The Universal Notebook: Civil war in the Ungovernable States of America

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In his essay “Truth and Lie in an Extra-moral Sense,” philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche must have foreseen the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign when he wrote that “man has an invincible inclination to allow himself to be deceived and is, as it were, enchanted with happiness when the rhapsodist tells him epic fables as if they were true, or when the actor in the theater acts more royally than any real king.”

With six weeks left until the election, I’m not sure I can take much more of these theatrics.

I am angry all the time that a man like Donald Trump has to be taken seriously as a potential president of the United States, angrier still that the Republican Party has placed him on that stage and that a significant number of Americans seem to want the police state he promises.

This election has become a contest between the rational and the irrational, between an eminently qualified woman and a totally unqualified man. But no matter who wins (and I believe it will be Hillary Clinton), the USA may have become the Ungovernable States of America. If you cannot compromise, you cannot govern in a democracy. And that is the legacy of Fox News, conservative talk radio, the tea party, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Heritage Foundation and the Koch Brothers. No comprise. Total obstruction.

Reasonable people can agree to disagree, but what do you do when there are no reasonable people to disagree with? There are no legitimate differences of opinion between Trump and Clinton supporters. There are no policy differences. Trump has no policies. The sides simply hate one another, Trump calling Clinton the devil, Clinton calling Trump supporters deplorable. It’s like the unwinnable war on terror, a battle between good and evil, the only question being who is good and who is evil.

So maybe it’s time to make the division in this country between the left and right, progressive and conservative, official. Maybe what we need is a new American Civil War, not a bloody battle but a civil divorce, a legal partitioning of the country into Blue States and Red States.

Let those states where Trump wins be ruled by Trump. Let those states where Clinton wins be ruled by Clinton.

In the 30 or so Red States in the South, West and Midwest, Trump and his followers can repeal the Affordable Care Act and all forms of welfare; make abortion illegal; build walls along all their borders (if they can figure out how to pay for them without paying taxes); ban Muslims and Mexicans; and mandate gun ownership, school prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and standing for the national anthem.

In the 20 or so Blue States along the coasts and around the Great Lakes, Clinton and her supporters can institute universal single-payer health insurance that covers contraception and abortion; expand social welfare; raise the minimum wage; and require gun owners to pass gun safety courses, register their firearms and carry gun owner’s insurance against accidents and criminal misuse just as we do with car owners.

Unfortunately, this would mean that some of us are either going to have to move or live under a leader we despise. (In Maine, we’ve had plenty of practice).

Divorce would also mean that those high-minded innocents who will not vote, or who will vote for Green and Libertarian candidates, will have to live with the emptiness of their gesture. The perfect is the enemy of the good. You refuse, you lose.

Of course, Nietzsche, whose ideas about supermen and noble races were perverted by his sister to support Nazi racism and nationalism, not only foresaw Trump, but suggested that historical moments such as this, when a presidential candidate can speculate about the assassination of his rival without consequence, may be inevitable and short-lived.

So maybe we won’t need a divorce after all.

In “The Genealogy of Morals,” Nietzsche wrote “One cannot fail to see at the bottom of all these noble races the beast of prey, the splendid blond beast prowling about avidly in search of spoil and victory; this hidden core needs to erupt from time to time, the animal has to get out again and go back to the wilderness.”

Let’s just hope the splendid blond beast goes back to the wilderness without the spoils of victory.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

  • Stevoe

    Edgar – Before the inevitable wave of comments begins and my comment gets lost in a sea of negativity, let me say that this may be your best column…ever. Great writing and critical thinking. My fear as a fellow purveyor of columnist gibberish is that the people who need to hear these important words are not reading them – and the people that do are more interested in engaging in words of conflict – than any true exchange of perspective and common interests (i.e. health of our very democracy.)

    BTW – just checked with Las Vegas and the over/under on bombastic comments this column will produce is 46!

    Keep up the good and important fight.

    • truther

      “the people who need to hear these important words are not reading them – and the people that do are more interested in engaging in words of conflict – than any true exchange of perspective and common interests”

      I agree with this. There’s this insane conjunction of stubbornness and ignorance, where people make their minds up on partisan ideological grounds and then flatly refuse to listen to any fact, however persuasive, to the contrary.

      The result is large numbers of Americans who don’t believe in global warming or who think Trump is a successful businessman who will make America great again. Any attack is met with false equivalency and some kind of deranged rant about liberals and elites or something. In fact to simply point out to these people how they’re wrong is often to reinforce their baseless belief that they are right. You can’t reason with people who make their own reality.

      • Chew H Bird

        The really unfortunate thing is both major candidates have a significant percentage of people, regardless if they are right or wrong, that will blindly vote regardless of fact.

        • EABeem

          I was an early Bernie supporter. His point of view is largely my point of view. But I quickly realized 1) he had no understanding of international affairs and 2) could not win. I came to the conclusion that the only choice an intelligent person has in 2016 is Hillary Clinton. 90% of the case against her is b.s. She is qualified and no one else is. To vote for someone who can’t win is wasted feel-good vote in my not-so humble opinion. I worry that Johnson and Stein will be spoilers and we in Maine know what that can get you.

          • Chew H Bird

            A “win”, in my opinion would be of the libertarian party can gain enough acceptance to be included as a viable party by all news media. I do not share many of their views, and I know there are stronger candidates than Gary Johnson, but I believe we deserve a more open system and better choices and perhaps a viable third party will help those goals be realized.

            It has taken decades of mistakes to be this far (as a country) in debt. The money contributed to Social Security by working Americans has been allocated for other purposes. Someone recently said to me “Where there is a tax there is a loophole” and I really think we need to clean up our act. The “put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else” concept needs to happen in our country and I simply do not believe either of our major candidates has the capability of fixing our internal systems. My only real hope is at the bare minimum someone might at least lead by setting an example based on honesty and integrity.

          • Aliyah33

            “I was an early Bernie supporter.”

            Me, too. What I don’t understand is why you side with Hillary given the fact the DNC rigged the votes and threw Bernie under the bus. Does the name and actions by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz ring a bell?

          • EABeem

            Clinton won the most popular votes, the most states and the most delegates. Sanders understands that and will vote for Clinton.

          • Aliyah33

            So, you do know and understand the DNC rigged the votes for Clinton. And who is Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, and why did she resign?

          • EABeem

            I know Bernie didn’t understand how the delegate count was determined. I also know he supports Hillary. You should, too. The idea that everything is rigged is a favorite ploy of Trump, you know. Here are the facts about the primary:

          • Aliyah33

            The problem with Bernie is after finding out about the fact the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz et al actively worked against him, as evidenced by DNC documents, he hung his head and began stumping for Hillary. And I have to wonder why… isn’t it possible he’s promised a position in return for alliance? I think this is highly likely given the fact additional DNC documents show numerous ambassadors and others in U.S. governmental positions paid for their positions (see Zero Hedge article, “This Is How Much It ‘Costs’ To Get An Ambassadorship…”). Nate Silver’s analysis and opinion doesn’t take any of the aforementioned into account. As a registered independent, I took a stance to not participate in this seemingly high school like ritual of siding with a party no matter what. The cheering “my side’s better than your side” is, in my opinion, a very narrow point of view. I’ve not seen any accomplishments benefiting the people from Clinton in her years as a politician, but rather quite the contrary given the facts. I’d like to see a list of such Clinton accomplishments, but have yet to find them, and what I do find out about Clinton turns my stomach. Hillary Clinton is a psychopath.

          • EABeem

            No, she is not. She always was and still is the best qualified person in the 2016 presidential race. Not to vote for her is to vote for the end of American democracy. And try to get over the DNC crap. Debbie Wasserman Schultz did not vote for Hillary Clinton 16.8 million times.

          • Aliyah33

            Ed, your prerogative to say Hillary’s not a psychopath, but check Hare’s checklist of psychopath traits first. It’s troubling to hear Hillary laughing about how she defended a rapist of a 12-year old girl conceding she knew he got away with it, and of the overthrow of Libya and murder of Gaddafi – she’s laughing, “We came, we saw, he died!” Do you know the circumstances of Gaddafi’s death? It was brutal, and if I write what was done to him I’d likely get censored – again. Do you really believe we have a democratic political system? We’re in an oligarchy. Yes, indeed, it’s certainly crap the Democratic party and Hillary’s mired in, and a vote for her is a vote for the end of humanity.

          • EABeem

            In this country, everyone accused of a crime is entitled to a defense attorney. Clinton was assigned to defend a rapist. As far as the death of Gaddafi goes, I’m not crying over the fact that a murderous dictator died violently.
            Here are the facts about the rape story that Republicans have been perverting for decades:

          • Aliyah33

            Our justice system is broken, Ed. I agree with you that everyone is entitled to a defense attorney, but as an attorney (a) Hillary didn’t have to divulge what she knew – I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t there a possibility of violation of attorney/client privilege?, and (b) Hillary didn’t have to laugh about it. The fact she laughed about the rape of a 12-year old girl is chilling. Re Gaddafi, he was perceived a threat to the U.S. because he was converting his country’s monetary system to be based on gold (vs. U.S. “petro dollar”), the majority of Libyans are literate and women had rights not seen in other middle eastern countries (like Saudi Arabia), and lastly, Gaddafi gave in to all of the U.S. demands and was willing to leave. If it were law that our legislators voting for war had to go to the front lines themselves, or send their own children (or spouse) to the front lines first, we wouldn’t have wars. I don’t believe it serves our own country’s position of supporting humanity to laugh at the deaths of anyone, including Gaddafi.

          • EABeem

            Nothing you are saying is true. You are just repeating GOP lies. here are the simple fact from Snopes:

            WHAT’S TRUE: In 1975, young lawyer Hillary Rodham was appointed to represent a defendant charged with raping a 12-year-old girl. Clinton reluctantly took on the case, which ended with a plea bargain for the defendant, and later chuckled about some aspects of the case when discussing it years later.

            WHAT’S FALSE: Hillary Clinton did not volunteer to be the defendant’s lawyer, she did not laugh about the case’s outcome, she did not assert that the complainant “made up the rape story,” she did not claim she knew the defendant to be guilty, and she did not “free” the defendant.

          • EABeem

            P.S. St. Bernard would have had his own “rape” issue had he been the nominee, having written an essay in 1972 in which a woman fantasizes about being raped by three men at once. And both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have been accused of rape. So take your pick of presidential rape stories.

          • Aliyah33

            That’s particularly sick.

          • EABeem

            What is? You made a big deal about Hillary Clinton defending a rapist. I just pointed out that Bernie had a rape story dogging him, too. And both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have been accused of rape. The point being that “rape” is one of those things that pushes people buttons, so those buttons get pushed. Bottomline: Hillary did not laugh at the crime and she did not laugh at the victim, she laughed (a slight chuckle) recalling what a mess the prosecution made of the case.

          • Aliyah33

            No, Ed, in my opinion there are serious character flaws and a disturbing pattern of behaviors re Hillary Clinton (as already mentioned) indicative of psychopathy. Hillary’s “husband”, whom she’s happy to ride the coat tails of in order to get what she wants, is a sexual predator. Hillary’s positions are at odds in aligning with and supporting women, and she shouldn’t have been making any comments regarding the rape case, nor laughing about any parts of this case whatsoever. Being in the public eye, anything Hillary said and laughed about in this case also reached the now adult victim of a brutal rape. This girl was a child, and if it had been your daughter, I’m positive you wouldn’t feel so cavalier about it.

          • EABeem

            You have two choices and they will dramatically effect the future of this country. It’s Clinton or Trump. No one else can win. If you want a country that is a police state in which abortion is illegal, you vote for Trump or you vote for Johnson or you vote for Stein or you don’t vote. Trump would be a disaster as president. A Trump-appointed Supreme Court could be the wrist thing that ever happened to America. If you want a socially progressive country now and into the future, you vote for Clinton. It’s that simple.
            I don’t feel cavalier about anything. Clinton did not laugh inappropriately or insensitively. She hardly laughed at all. If you are concerned about the victim, then stop bringing it up. You are making a big deal out of nothing and, in the process, endangering our country.

          • Aliyah33

            You really are insensitive, Ed. And still wearing your blinkers, because we’re already in a police state. Nothing about Clinton’s simple for we the people, because she’s all about herself, her personal gains, money and power. Hillary doesn’t give an iota about you, either, but you can fool yourself into believing it. Hillary’s campaign has even been taking repeated withdrawals out of the “little people” who support her, hitting up their bank accounts several times. No one will be immune. Lol, now you say I am endangering our country. 🙂 Well, at least Russia agrees with you – they want Hillary Clinton as the U.S. president, take a look:

          • EABeem

            I am under no illusion that any politician cares about me. You, on the other hand seem to have a lot of illusions. Putin has endorsed Trump, who will be a Russian puppet president. Please see if, in the next month, you can find a way to vote for Clinton. All for now. Dinner guests arriving.

          • Aliyah33

            While Hillary was Secretary of State we had Russian counterparts ensconced in every U.S. Department (Education, Military, Cyber, Agriculture, etc.), and their names and contact numbers were on her Secretary of State government website. The Obama-Medvedev Commission…Hillary’s the puppet. You’ve failed to convince me to vote for Hillary…

          • Aliyah33

            Oh wow – absolutely nothing I’ve written is true? Ed, do you know who the people are behind “Snopes”? (It surprised me when I looked!) Did you ever look? Btw, even your “” isn’t on the ball, as a matter of fact, they printed a wholly false comment they said was from Peter Schweizer’s “Clinton Cash”. (What did you think about Clinton Cash? Here’s a Zero Hedge article with the full documentary linked:
            Geez, Ed, was Hillary even supposed to be discussing this case (and laughing) “years later”? Please, just give me a list of Hillary’s accomplishments on behalf of the people of U.S.A., and I promise to research it.

          • Aliyah33

            Ummm… already agreed with you re your 1st sentence, so I’m not sure why you’ve repeated this. I’ve heard the audio already; Clinton laughed. And she laughed about Gaddafi (CBS interview). So, you still believe the mainstream media – here’s “Libya: Ten Things About Gaddafi They Don’t Want You To Know” (Global Research):

            And I repeat – if the U.S. is to maintain its stance in support of humanity, it’s counter for any of our government officials to laugh at or about the death of others, including other world leaders.

          • EABeem

            I have listened to the tape, too. Clinton did not laugh at the crime, she laughed when she said the rapist passed a lie detector test which destroyed her faith in polygraphs and she laughed at the way the prosecution mishandles the evidence. There was nothing insensitive about it at all. The interview laughed more than she did, Conservatives have been wetting their pants over this story for decades. I’m surprised that you would be taken in by such an old, tired lie.

          • Kevin McCarthy

            Sanders himself denies that the DNC “rigged the votes.” In May on Face the Nation he said:”I wouldn’t use the word ‘rigged,’ because we knew what the rules were… I think it’s just a dumb process, which has certainly disadvantaged our campaign.”

      • Aliyah33

        “…people who make their own reality.”

        I agree with you, truther, on this, because it’s (the statement) tantamount to delusional thinking. What is truth (fact), therefore, isn’t delusional thinking. Specifically, I refer to facts regarding Hillary Clinton, and Chew’s comment below is apropos – we’re stuck choosing the candidate who will be least likely to do irreparable damage. Hillary Clinton’s responsible for deaths of several, while Trump is not. Hillary Clinton has committed several criminal actions, yet has not been charged on those criminal actions (why not?), while Trump hasn’t committed the same. I’m looking, but have yet to find this kind of dirt on Trump (even David Brock is offering money for this “dirt”). But for Hillary Clinton, there’s plenty; she reeks of criminality, and is blatantly protected. Just because Hillary’s a woman doesn’t mean she’s at all qualified to be President and Commander in Chief of our military. Heck she can’t even participate in a debate with Trump without cheating.

        Re “global warming” how does it explain the exponential increase in earthquake and volcanic activity… and why are scientists reporting the area under Greenland is heating up from below? Please research.

  • Chew H Bird

    Voting your conscience is not an empty gesture. Voting for who you believe will do the best job, regardless of odds, is what allows me to sleep at night. If I want to direct anger I need to rethink and find something positive to put forth instead.

    Regardless of political opinion and the wishes of other people, I find if I do my best each day to help make the world a better place I sleep at night and have gratitude for all that we have here in our country. To rant and rave about him or her, pro or con, good or bad, or whatever the day brings usually results in no gain for anyone (including myself). Much better to demonstrate through my own actions something positive rather than to allow fear and disappointment to embellish my thoughts.

    I do believe we have very poor choices from each major party and Mr. Johnson has made some significant gaffes. That said, when I consider his apology on national television and consider that he does not have deep pockets or team of advisers on all major issues, I am more forgiving of his faults than I am of the two well funded and highly opinionated offerings from our two major parties.

    • EABeem

      So you’ll feel good about yourself if America is saddled with a lunatic president?

      • Chew H Bird

        In my opinion, voting for the person least likely to do irreparable damage to our country is the right thing to do.

  • Jimmy_John67

    For the second week in a row I will post the same comment. Sadly it is even more applicable this week then it was last week. As much as he wants to say otherwise, it is abundantly clear that Ed Beem is one of the deeply angry and troubled souls on both sides of the political spectrum whose only goal is to sow the seeds of hate and squash civility and compromise. So sad and so destructive.

    “It is a special kind of ignorance and hate when a person bemoans a divided country while at the same time accepting only certain opinions and hurling insults and lies at those who don’t share those opinions. Ed Beem is a weekly example of this kind of blind, ignorant hate which is the thing truly dividing the country.”

  • Chooch

    I’ve had similar thoughts for many months now. Except, in my modest proposal, I would give the right-wingers states like Idaho, New Hampshire, Alabama, Mississippi, maybe a few more. They would deploy their low-tax, guns-for-all, no choice/freedom ideology and they’ll get 8 years to prove how it works.

  • knighthawk

    I’m hoping for clarification on one line in particular

    “Clinton and her supporters can institute universal single-payer health insurance that covers contraception and abortion”

    This seems absurd that universal health care would cover ANY abortion

    Look, I’m pro-abortion for the most part. I’m not religious. If the kid is gonna be born in a month or two, you probably shouldn’t get an abortion, but I understand in cases of rape or health risks to the mother that it would be great to have a healthcare system that can save the pain the mother has to go through by aborting the child, or help her out if the life is at risk.

    But without clarification, it almost seems like you’re implying that you would love to live in a society where mothers who just don’t want to have a kid can use tax payer money to get rid of it. It seems like a lack of empathy for the pro-lifers (who normally I think are a little too loud about the issue and may come across as lacking empathy themselves) but the moment you ask them to not only accept abortions, but pay for them too, just seems out of line. It’s like getting your way and rubbing it in out of spite.

    I hope that wasn’t what you were implying. If we scrapped the ACA and went to single payer, I would expect at the minimum there would be subsidized contraceptives and abortions in the aforementioned circumstances to be covered. But boy that’d be a can of worms if you had 2nd trimester healthy mothers using taxpayer money to “kill” a kid

    • EABeem

      I meant that health insurance would ideally cover contraception and all forms of reproductive health care including legal abortions in a Blue State presided over by a progressive president.

  • Ted Bernard

    Why will pay the blue state bills if there is a division?

    • EABeem

      Perhaps you didn’t notice that Blue States are more prosperous and better educated.

      • Jimmy_John67

        Perhaps you didn’t notice that Blue States also carry significantly more debt. Nine of the top ten states with the highest state and local debt per capita are Blue States. The most successful states in terms of achieving sustainable economic growth, strong wages, low poverty rates and manageable debt levels are actually the states that take a more moderate approach and combine aspects of both Red and Blue policies. I wouldn’t expect you to know that though since you prefer blind conjecture, ignorant half truths and flat out lazy research to promote your hateful and divisive rhetoric.

  • EABeem

    Okay, ladies and gentlemen, it’s official. Donald Trump has hinted at the assassination of Hillary Clinton if he loses and has threatened to jail her if he wins. And now Mini-Me LePage has advocated for authoritarian rule under Trump. They are both would-be fascist dictators. That’s why the majority if Maine people hate LePage and why Trump’s chances of winning are now below 20%. But the fact that people still support him is deeply, deeply threatening to the American democracy.