Press-Republican

Columns

November 11, 2012

A nation divided

Whew, that’s over now.

More than six billion dollars of commercials later, in what has become the “Television Station Advertising Relief Program (TSARP),” we have re-elected a president and produced a House and Senate each with a couple more Democrats. Very little has changed, except the spirit of a nation.

Half of the nation is overjoyed, and half is glum. Most claim the great divide is along party lines. Others argue it is along income, ethnic, gender or age lines. I think the divide is more complicated.

In the last half-dozen years, we have witnessed disasters at a distance, in New Orleans and in New York and New Jersey. We have also witnessed disasters locally, when Lake Champlain filled three feet over flood stage and when Hurricane Irene wrecked havoc.

The residents of Louisiana huddled, frustrated, as they viewed, at least from their perspective, benign neglect by a nation. Then, a hurricane hit the major urban center on the East Coast, and the resources of a nation are mobilized, even in advance of the storm. Here, the New York side of Lake Champlain is ignored when Lake Champlain experiences a thousand-year flood, while Burlington is rebuilt with state and federal aid.

A few months later, Hurricane Irene hit our region. Again, the eyes of the country are on Vermont, and FEMA swept in again to rebuild. It was widely reported that a couple of people died in Vermont in that storm, and rivers claimed sections of towns. Meanwhile, two lives were lost in Altona, as were whole sections of towns, but few noticed, especially FEMA.

I point out these differences because they portend to our nation’s divide. Burlington, an urban area, is the defacto political center of mass of Vermont. And New York City is the center of media and finance and hence political influence. Power and government are closely associated with urban centers.

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