Divided We Fall
by Trent Reedy
In the near future, the United States is fracturing as the division between right- and left-wing politics escalates out of control. President Rodriguez and Congress have passed a law requiring all U.S. citizens to replace their Social Security cards with digital ID cards, which they claim will curb illegal immigration and streamline government services. Opponents say the cards are a way for government to easily collect personal information and conduct surveillance. Things are really heating up in Boise, Idaho, where Governor Montaine vehemently refuses to implement the new law.
At seventeen, Danny Wright has a plan for his future. Like his dad, who was killed in Afghanistan, he wants to serve his country. As Danny reflects, “I loved my home and I loved America, and I was willing to fight and defend them, to defend freedom and protect the people I loved.” So he joins the Idaho National Guard, planning to save a little money, get some vocational training, and return to his hometown, Freedom Lake, where he and his girl, JoBell, can settle down.
Everything changes when Danny gets a call to report for Guard duty. The troops are sent to Boise to help quell a large demonstration outside the Capital. Danny is appalled that they are there, armed with weapons and releasing tear gas on civilians. Then a rock hits Danny’s gas mask, nicking his gun hard enough that it fires. More shots ring out. When it is over, twelve people are dead.
Although the book focuses on Danny and his friends, Reedy also includes a cacophony of opinions via web comments, news reportage, wild speculation, and political rants. Through this stream of outside information, readers see how easily the media frames events for their own purposes. Danny is vilified as a murderer by some, and praised as a hero by others. For his own part, Danny is shocked and saddened by his accidental involvement in the gravest crisis our country has faced since the Civil War.
One of the most dynamic elements of this book is its examination of the Constitution. Most teen readers will have studied the Constitution at some point in their education. but it becomes a lot more potent when citizens debate its interpretation. Readers are challenged to really examine Article Six, Clause Two, which reads:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.
This is known as the Supremacy Clause, as it states that federal law is supreme over state law. If, using the incidents of this book as an example, the Idaho state assembly votes to nullify the government ID cards, they may be in violation of the Constitution. Supporters of Idaho’s action may use another part of the Constitution, the Tenth Amendment, to argue that the federal government never had the authority to pass the law in the first place. The Tenth Amendment reads:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Where is the issue of ID cards addressed in the Constitution? What if other states agree with Idaho and nullify the law in their states? How will the federal government act? Most importantly for Danny, who will he be fighting – the United States government or the Idaho state government? Readers will find themselves sorting out the arguments and formulating opinions of their own.
Divided We Fall is the first book in a trilogy.