-afternoon and I’m taking Jessica to an eye appointment in Oakland. She’s certainly not “my little girl” anymore. I long ago stopped being surprised by her cogent views and the way she so forcefully and eloquently expresses them when we have serious, and sadly infrequent discussions on politics, society, culture and news. We’ve crossed into that stage of life when I’ll ask her for her counsel on the occasional life crisis. I suppose that makes sense. She’s been through more in her 33 years than I’ve been in my 66. Jessica has degrees in Political Science and International Negotiation, neither of which are directly applicable to her current job. That’s like many of us. How many fellow history degree holders do I know who are doing something besides teaching history or practicing law?
I wonder how her life might be different if she’d pursued something applicable to her education. Sometimes life pushes you, hard, in directions that you never anticipated. Now my daughter the aspiring baker dreams of having her own little shop. Politics to pastry seems like more than a fair exchange.
Like the rest of us (well, the ones who follow the rules) the COVID life has her staying home on weekends when she might normally be out and she’s filling up part of her spare time baking. It fills the house with luscious inviting smell and our bellies up with countless carbs; bulging chocolate chip cookies, cakes, cobblers, honey laden Greek desserts. Used to be that my mom would let me lick the batter bowl, now my daughter hands me the bowl and the spatula. We need to leave shelter in place ASAP. I feel pounds coming on.
During our drive she tells me about a documentary she saw about how the news is often delivered with an end game of shaping public opinion. It brings to mind Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley – dour, no nonsense and not even a hint, spoken or unspoken, of any bias. That’s not to say there was never any emotion. I remember Cronkite falling into tears when he reported on the Kennedy assassination.
We both agree that it’s often, too often, difficult to separate fact from partisan fiction. That’s unless you’re watching CNN or Fox in which case it’s an open and shut case of bias, one from the left the other from the right and there’s nothing really right about either. They aren’t supposed to be in the business of shaping public opinion or making news when they should simply be reporting news. Jessica tells me that she’s sick of the back and forth bickering, as sick of the “fuck Trump” stuff as she is with the “fuck Pelosi.” I have to agree although I’ve been, and probably will continue to be, guilty of the former.
We’re turning off of Highway 80 onto 580, normally a crawl but in the COVID days the traffic flows. As we cross into Oakland I tell her that it’s my belief that America is so ideologically divided that we’re far beyond the point of any rapprochement. The silos too hardened, the anger too malignant. Anyone running for office claiming that he/she will be the unifier is either lying or delusional or a mixture of both.
“It’s my opinion, and it’s frankly just recently come to me, that, not necessarily in my lifetime or yours, but at some point the United States will no longer be united. I just wonder how it’s going to divide. From a philosophical point of view California, New York and the northeast and maybe Colorado could make up one nation and let the rest fend for themselves. It just doesn’t work out geographically.”
It’s a notion that I’ve thought a lot about lately. How would it work? Would it be like the EU with open borders and a common currency and a NATO-like defense compact?Currently America is “a house divided” and we know what Lincoln said about that.
It isn’t a notion that hasn’t been explored. In 1981, journalist Joel Garreau wrote The Nine Nations of North America, which proposes a North America being divided into nine nations based on economic and cultural similarities. The problem is that the divisions would include Canada and Mexico. Do those two nations really want to adopt a petulant, child such as America?