The Two Americas

Whenever I write anything about America, I have to take into account that it is actually two countries, and these days it’s becoming more and more transparently obvious.

One America is made up of literate, intelligent, generous people who see America for the melting pot country that it really is, and willingly embrace the addition of people from other lands and cultures, because they know that this is what makes their country so desirable to people from around the world. They also know that these people will work hard and bring skills and intelligence to the country that only add to its appeal and ultimately to its success in the world.

The other country is made up of people who are pretty much exactly the opposite. They tend to believe that America is a country that was founded by white Christian people and that that is the way it should be. They resent anyone who disagrees with them, which is pretty much everybody in the Other America. A lot of these people have been manipulated into thinking that way by right-wing zealots. But most of them feel that way because that’s the way their parents think and the way that their communities act, and so all they are doing is carrying on a tradition.

And if you add to this the fact that the vast majority of these people have never traveled more than a couple hundred miles from their homes, they hold onto those beliefs, which are constantly reinforced by right-wing politicians.

So what you end up with is Two Americas. One defined by its progressive and egalitarian nature and the other is defined by its regressive pro-white Christian nature.

And now with the incredible proliferation of communication, these Two Americas are easier to see than ever. And in the middle of it all, you have a government that is divided in the same way as the country because people really do get the government they deserve.

One side of the government wants to have programs that lower the cost of health care, make emigration to the country easier,  lower drug prices, close tax loopholes to get the wealthy paying their fair share of taxes, develop alternative energy sources before carbon emissions start choking the world to death, and work to keep America in the forefront democratic nations,

The forces in opposition oppose all of that but don’t really appear to have any solutions in mind, because their politicians have been co-opted by big business, big pharma, and big fossil fuel energy. And for some unfathomable reason, have the support of almost everyone in the Other America. So their only interest is in preserving the status quo.

And so it sits. The most prosperous nation on the face of the earth with no social safety net to speak of, no control over drug prices, virtually no support for alternative energy development no universal health care, no sane national gun laws, and a Supreme court that has become completely politicized, leaning to the right.

But most importantly, what these Two Americas are lacking is a way to get back to being one, at a time when One America could set an incredible example to the world of how a real democracy should function.

All this petty bickering that has split the country has also sent a message to the world about just how fragile a system real democracy can be.

I wish I could tell you I have an idea for a solution, but the fact of the matter is, I have seen nothing to indicate that a solution is even possible. But then again, America is famous for pulling rabbits out of hats, so who knows? What I do know now is that Two Americas is definitely not better than one.


Jim Murray
Jim Murray
I have been a writer since the age of 14. I started writing short stories and poetry. From there I graduated to writing lyrics for various bands and composers and feature-length screenplays, two of which have been produced. I had a  20-year career in senior positions in Canadian and multi-national agencies and a second career, which began in 1989, (Onwords & Upwords Inc), as a strategic and creative resource. Early in 2020, I closed Onwords & Upwords and effectively retired. I am now actively engaged, through blogging and memes, in showcasing businesses that are part of the green revolution. I am also writing short stories which I will be marketing to film production companies. I live with my wife, Heather, in the beautiful Niagara Region of southern Ontario, after migrating from Toronto, where I spent most of my adult life.

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  1. Jim, I don’t comment on many articles, as I would be non the computer all day long joining in the conversations, but I do scan the headlines of each article and yours caught my eye. In your last response to Alan, you share your thoughts on two people where it seems you know the division between two people, leaning more towards one than the other. I share your thoughts on most of what is written, but I don’t feel we are better off with the current administration who has definitely divided this country in more ways than one and regardless of two Americas or one, the people need to speak up. I have to say that I don’t share the last line of your comment to Alan, and I can only hope that this bitterness and hate that has seeped into our United States along with the corruption of the powerful leaders changes.

    • Thanks Lynn. All I can do is try and reflect my interpretation of what I see. I do a fair bit of reading on both sides and try to reflect that. I believe that no matter who is running the government, they are going to be seen as divisive, and that, to me, is a reflection of the wide schism between the left and the right in your country. It’s also a reflection of the sensationalist bent of almost all of the US news media, who are fanning the flames for the sake of putting bums in seats and keeping their market share strong. I do believe the country is moving towards some form of authoritarianism. And if that’s the case I would think benign is more preferable than brutal.

  2. Jim – History, especially of the U.S., was my area of focus in college, and I taught U.S. History at the high school level for years. I continue to be its student.

    The interesting fact about America is that it has ALWAYS been bifurcated. We were never this united, blissful whole that somehow lost its way. Ken Burns’ recent documentary on the U.S. response to the Holocaust is a great primer and reminder. It is so ironic that our worse impulses as a people came to light when we were trying to eradicate some of those same impulses that were evident in the dictatorships of the 1920s/1930s.

    We have always been a nation where some wanted to actualize the inclusivity promise in our founding documents and on the Statue of Liberty, and others wanted to return it to some imagined pure past. MAGA is only the most recent incarnation.

    Our national tug of war, though, has never been about the “literates” versus the “deplorables.” There are highly educated people on both “sides.” (Think “SCOTUS.”) This is a struggle of long-held values and beliefs. At times, our differences simmer below the surface; at other times, they bubble up and are more evident — as they are today. Sometimes, they erupt.

    But they have always been there. Our curious dilemma is that we have always been a nation of immense promise, treading water in a swirling undercurrent of intolerance. (That struggle is why there is a strong movement in education today to restrict what we can teach our children about our past.)

    We can trace this divisiveness back to our origins as a species. The Indigenous people of Australia talk in their folk tales about it. To paraphrase, our evils as humans began when one human adopted the belief that “I am better than you.” That belief has been codified into the man-made construct of “race,” it’s been codified into the world’s religions, and it’s been codified into the ever-present struggle over national boundaries. (If you know Russian history, Putin’s psyche and actions are nothing new.)

    History doesn’t provide the answers; it’s just a mirror we can hold up and decide what to do with our reflection.

    • Thanks for your comment Jeff. I do understand that there has always been this undercurrent flowing through America since the beginning. But for a lot of people in the world, perception is reality and it really wasn’t until very recently that the depth of those divisions became painfully obvious to the world. Maybe it’s just that there is so much more availability of information these days that we’re really starting to see a lot of the ugly details. Seems like before the advent of the internet, America could control the narrative much better than it can these days. This piece is really just my opinion, like they all are, but I see your country much closer to another civil war than it has been in quite some time. I’d hate like hell to see that happen. But until you have someone at the top of the pile who appeals to both sides, and can unite the country, there’s going to be conflict.

  3. I concur with Alan’s comment, Jim, but I do want to highlight the insight that whatever is probably always was the case – USA had a left and right with very different agendas – but until they could shout at each other directly through Twitter, the enmity hadn’t reached the current levels.
    It is a pity that such a great country is politicized from the fringes when most people don’t live there.

    • Thanks for the insightful comment, Charlotte. If you read my reply to Alan Culler, you will see why I wrote that. And I agree that most of the people do not live in the fringes. But right now, they really need to step out of the silent majority booth and make their voices heard. Otherwise your country is headed to a place that no real American would ever want to dwell in.

  4. Hi Jim
    I hear the pain you feel about my countries divisions. These are tough times.
    I’m pretty sure you’d place me in your first group of “literate, intelligent, generous people.” I get that many of the faults you identify among the opposite group are real and many have been encouraged by right wing politicians and wealthy people.

    I also think that talking about the divide in this way isn’t convincing anyone to work together to “pull a rabbit out of the hat.” Those, like me, who agree with you, don’t want to fan the fire. Those who disagree with you stop reading after the point when you call them “illiterate, unintelligent, and stingy.”

    I have in my life been very liberal. I started an SDS chapter on my college campus in Kentucky in the late sixties. I have also been very conservattive -post attending the London Business Schoo, which was the darling of the Thatcher government in the early eighties.

    I have swung left again, but not without an understanding of people who want less government not more, people who want the government that they do have to be more local and less federal. People who generalize from the abuse of social safety net programs to say that “people need to pull their own weight not be handed things.”

    There’s a lot of crazy her,e a lot of people who are suseptable to misinformation, “our founders were all white, but many were Deists, which isn’t Christian, more like Unitarianism-lite. They put together a pretty good governement for White male landowners like themselves, but they punted on the whole how much government do you want and at what level. They did that because confronting it would have ment confronting slavery and nobody wanted to do that not the beneficiaries of free labor nor the beneficies of low price.

    America has gotten better over the years, but it is very slow and up and down, back and forth. I believe we’ll get through this eventually, and hopefully without another war.

    I don’t ask you to stop throwing brickbats. You gotta do what you gotta do. Just don’t expect them to be effective at changing anything.

    In Peace and Love, man

    • Thanks for your comment, Alan. Two things about that. I believe the Biden administration spent a year and a few months trying to cooperate with the Republicans to no avail. If anything they got even more entrenched in all their ridiculous behaviour. Mostly because of Trump’s control of a huge right wing voter block. So now Biden’s playing hardball, after a fashion, and starting to get things done.
      Second thing is that Trump is still out there misleading the people with lies and the media is eating it all up. So as long as he’s out there and getting a lot of exposure, there won’t be any room for cooperation. Most of the people he reaches are politically ignorant, and don’t even try to have a more balanced picture of what is going on in the country. I believe it’s called willful ignorance. And now, as Trump’s star is finally starting to fade, you’ve got people like deSantis out there trying to prove he’s as authoritarian as Trump. I don’t think the Republicans will succeed, because I do believe they have alienated the vast majority of women and they will use that power to vote people out. As far as throwing bricks. I post here but I write primarily for a Canadian audience and a lot of people keep asking what’s going on down there. But if America gives me something to cheer about, like a clear Dem win in November, I will be its biggest cheerleader.