I had a really good post ready for today. It involved the autumn leaf-raking ritual and a leaf blower skirmish I once had with an obnoxious neighbor who underestimated the downside potential of taking on an engineer who had unfettered access to advanced hi-tech hardware. The story ended with me on a 3 AM foray into his yard dressed in a black jumpsuit with a mission to plant milkweed seeds throughout his pristinely manicured lawn. It wouldn’t have gone down in the annals of history as a shinning example of great literature, but it was an entertaining story. I’m going to hold that one for next fall.
This morning, while I was making my normal rounds through the internet during breakfast, I came across an editorial by Matthew Dowd on ABCnews.com titled, “A United States ‘Spring’ Coming?”. In it he postulates that the United States might soon face its own version of the ‘Arab Spring’ where the youth of our country might act as a catalyst for a popular uprising of people saying “Enough is enough.” He goes to opine that such an uprising would be a good thing if done in a forceful and non-violent way. That’s a nice thought, but history shows that balancing ‘forceful’ and ‘non-violent’ is a tricky endeavor.
I was drawn to Mr. Dowd’s editorial because the scenario he presents is very close to the one that happens in the Chara’s Promise universe. Once, while answering a reader’s question long ago, I mentioned the prequel to Chara’s Promise was the story of how the United States broke apart into three separate countries. In that story a popular uprising starts when a far right-wing administration dismantles most of the social safety net in the United States and, after a bloody and protracted civil war, the remnants of the old United States begin to rebuild.
That’s a story many authors have written. Probably the closest to my version was Orson Scott Card’s Empire and the sequel, Hidden Empire. The plot and events are significantly different between Card’s novels and mine, but the two tales both envision a red/blue split in the United States. Card’s is cleaner and simpler. Mine is muddied intentionally by the inclusion of a third political force. I detest Card’s politics and personal views, but he does tell good stories.
I’m intrigued that someone, especially someone with a national audience and who doesn’t dabble in writing fiction, has finally opened a serious dialogue about the potential of a permanent political split in the United States. It’s also interesting that he recognized that this isn’t a simple ideological split in the upper political levels of our government. Mr. Dowd is accurately describing a fundamental and incompatible philosophical difference at the grass root level of our country.
Unlike our last civil war, which one side went into with long odds and a losing hand, how a war this time might end wouldn’t be nearly so easy to call. From a fiction writer’s standpoint, that makes the subject a tempting target. From a citizen’s standpoint, it makes the possibility a frightening scenario. Our populace and our state governments are too well armed and too polarized for us to have any reasonable expectation that a ‘United States Spring’ would be non-violent or of short duration.
I hope our politicians all read Matthew Dowd’s editorial tonight and that, in the quiet of the evening while sipping a brandy, they spend a few minutes trying to play out a hypothetical uprising in their mind.
While it’s fun to play around with that theory in a science fiction novel, it’s a Kobayashi Maru scenario that scares the shit out of me in real life.