The term "balkanization" is used to describe the fragmentation of a region or state into smaller regions or states that are often noncooperative with each other. Like New York and Tennessee. In New York, it is legal for gay men and women to marry each other. In Tennessee, junior high school social studies teachers will soon be unable to teach that fact, because they will be forbidden to use the word "gay."
There have always been differences between states' laws. I remember as a college student in Missouri driving to Kansas, where the legal drinking age for beer was 18. But being able to exercise such a fundamental right as getting married should be beyond the control of our balkanized state statutes.
We are becoming increasingly fragmented as a country. I put the blame for this on the vacuum at the top, where the buck stops, as Harry Truman understood. President Obama has not turned out to be a forceful leader. In fact, the president he reminds me of most in recent times is George Herbert Walker Bush, whose famous "prudence" and waffling cost him a second term.
By sitting on the fence on so many issues, Obama has managed to make himself a target for those on either side. I get daily emails from conservative organizations telling me Obama is going to take away our guns and allow immigrants to take over our schools and bankrupt our health care. Send money to fight the evil socialist, they say. I get daily emails from progressive groups who claim Obama has abandoned his supporters and is giving away the store to big corporations and Republicans in Congress. Send money, they say.
The Republicans have even grabbed the anti-war message, criticizing Obama's actions in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. (Where were these guys during W's terms?) And frankly, why shouldn't they? Obama's making it easy for them.
The economy's stalling, but Obama didn't make the case for ending the Bush tax cuts from his bully pulpit. Now it's too late. You can say, as many do, that we're still reeling from the profligate Bush years, but nobody cares about whose fault it is at this point. The buck stops, etc.
But maybe Obama isn't a waffle iron. Maybe he's a ninja, lying in wait, hoping the Republicans do something as stupid as nominating Michele Bachmann for president, thereby destroying their national credibility for the next decade. Maybe it's all part of his plan to win a second term. Then he can take away our guns and put the Mexicans in charge.