2103: Midcontinent Rift System

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Midcontinent Rift System
The best wedge issue is an actual wedge.
Title text: The best wedge issue is an actual wedge.


Recently, USA politics has caused polarization of the public.[1] It is said to be “split” in two camps (liberal and conservative). Here Black Hat is trying to get elected by promising he will actually split America in two. His presentation illustrates, using a giant crowbar, the completion of the Midcontinent Rift, which is a large crack that started to form about 1.1 billion years ago, but failed to completely sever the continent.

It is unclear why anyone would vote for such a thing, but people directly affected (the Midwest) are likely to vote against Black Hat. While Black Hat and his campaign advisor Ponytail speak of weakness in the Midwest, they are talking about two different things: Black Hat refers to the physical weakness of the North American Plate in the Midwest due to the geological rift which he thinks could be exploited by a large enough crowbar, while Ponytail is referring to a political weakness for Black Hat’s campaign in the Midwest due to the likely-unpopular proposal (different regions of the US have different voters and populations who have different priorities and stances, so candidates and their campaigns’ platforms will likely be more popular in some regions and less popular in others). In this case a successful or attempted completion of the rift would likely result in the destruction of millions of houses, buildings, and other man-made structures, not to mention the deaths of many humans (if proper evacuation were not fully implemented and enforced) as well as millions of animals that could not be evacuated. The proposal would also cause huge economic impacts; the Midwest produces a significant proportion of America’s food supplies and hosts important economic centres, such as Chicago and Cleveland. So the popularity among those directly or even indirectly affected is likely quite low. The successful passing of a highly destructive measure such as this would generally involve more direct and overwhelming compensation of the many interests that would otherwise be harmed, to incentivize them to vote against their present livelihood.

The title text is a pun. A wedge issue is a controversial issue which splits apart a demographic group. It is often introduced to create controversy within an opponent’s base so that if the opponent takes any position on the issue, half the voters will desert the opponent. Here the joke is that the “wedge issue” is an actual wedge to split apart the United States.


[A map of North America shows the Midcontinent Rift System as a red line curving through the Great Lakes and down through the midwestern United States.]
1.1 billion years ago, the North American continent began to split in half.
[Black Hat stands at a lectern with a "Vote 2020" sign on it. He gestures to an image of the globe with a giant crowbar inserted in the rift with an arrow indicating applying pressure to widen the rift.]
Black Hat: We don’t know why it stopped. If elected, I vow to finish the job. Thank youl.
[Ponytail, Black Hat, Megan, and Cueball walk to the right away from a set of stairs. Cueball is looking at a phone and Ponytail is looking at a device or paper with writing on it.]
Ponytail: Great job up there.
Black Hat: Thanks! How are my polling numbers?
Ponytail: Well, I’m seeing some weakness in the Midwest.
Black Hat: So am I. So am I.
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Needs an explanation of the rift system itself. What is it? When did it form? How did conservatives feel about it at the time? (It’s definitely not a reference to Palladium Rifts, which would be a whole different thing!) ProphetZarquon (talk) 16:12, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

If Black Hat runs, I vote for him. 15:15, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

--If Black Hat runs, we all vote for him. Even if we don't vote...-- 00:01, 16 February 2019 (UTC)

Has anyone else thought of all the new beach front property that would be created? Lex Luthor would be proud. 15:32, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

I have always thought the US ought to have a large shallow inland sea.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 15:38, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

It is unclear why would anyone vote for such a thing, but people directly affected (the Midwest) are likely to vote against Black Hat.

In the interests of accuracy, it should be noted that 2016 showed that it being unclear why anyone would vote for a thing doesn’t stop them from doing so, eagerly. Even when they are are going to be directly affected very adversely. 18:00, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

Actually we ended up with a large shallow outlandish president instead. 18:31, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

The reason why people vote to abandon European Union in BRexit is obvious: they think that institutions of European Union would create laws, decisions etc which would hurt them even worse than BRexit. Now, you may not agree with this, but you can’t say it’s completely unfathomable. – Hkmaly (talk) 23:55, 25 January 2019 (UTC)

There is an North American Midcontinent Rift as described at the start of the comic. See for example https://eos.org/features/new-insights-into-north-americas-midcontinent-rift or the Wikipedia page about it. Someone much more knowledgeable about geology than I am probably ought to update the explanation. D Gary Grady (talk) 02:39, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

I was thinking the giant crowbar is just an illustration trick, and it would be likely done with explosives or something. 12:45, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

The crowbar would work, provided it was big enough and one had been able to resolve Archimedes' dilemma — Δώσε μου μια θέση να σταθώ, και θα μετακινήσω τη γη.RAGBRAIvet (talk) 09:10, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
Hmm ... I guess you'd want your fulcrum and standing position to be affixed to the half of the earth that you want to stay put relative to you. You could probably find a fulcrum on the earth. You're likeliy in a space suit with a strong tether. You'd have to some how get the end of the crowbar deep inside the rock under the soil, or you'd just dig a trench. I'm suspecting it would have to be _really_ deep to actually split the continent and not just knock some huge rock chunks out like when blasting is done to reshape the landscape. You'd then have to travel far enough in outer space in order to move the rock with enough significance to produce the size of rift desired, and I don't expect things to get too much easier as the rock breaks because you are almost trying to shift entire tectonic plates. I'm thinking you'd run into major issues traveling far enough to push the crowbar, but this could be resolvable with machines. A remaining issue would be placing the crowbar deep enough to actually shift a plate. We've dug incredibly deep holes, but I'm not sure quite _that_ deep. The final issue is that a material would be needed that is strong enough to withstand the inner forces that would be required to shift an entire tectonic plate. The lever would have to be incredibly thick in order to withstand all the strain involved with the relatively-weak metals we have. At that point it would be so heavy and wide that countering its friction could be a monumental feat. I think that leverage is probably one tool for this job, but that other creative tools would need to be combined with it to actually succeed. I don't believe Archimedes! 12:59, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

As a Cascadian Separatist, I'm all for this plan. Near as I can tell, the only thing the east coast does for the west coast is spend money. Seebert (talk) 14:00, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

Should mention that it's also known as the Keweenawan Rift, pronounced QAnon Rift.