If you’ve turned on any screen today, you’ll know we are in a government shut down and that both sides have started pointing fingers and yelling. I’m not going to talk about that. What I do want to talk about is how this should come to no surprise to anyone. “What do you mean no surprise?” Well, first of all, this has happened before both in the Clinton and Obama administrations. So yeah, it will probably happen again. But the second and probably the bigger reason is it was only a matter of time. Since Joel Gareau’s 1981 book entitled Nine Nations of North America and more recently The American Nations by Colin Woodard the theory has been put forth that we are just a collection of tribes or nations, and they aren’t wrong.
In fact, that’s exactly how the United States started out. Our states were tiny nations under a main governing body much like the EU structure of today. In fact, that was one of our biggest hurdles during our country’s infancy. Should we have a strong federal government or should we have strong individual state governments? We all know how that played out. One only has to look around to see the long arm of the Feds, but I digress. Those nation states were settled and populated by people with many different cultural backgrounds and religions, some completely different and opposite of the other.
Now fast forward 200 years, those core beliefs have continued to be passed down but our numbers and land we claim as our own have grown exponentially. What started out around 3 million in the 1790s has grown to 300 million. And though we as a people are very mobile, we also tend to stick to areas that feel the most like home and share our overall belief system. With so much many different moving parts to our government and all the diversity of its people, how can one central government meet the needs of such a diverse group? What is the phrase? ‘You can’t be all things to all people.’
And, let’s not forget the whole tribe thing. Don’t tribes often disagree and fight with one another? Do the Twelve Tribes of Isreal come to mind? Those poor people have been fighting on over the same patch of dirt for thousands of years. Hell, they don’t even remember why they are mad at each other.
So yeah, it’s no surprise. The question that keeps ping ponging around in my brain and will probably land me on some government watch list is how will this all play out? Different tribes are drawing lines in the sand regarding various issues. The ‘us versus them’ mentality is as high as I have ever seen – granted I did not live through the civil rights movement and that was a heavy time – but this seems like it’s shaping up to be just as big. Can our country handle all the tribes with their different demands? I don’t know.