My Xantippe

Xantippe was the wife of Greek philosopher.  The word “shrew” was one of the nicer words his friends used to describe her. He observed that if he were a horse trainer, he would choose a horse who was spirited and demanding so his skills would be challenged, not one that was docile and obedient.  Not that he ever tamed Xantippe, but he learned to tolerate, accept, and sometimes mollify her, skills that stood him in good stead for life outside the household.

What exactly is a Xantippe? To me it is a person who  is convinced that she or he (they come in both genders) is always right and can do what they please without considering who else has a right to be involved, or who might be adversely impacted by what they say or do. A loose cannon.  A tyrant. Bossy. Unwilling to listen.

I have had Xantippes in my life. (Fortunately, my late husband was not one of them, and even my mother-in-law —Xantippe-like as she seemed in the early days of our marriage—became a good friend before her untimely death in 1976). There may even have been times when I was someone else’s Xantippe, and I hope that I am astute enough to recognize when that happens, although I tend to be somewhat oblivious. So, when I encounter one of my Xantippes, I have to figure out how to deal constructively with her/him. My first instinct is avoidance, or at least minimizing direct contact. I can try to tactfully dissent, although that is seldom effective. But since I live in a Xantippe-like political environment, I cannot let some of the outrageous statements go unchallenged lest they think that silence means affirmation. After these encounters, I can retreat to my silo of like-minded friends and share my experience with them.

Jon Kabbat-Zinn, the Buddhist teacher, says that each of our children are little Buddhas sent to teach us what we need to learn. Perhaps the same is true of the Xantippe school teachers, the classmates, the neighbors, the colleagues that we encounter. What do my Xantippes—or yours—teach us?

Jesus told us not to make a big deal of the speck in our brother’s eye and ignore the giant piece of wood in our own. I think that is the first Xantippe lesson. All of us can have Xantippe moments or events when we are wedded to our idea, our plan, our understanding of the situation. We need to be aware of attacks of Xantippe-ness within.  Second, we don’t want to let a difference of opinion explode into global war, destroying relationships and communities, so a certain amount of toleration and patience is called for.  My homeowners’ association labored under two years of petty tyranny before that particular Xantippe grew weary and frustrated with complaints and dropped out of leadership, leaving things much more tranquil. Finally, pick your fights carefully and calmly state your position. It takes a Xantippe to help us develop and hone that skill.

My seminary friends used to describe having an FGE—a (blank) growth experience, leaving it to the reader to supply the missing F adjective. Think of the Xantippes in your life as endless providers of FGEs. If those experiences lead you to develop the necessary coping skills, you will be a better person and more able to cope with those other Xantippes lying in wait. 

Good Question

After 50 years of teaching, I know what my response “good question” often means: It’s a way of saying that I don’t have a ready answer.  Sometimes my response was, let me check that out and get back to you next class. But the really good questions were not simple requests for information or even explanation.  They wanted me to go within and rethink something.  In all my years of teaching and learning, two questions stand out.

The first came from one of my favorite students, Peter, in a graduate class on ethics and public policy.  He asked me the difference between a virtue and a value. I had to chew on that one.  In the context of the course, my carefully thought-out answer was that sometimes a quality or attitude or behavior can be both a value and a virtue, and sometimes they are not.  Values are qualities of a good society, or a good marriage, or a good school, Values are social in nature. A virtue is a quality of a person.  Freedom, safety, and justice are values that we associate with a good state or nation.  Honesty, generosity, and compassion are personal virtues.  Justice is both a value (a just society) and a virtue (a just or fair person). Possessing or practicing that virtue can promote the values of whatever communities to which one belongs.  That distinction clarified my thinking in ways that were helpful to me and to my students.  It was a very good question.

Another good question came about at a church potluck.  I am a Unitarian Universalist, and as our name implies, most of us do not find the Trinity to be a meaningful part of our religious understanding. Kevin, sitting next to my, was a gay Catholic in search of a church home.  He asked, “If I was a Unitarian could I believe in God?” Since one of the seven principles that define our faith tradition is a free and responsible search for truth and meaning (a value), I assured him that the answer was Yes. Some of us do and some don’t, but we won’t tell you what to believe.  How about the Trinity, he asked?  Tougher question, and there was no next class coming, so I had to think on my feet.  Well, I said, it is not a common belief among us, but if you think of the Trinity as God beyond, God beside, God within, then it might fit better with the way most of us are inclined to think about the Trinity, if we think about it at all. Often a variant of these questions are asked of me as a Unitarian Universalist in the form of “Do you believe that Jesus was divine?” For that one I have a well-practiced answer.  “Yes, and so am I, and so are you, Jesus just got a bigger helping of divinity.”

My oldest daughter at the age of six asked me the standard question, Is Santa Claus really parents? Yes, I said, but we will still fill your stocking. Don’t tell your little sister yet, she’s only four. On through the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny, and finally, “How about God? Is he really parents?” “No,” I said, leaving the question one to be answered more fully at a later age.

For a couple of years, I had a friend with whom I had regular lunch and hiking visits.  What I treasured about her friendship was that she was always asking me questions like that, and I had to think through my answers.  We drifted apart, but I still remember her probing questions as being a core part of our friendship while it lasted.

Here is my question to you.  Two questions, in fact.  What questions—from a parent, a child, a teacher, a colleague, a student—have forced you to look within and come up with an answer that you had not already discovered? And do you return the favor, asking other people questions that encourage them to think deeper and harder about complicated questions of truth and meaning?

They Also Serve

This coming Saturday, I plan to visit a quilt show that takes place every other year up the road  in Seneca. (For those in the Upstate neighborhood, it’s at the Shaver Center on the 14th and 15th.) I am an occasional quilter, more of a seamstress. I was raised on my mother’s old treadle sewing machine, starting with doll clothes at age 7 and graduating to making most of my clothes, peaking with a wedding gown. Quilting, being more art and less utilitarian, came later. I took half a dozen classes and made everything from potholders to lap quilts. I was not gifted, but I was good enough to become and remain appreciative. Hence the quilt show.

I saw my first Shakespearian performance in high school and took a theater class in college, and that was enough to make me a lifelong theater fan. I passed that gift on to my youngest daughter during our sabbatical year in D.C. when she got to see lots of professional theater. I remain a live theater fan, and a proud supporter of my number three grandchild who majored in theater. I still muse about answering a casting call at my local amateur theater, but in the meantime, I attend four or five performances a year.

For thirty plus years I sang in church choirs, which are usually patient with imperfection. I had fairly decent pitch and could read music but was rhythmically challenged. I learned a lot from those years, especially how to find and sing the alto line, since my soprano voice from high school choir had dropped about an octave when I went back to choir in my 30s. I remain a fan of vocal music of all kinds—musical theater, choral groups, folk music. I go to concerts.

I am a good writer/speaker/preacher/teacher, and I appreciate a good and responsive audience. It was a long apprenticeship to become reasonably accomplished, although the desire to write and teach was clear in my childhood. I also enjoy listening to a good speaker and reading good writing, appreciating the craft at perhaps greater depth and being able to better discern the quality of the product. I can play both sides of that particular art form.

For music, theatre, art, and quilting, I am happy to be just part of an informed audience, someone who appreciates a visual or performing art that I know just enough about to catch the nuances and admire the effort and practice behind it. Being part of an audience is not passive. As Annie Dillard wrote, “We are here to abet creation and to witness to it…so that creation need not play to an empty house.”  Creativity is not limited to production. Taking on the role of engaged audience member is a gift to the artist. Find a way to give that gift this week.

Passionately Moderate In Print

Almost three years ago I posted this blog about my book in process. The title is Passionately Moderate: Civic Virtue and Democracy. Now it’s in print, available in paperback or digital form from amazon. I hope you will buy a copy and urge your friends to do likewise. For those of you who are more recent subscribers, here is the original blog from 2020.

How can you call yourself passionately moderate? I thought you were a liberal, ” my oldest daughter asks.  Yes, I answered, my personal preferences are liberal. Universal health care, a woman’s right to reproductive choice, a tax system that doesn’t favor the wealthy, affordable college and affordable housing…the list goes on. But I realize that a sizeable chunk of my city, state and nation subscribes to a different set of priorities and preferences, overlapping in some cases and diametrically opposite in others.  And even if my views were those of the majority, which they are in some cases, I don’t want to impose them on a frustrated and probably angry minority.  I am willing to compromise, to settle for the pretty good or even the good enough for now rather than holding out for the very best. I am passionate about openness to compromise, the give and take that means none of us get exactly what we want personally but what may be good enough, at least for now.  That makes me a liberal in theory and a moderate in practice.

Moderation lies at the core of the two academic disciplines I love the most and have taught to several generations of college students   I have a Ph.D. in economics from my early days and worked as an academic economist for 30 years.  Then I went to seminary and got a master’s degrees in theology with a concentration in ethics, which helped me to get my economic head and my theological heart on the same page. It also gave me the opportunity to teach ethics and public policy for 15 years to graduate students in policy studies because I was able to bring these two  disciplines together.

As both an economist and a theologian, I was interested in very practical questions about how we live our lives, and in particular, how we live in community.  For an economist, that means a focus on policy—making and implemented decisions that affect our material well-being in our common life.  For theology, my focus has been ethics, which was my concentration in seminary.  Theological ethics explores how our faith understanding guides our participation in governance in a democratic society. In the process of studying ethics, I fell in love with virtue ethics, which is not tied to any particular faith tradition but infuses all of them.

 The heart of Aristotelian virtue ethics, incorporated into late medieval scholasticism by Thomas Aquinas,  is moderation.  Moderation is fulcrum on which Aristotle’s golden mean rests. The golden mean, which we will explore further in later chapters, contends that each virtue lies at the midpoint between two vices (or sins, in Christian/Jewish language).  One vice is the virtue’s extreme, the other its opposite.  Aristotle’s notion of the golden mean fit perfectly into the decision processes of my economist mind and my progressive heart.

Thirty years ago, economist Alan Blinder wrote a book called Hard Heads, Soft Hearts, arguing that the Republicans were the party of hard heads, hard hearts, while the Democrats were the party of soft heads, soft hearts. What we needed, he argued, was hard heads and soft hearts–rational decision processes combined with compassion and empathy.The same dichotomy exists between economists and theologians—and in my head and heart.  It is in the middle meeting point that we engage both head and heart in dialogue with each other.

 The core of economic decision-making is also a balancing act, weighing costs and benefit, pain and pleasure, and steering a middle course rather than going to the extremes.  In fact, economics embodies utilitarian ethics, the greatest good for the greatest number.  It’s all about getting to get good outcomes.

Barry Goldwater got it wrong when, running for president in 1964, he said, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue..” He lost in a landslide. Mderation, along with patience, is a more likely path to human flourishing than extremism. In political economy (the old name of economics, it is economics as a guide to public policy), moderation is not just a principle, it’s a survival strategy. The successful candidate is ever in search of the median voter, constantly resisting the pull of the extremes where few voters reside.  Yes, there is lure of standing tall for what you believe, whether it’s an extreme version of the second amendment or free college for all;  rigid and unyielding in the face of pressure to compromise. It’s high drama, and it was Bernie Sanders’ strategy in both 2016 and 2020 when he failed to get the Democratic nomination But it doesn’t create or sustain communities in which we can dwell together in peace and enable humans to be nurtured and flourish.   So if you value a healthy and sustainable human community, please consider join me in declaring yourself a passionate moderate. With this qualification from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Moderation in all things, including moderation.”

The golden mean applies not just to virtue, but to other qualities of being.  I have friends who are perfectionists, which is frustrating for them because it is impossible to always be perfect, and so often the perfect keeps us from getting to the good enough. Perfection is the opposite of moderation.  Carelessness, indifference, apatheia represent its extreme.  Most of us invest our perfectionism—if we have any—in just one or a few areas of life. W vacillate between appreciating the gift that perfectionists bring and exasperation at the lack of big picture, the delays while everything is revisited one more time.  I have worked with perfectionists, and it has never been easy for either of us.

My passion for moderation is a passion for process, not outcomes.  In order to practice moderation as a commitment to good process, you have to let your inner Buddha guide you in letting go of attachment to outcomes. I do believe that in most cases that good processes are more likely to lead to good outcomes. Not best outcomes. Not perfect outcomes.  But again, outcomes that are steps in the right direction, or good enough for now. 

Note: This blog is an excerpt from the opening chapter of a book in progress.

Have You No Sense of Decency?

In 1953, 70 years ago, Joseph Welch, special counsel for the U.S. Army, asked that rhetorical question of Senator Joseph McCarthy.  The answer was, of course, no.  The same question could be posed to the Republican supermajority of the Tennessee House of Representatives, and once again, the answer is a resounding no. They voted on whether to expel from their body three Democratic representatives.  True to Southern culture, they expelled the two black males but kept the lone white female by a one vote margin.  They were expelled for representing their constituents’ deep concerns about gun safety in the wake of yet another school shooting, this one within shouting distance of the very state Capitol where the House was were meeting.

Expulsion, disenfranchising some 150,000 Tennessee citizens from being represented, is normally reserved for criminal behavior on the part of the accused.  This time, the accusation was a breach of decorum, in reaction to being persistently refused recognition by the Speaker.  At the same time, Wisconsin legislators have threatened to impeach the newly elected state Supreme Court justice before she is even sworn in.  Her crime? Disagreeing with their views on gerrymandering and shredding the right to reproductive choice. Wisconsin is an appropriate locale for this attitude, having given us Vince Lombardi’s famous quote, “Winning is the only thing.” Unless the other side wins?

In my home state of South Carolina, the General Assembly is contemplating a move from open to closed primaries.  It would mark the de facto return of the Jim Crow white primary, since the majority of the 40 percent of South Carolinians who identify as Democrats are people of color.  In many cases, the only time a South Carolina voter has a choice is in the primary, because the Republican primary winner frequently faces little or no opposition in the general election. Many of us treasure the right to pick which primary to vote in, depending on what’s at stake.

I have just published a book on Amazon with the title Passionately Moderate: Civic Virtue and Democracy (available in both electronic and paperback format).  I am passionate about democracy, and that passion means that winning comes second to maintaining healthy processes and listening to one another and yes, that dreaded word, compromise. I am encouraged to see the wheels of justice slowly turning in the case of those who would undermine democracy and exercise the tyranny of the minority by suppressing dissenting voices. But it is no time for complacency. It is well past time for all of us to wake up to the very real threat that we could lose our precious but fragile right to self-governance.

Enriched by Immigrants

Even as the Freedom Caucus and their MAGA friend demonize immigrants, it might be good to pause and give thanks for the immigrants in our lives.  Right now the most visible one is my DREAMer exercise instructor, from Mexico, who is a joy to sweat with. Then there are the people who come into my retirement community who tend lawns, clean houses, recover roofs, and work in the Health Care Center across the street.

A different set of immigrants enriched my education across cultures.  I worked with a  group of three women, married to graduate Students at Clemson University, from three different countries—Turkey, Libya, and China.  I was a volunteer teacher of ESL (English as a Second Language). They were all Muslims, all had ambitions—one wanted to be a dentist—and they were anxious to become sufficiently competent in English to pas the Graduate Record Exam.  I learned a lot about their religion, the family life, and their experience of the United States.  We spent one class practicing English by reading aloud from the college newspaper!

A larger group of immigrants who affected the way I experience the world were students in my graduate classes in policy studies from 2003 to 2017 who came from everywhere—Mexico, Uruguay, India, The Bahamas, Nigeria,  Angola, Burundi, Argentina, China, Thailand.  Both my behavioral economics class and my ethics and public policy class presented interesting cross-cultural challenges, because the way the economy works in the United States is quite different from heir experiences, and their cultures offered different perspectives on ethical questions. I also had to recognize that one student from Uruguay or Thailand was not necessarily a representative of the “species,” brought home when I had two students from Nigeria, one Catholic, one Muslim, disputing the issue of reproductive choice!

A final group that taught me some useful lessons were not immigrants but also definitely not Americans. They were suddenly liberated citizens of the former USSR, whom I encountered on a two week mission to Bulgaria in the 1990s after the fall of Communism. While my primary role was to help them sort out the role of local government in a market system, we also traded stereotypes and puzzlements about each other’s cultures. We got used to hearing from certain individuals who wanted to use the question and answer time to attack the evils of capitalism, and my partner Jim and I had a secret code when we thought that was coming. Th code was “central casting.” We invoked it when the speaker appeared to look and talk like someone sent over from central casting to play the Russian. During our final session, I was on question duty when a man spoke who was the spitting image of Nikita Khrushchev.  As the translator prepared to turn his question into English, I whispered to Jim, central casting! Not So. The question was, “who is in charge of parking in your cities and how much do they charge?” So much for stereotypes!

We need immigrants to fill the gaps in our labor force. We need them to teach us even as we teach them, and both be enriched by the encounter. We need to seek out more encounters with people who are different from us because we have useful perspectives to share as they do for us.

May you be blessed by the presence of the strangers among us, and help them to become strangers no more.

Choosing Your Battles

Sometime during my life path, when I was working as a full-time professional, active as a community volunteer, and raising three children, I had to admit that I couldn’t do everything. Even if I could do anything (not true: I can’t draw, keep time, or play any known sport), I had to make choices. Over the decades, I have acquired extensive volunteer organization leadership skills and experience. At the same time, my faith community and other organizations, like the League of Women Voters, keep vesting me with leadership roles, where I am supposed to look after everything.  How do I manage to have a life, focus more narrowly on doing a few things well,  and be effective?

My passion is for social justice in all forms, but my skills and expertise lie in economic justice. I My focus on economic justice doesn’t mean I don’t care about racial justice or justice for LBGTQ or climate justice or legal justice or any of the other challenges humans have devised that do or do not treat others as they deserve.  My answer is to draw a line between wholesale and retail, to use leadership skills for the wholesale side and my more specialized economic skills for the retail part.  As social action chair in my congregation, I draw on the League and other resources to stay alert for action opportunities on pending legislation or other events where people might want to express their opinions. I share them with the individuals who have passion, or expertise, or both in those areas.  I know which people to whom I should send information about climate change, discrimination, reproductive choice, and lots of other issues.  But I don’t respond to these calls for action directly (I do often send money) because I want to reserve my voice for where it is most likely to be heard, and that’s economic justice. I want to frame my arguments carefully so that those whose political perspective is different from my own might nevertheless be persuaded that there is something of value in what I have to say. And those whose perspective is closer to my own are more likely to use my points, arguments, suggestions. In that way, I have from time to time been able to influence legislation and even once in a great while, court decisions in my adopted very red state..

Most of you, I know, have particular causes or issues that are dear to your heart.  If you can focus on just a few and develop some expertise so that your head will support your heart, that’s great.  Maybe that focus is related to your work or career, like librarians fighting book banning, health care professionals having a say on women’s reproductive choice, teachers resisting politically motivated censorship of teaching actual history or encouraging critical thinking. A good friend of mine is a computer scientist who has dedicated herself to ensuring the safety and accountability of voting equipment, and her work has made a difference.  My nutritionist friend uses her skills to teach people to eat in more healthful ways and also to address world hunger.Or maybe that niche is defined by an avocation. A neighbor of mine is a quilter. She uses that skill to work with and promote the work of a worldwide organization that makes colorful kits of menstrual hygiene supplies for adolescent girls, so they don’t have to miss school and drop out. My animal loving friend devotes a lot of time and attention to finding good hoes for abandoned or unwanted animals.

Everyone has a skill, a passion, some specialized knowledge that they can use not only for their own satisfaction and that of family and friends, but also to make a difference in the world.  What’s your skill? What’s your passion? How can you join the two in a marriage that will give you joy and satisfaction and make the world a better place?

What’s This ESG Thing?

Most Americans have probably never heard of ESG, but it is the most recent battleground in the ongoing “woke/asleep” divisions in American life and politics.  Corporations have impacts on society in many ways, particularly in environmental behavior (that’s the E) and the way they treat customers, workers, communities, and suppliers (that’s the S).  The G is governance, which has to do with accountability, transparency, and self-serving behavior by management in collaboration with the board of directors, whose responsibility is to look after the best interest of their owners, the shareholders.

The Trump administration created a rule that forbade pension programs from allowing ESG to be a factor in decision-making. Biden’s Labor Department reversed that rule, not requiring ESG, just permitting it to be a factor in the decisions of pension fund managers. The House voted to restore the Trump administration rule, and the Senate, with three Democrats absent and two voting with the Republicans, agreed.  Biden will veto the bill, which Congress clearly cannot override because it would require a 2/3 majority.

The underlying issue is whether corporations have any obligation to society other than to maximize shareholder wealth, according to the gospel of Milton Friedman, whose answer is a resounding NO. (For those of you unfamiliar with Friedman, he is the guru of free market economics and minimum government.). A secondary issue is whether good corporate behavior in these areas promotes or detracts from shareholder wealth. There is some evidence that firms that treat customers, workers, suppliers and communities well are more profitable in the long run, but that’s open to debate.

The people who manage pension funds control a substantial share of investment assets and have a fiduciary responsibility to manage them in the best interest of their beneficiaries, both present and future retirees. Many state attorneys general and legislatures in red states have been vocally opposed to having their pension fund managers take ESG into consideration.  But there’s a problem.  Many of these pension funds rely on large financial firms to manage their public equity investments for them based on an index.  These large firms (Black Rock being the best known) hold the proxies for the pension funds and vote them on behalf of their clients, to save the pension fund managers the cost of having to scrutinize every proposal coming forth from every stock in which they have an investment. If the financial firm is into ESG, it will vote those shares accordingly. And Black Rock’s CEO has been vocally pro-ESG.

What’s a pension manager to do?  They want to keep their costs down, and one way they have been able to do that is by outsourcing the voting of proxies.  Many of them have turned to specialists in following, evaluating, and recommending how to vote those proxies, providing clear guidelines on their own criteria.

Most of you are in a pension program of some sort, whether retired or actively working. You might want to inquire as to how this is working out in your state.  Stay tuned, in the meantime, from the next barrage of anti-woke ammunition.

Saving Social Security and Medicare

I am a more or less blue person in a very red state. So I don’t write my representatives in Congress very often. I do lobby my state legislators whom I know personally and have a pretty good rapport with. But every now and then my economist self joins the fray and, having spent my career in a very conservative department, I practice the art of framing my argument from the right of where they are. Today it was Social Security and Medicare, and I was not lying when I said I was a fiscal conservative. I am. And this is a fiscally conservative argument.


I am writing to you because I am concerned about the future of Social Security and Medicare.  I know that both parties are committed to their survival and fiscal health. It is an intergenerational contract that has been with us for 88 years and one that our children and grandchildren are counting on as a safety net for their retirement.

As a fiscal conservative, I believe that we must pay for what we get from government.  Since these two programs are supported by FICA contributions, that source is the right place to look for funding. These Social Security and Medicare contributions are NOT taxes. They represent the cost of a retirement pension and insurance premiums for health care and for the possibility of outliving one’s assets. They are grounded in the ability to pay by making them a percent of income, and like many state defined benefit programs, they come with an employer match as deferred compensation and purchase of insurance

I would recommend a modest increase in the employer and employee premium from 7.6% to 8% and a significant increase in the wage cap to provide the additional funds.

Thank you for your consideration.


Holley H. Ulbrich

Alumni Distinguished Professor Emerita of Economics, Clemson University

Hurrah for the Red, Purple and Blue!

Marjorie Taylor Greene recently said out loud (or more likely, a tweet) that we should just split the country into red states and blue states, let them go their separate ways,  and diminish the role of the central government—in other words, return to the Articles of Confederation which were our national governing document for 1781-89.  She raises the interesting question of how one defines a red or blue state and how stable that definition might be.  (Arizona definitely moved toward the blue end of the spectrum in 2020 and 2022  compared to previous years.)

Perhaps the best measure of a state’s collective political orientation would be statewide votes for president, governor and senator, because these elections are not affected by gerrymandering for the U.S. House and state legislative districts.  So let’s start with her home state of Georgia, which in the last two senate elections went blue (both senators being Democrats) while the Republican governor was recently re-elected and the Democratic presidential candidate won the popular and electoral vote.  I would call that bluish purple, with three of the four tests being Democratic.  And Georgia is not alone.

Wisconsin has a Democratic governor, one Democrat and one Republican in the US Senate, and voted for Biden.  That also makes them bluish purple like Georgia.  Vermont has a Republican governor, two senators who are more or less independent but both caucus with Democrats, and voted for Biden. Maine has a Democratic governor, a Republican Senator, an independent senator who caucuses with the Democrats, and voted for Biden. Virginia has a Republican governor at the moment (the predecessor was a Democrat) and two Democratic Senators, and voted for Biden.  North Carolina is reddish purple with a Democratic governor, two Republican Senators, and voted for Trump in 2020. 

Yes, there are states that are entirely red—my home state of South Carolina, Florida, Texas, North and South Dakota, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho.   And there are states that are entirely blue—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois. New Mexico, California. But they are not a monochrome. Within those red states there are blue people and within those blue state there are red people.  And increasingly, there are  many, many citizens who consider themselves independents and wish that the reds and blues would stop treating politics like warfare and rather accept it as an imperfect but useful way of making collective decisions.

Secession was not the answer in 1861. It still isn’t. Time to learn to live together with respect and an open mind.