Somewhere a Place for Us
In the words of Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer in West Side Story (actually, they lip-synched it so you are really hearing Marni Nixon and Jimmy Bryant, but click on the link anyway and let the song play in the background),
There’s a place for us
Somewhere a place for us
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us
Okay, I changed the last word; but Natalie and Richard started it with the lip-synching. We probably need to draw out the syllables to do the original justice.
On June 12, the highly-respected Pew Research Center released a study entitled “Political Polarization in the American Public How Increasing Ideological Uniformity and Partisan Antipathy Affect Politics, Compromise and Everyday Life.” One of the attention grabbers was the finding that a significant number of respondents would not want their son or daughter to marry a member of the other political party. Got it now: Maria, the Puerto Rican Shark; Tony, the American Jet; Democrats; Republicans?
Polarization did not just fall out of the sky and, if the blow-dries and their handlers among the politerati have decided that this level of division best serves their interest (if not necessarily yours), let’s try another way of unhorsing them.
Imagine the people whose views you dislike and their politics too. Imagine being rid of them. Imagine if people pretty much agreed on stuff, we’d hardly need a government at all. No need to tell people what to do if they do it anyway.
Don’t look for a link to the lyrics of Kumbaya or a whimper of “can’t we all just get along.” I am not suggesting asking people to get along I am simply noting that people are choosing to live with others with whom they already get along.
Here’s an example.
Say you prefer:
- Low crime, maybe none (okay a few bar fights now and then)
- No unemployment (if you lose your job you have to leave)
- No needy old people (unless they can prove they are not needy)
- No homelessness
- No welfare
- Low taxes
- Good airport
- High speed internet
- Wide open immigration (as long as you have a job)
- Mandatory gun ownership and training (there’s a reason for this but it comes later in the sales pitch after you are hooked)
- No need for pesky sun screen
All of those bullet points in that big long list? Yup, those are the rules in Svalbard.
This is a good moment to credit Andrew Higgins of the New York Times for his story entitled “A Harsh Climate Calls for Banishment of the Needy.” There were no lip-synching allegations in the writing of that story.
By now you are pretty much tipped off that Svalbard is a little out of the way. It is almost 1300 miles north of both Helsinki and Oslo and, for you English people who become apoplectic about the European Union, more than 1900 miles from Brussels. I could not figure out how far it was from Washington but let’s go with pretty far.
The guns are mandatory if you go out walking in case you encounter a polar bear. (That seemed as good a place to slip that in as any.)
Sound like a good answer to you? If not, contemplate the idea that it is the answer you will get as long as polarization pays the politicians and their handlers.
It might not even be necessary to go to Svalbard; the geographic self-selection is already happening.
Give it a thought next time you read something about Sunnis and Shi’ites. It takes work to keep a fight going since the seventh century.