Webster’s describes symbiosis as “the intimate living together of two kinds of organisms, esp. where such association is of mutual advantage.” America has always been a prime example of democratic symbiosis. There have always been two distinct organisms, liberal and conservative, that have managed to balance each other’s excesses via the ballot. The result has been an uneasy alliance that allows a liberal culture to flourish without fear of censorship and a conservative business atmosphere that creates enough wealth and stability to support the luxury of dreaming instead of worrying about mere survival. With these tools Americans have built the most vibrant creation engine ever imagined by human beings.
But the model has broken down. There are too many who seem to believe that one can survive without the other; that any further accomodation will result in the destruction of both. Republicans and Democrats would rather forgo legislating if it doesn’t advance their agenda and put some new restriction on their adversaries. Give and take has been replaced with all or nothing.
Can one survive without the other? On his blog, George Rebane has debated the idea of a “Great Divide” in which the aggrieved parties do the India/Pakistan two-step to live with likeminded neighbors who won’t call the cops on them every other day.
But the logistics would be difficult to navigate. For instance, Republicans are the majority in the Sierra Nevada, but what Enviro-crat would ever dream of giving up John Muir’s cathederal? And the liberals on the coast would be totally at the mercy of the Republic of the Sierra Nevada for their share of life-giving water. We remember that Mark Twain told us that whiskey is for drinkin’ and water is for fightin’ over.
In the years it would take to accomplish the division, probably with violence, America would be a shallow shell of its former self. While we worry about survival, other nations would move to fill the void. The only arrow left in the quiver would be a huge nuclear arsenal to throw our weight around, assuming we haven’t used it on each other.
Personally, I don’t want to live in a pure capitalist or pure socialist state. For all the faults I find in those I disagree with, I value their knowledge and experience, and most of all, their ability to curb the excesses of a one-sided government. The balance has served us well, whether either side will acknowledge it or not.
Ronald Reagan said he wanted to paint in bold colors rather than soft pastels, but how many people paint their houses fire engine red or electric blue?