Friday, November 05, 2004

Simon Schama on the two Americas, in today's UK Guardian:

"We are one nation," the newborn star of Democrats, Senator-elect Barack Obama, exclaimed, even as every salient fact of political life belied him. Well might he invoke Lincoln, for not since the Civil War has the fault line between its two halves been so glaringly clear, nor the chasm between its two cultures so starkly unbridgeable. Even territorially (with the exception of Florida, its peninsular finger pointing expectantly at tottering Cuba), the two Americas are topographically coherent and almost contiguous. One of those Americas is a perimeter, lying on the oceans or athwart the fuzzy boundary with the Canadian lakes, and is necessarily porous and outward-looking. The other America, whether montagnard or prairie, is solidly continental and landlocked, its tap roots of obstinate self-belief buried deep beneath the bluegrass and the high corn. It is time we called those two Americas something other than Republican and Democrat, for their mutual alienation and unforgiving contempt is closer to Sunni and Shia, or (in Indian terms) Muslim and Hindu. How about, then, Godly America and Worldly America?

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