Let’s stop romanticizing national divorce and entertaining the horror of civil war

Oct 13th

Sunday morning, as the vast majority of Americans were at church, sleeping late, talking about how the previous day saw some of the best college football games in years, or heading to a late breakfast, "Civil War" was trending on Twitter. There's a lesson there about the hysterical nature of the social media platform, which often succeeds at convincing people the manufactured outrage of a few represents the sentiment of the masses.

It also reveals how flippantly so many within our population regard the horrific prospect of an armed conflict between fellow citizens. For instance, the Twitter trend was provoked by this video of a recent Trump-rally attendee:

The willingness of some in MAGA world to entertain such a dreadful possibility is alarming to say the least. Comedian Bill Maher has been an unlikely voice of reason lately, issuing commentaries almost every week that dig at the heart of woke culture. That decision has cost him support among his typical allies on the Left, who out of fear and intimidation, have willfully bowed the knee before the progressive neo-fascists.

His most recent monologue, however, painted a grim picture of what he considers former President Trump's slow-moving coup that he predicts will come to a head in 2024.

As fantastic as some may find his prognostication, this much was worth noting: Maher pointed to a recent University of Virginia study that showed 52% of Trump-supporting Republicans favor the idea of "red states" seceding from the Union to create a separate country.

But it isn't just MAGA world that is flirting with the idea of a split. The same study found that 41% of Biden voters favor the same idea, and there's little doubt that if Trump was still in office, that number would be far higher.

To be sure, I certainly can't pretend that I've personally never entertained the idea of what it would be like if the progressive Left was forced to live in a country where their policies had free rein. In my mind, the Left would immediately regret their preferences on open borders, defunding police, drug legalization, massive entitlements, over-regulation of business and industry, and a bloated welfare state. Of course, they probably envision something similar, with conservatives coming to lament our heartless, greedy, patriarchal policies.

But besides the self-assurance and ideological validation such thought-experiments bring us, can we all please agree that this idea of a national divorce is a truly terrible idea?

First of all, logistically... it is nonsensical. How exactly do we see this "divide" happening? This isn't like the first time secession was attempted when the ideological divide was reflected geographically. There is no North/South demarcation that makes for a comfortable split. There are passionate progressives in deep red states and there are committed conservatives in the heart of midnight-blue ones. Illinois hasn't voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988, but outside of Chicago, the state is shockingly red. Mississippi hasn't sent electors for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter, but its 2nd Congressional district is a Democrat stronghold.

Take a recently circulated map of how a potential 2-nation realignment could look:

All the Rust-Belt Democrats just have to suck it up or move? And those New Hampshire conservatives are just out of luck. It doesn't make sense and it isn't workable. But that only begins to scratch the surface of how foolish this idea is.

Rich Lowry wrote a soundly reasoned piece about this newfound interest in reviving the glory days of secession and brother-on-brother bloodshed in a recent piece at National Review. In it, he notes that besides the spilling of fraternal blood, any such split is likely to have a list of consequences proponents haven't considered and wouldn't like.

  • The balkanization of the U.S. would thrust China and Russia to the forefront of strategic and military prowess in the world and neither entity that emerged from a U.S. split would be capable of rivaling them.
  • The economic devastation would be immense. The diverse resources, mineral and material wealth across the United States flourishes because our open and free interstate trade. Undermining that with some national break-up would be financially ruinous for all sides.

So yes, of course we're divided, but not irrevocably at odds. In fact, it would be shocking to see how quickly the national temperature would fall if we committed to far fewer anonymous social media exchanges and far more personal interactions with one another. Less escapes with our phones to our back deck, and more front porch sitting and talking with neighbors. Less writing off as "dead to us" those who votes differently than we do, and more of this:

I don't disagree that we are a divided people. What I disagree with is the idea that we are hopelessly divided, or that our civilization is best served by cleaving one half from the other.


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