Every now and then an absurd idea enters the discourse and picks up a sort of memetic traction in spite of itself. The latest such idea is that of a “national divorce” in which Blue America and Red America decide they’ve had enough of each other and call it quits. It popped up most recently when U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) broached the idea on Twitter, but the idea has been entertained by liberal figures as well, most recently the comedienne Sarah Silverman.
The impetus for this proposal from conservatives and liberals alike is the recognition that division in our country has gone beyond disagreement and good-natured rivalry to outright hatred. Indeed, far from being united by crisis as we were at crucial points in the past, we are now at a point of schadenfreude—liberals reveling in suffering and disaster when it happens to conservatives, and vice versa.
The American population has always been divided. That is not a particularly new phenomenon, nor is it unique to America. But in the divisions of the past—even the bloody ones—we found a way to move forward together. As deep as the cultural differences between different sections of the country were, we were still running on the same basic cultural and political operating system inherited from our European-Christian founding. That is not the case now.
The American population is not just divided, these divisions form subcultures that are entirely alien to one another. Twenty years ago, when challenged by a national crisis in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans came together in great unity, which was promptly used by our political class to their own cynical ends. Now, once again challenged by a national crisis, the American people are setting themselves against each other and our political class is using this, too, to their own cynical ends.
Instead of taking responsibility for the failure of his administration to prepare for successive waves of the virus, along with the failure of the vaccines to mitigate the spread of COVID on a population level, Joe Biden chose to blame vaccine-refuseniks for the pandemic, brushing aside any legitimate objections or the understandable mistrust that large swaths of America have for the medical-industrial complex. Biden was supposed to be all about compassion, empathy, and understanding.
It is understandable that Americans would be suspicious of the same pharmaceutical companies that ravaged the heartland with opioids and other poisonous drugs, and wary of the same government that refuses to hold those companies accountable. Their general mistrust of a medical system that has failed them for decades and inflicted deep psychological wounds ought to make sense to intelligent people. A little grace would be in order, but it is nowhere to be found. Instead we have an old tyrant ranting on television, blaming these skeptics and demanding they bend the knee or suffer the consequences of financial ruin. It’s no wonder that such behavior would drive people to the extraordinary conclusion that the union must be dissolved.
It’s not just Biden either. We are in a cold war pitting all against the “other.” The corporate media could barely contain their glee at the seasonal COVID surge that washed over the South this past summer, a tone that has since shifted as the winter wave has washed over the North. When comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan contracted COVID, they mocked his treatment regimen of ivermectin, monoclonal antibodies, NAD, and steroids. How disappointed they must have been when the treatments worked!
This hatred is not just an American phenomenon. When Cardinal Raymond Burke was hospitalized and put on a ventilator, the first sentence in the Associated Press story about it noted he was a vaccine skeptic. As Burke was fighting for his life on the ventilator, Pope Francis did not offer well wishes or ask for prayer for the cardinal, but instead commented, “Even in the College of Cardinals, there are some anti-vaxxers, and one of them, poor man, is in hospital with the virus. But life is ironic.” It is a world war.
The example of sociopathy set by the powerful has trickled down to ordinary people. I have friends who were disinvited by their families from Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings for being unvaccinated, or in some cases, fully vaccinated but not boosted. I saw one Twitter post where a woman proudly declared that she has “cut off” her mother from speaking with her or seeing her grandchildren because she did not send photographic evidence of voting for Joe Biden. I saw another in which a son denied his father the proper funeral and burial he wished, choosing instead to have him quietly cremated without so much as an obituary in the local paper. He threw his father’s ashes away in the garbage. All because he voted for Donald Trump.
In Stalin’s Russia, people who denounced their family or friends usually did so for some material benefit or to avoid being imprisoned or executed themselves. Here they do it enthusiastically.
But a word of warning is in order. The kind of national divorce conservatives have in mind is the amicable separation that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin sought when they introduced the term “conscious uncoupling” to the cultural lexicon. A world in which two parties could break up without losing everything. It’s an appealing idea. But when liberals say they’re considering a national divorce, they mean they want to take your kids, half your money (plus monthly payments), have you living in a dismal studio apartment furnished solely with an air mattress and a microwave, all while continuing to nag you relentlessly and blame you for their problems.
Liberalism is fundamentally an ideology of regime change. Those on the Left are never satisfied with dominating the areas they already have, in fact they grow quickly bored with governing them, as can be seen in cities like San Francisco and Seattle. They are always looking beyond the limits of the city to the wide and wild frontier. This is their doctrine of Manifest Predestination—that the arc of history is long but it bends towards a pride flag and BLM sign in front of every house in West Virginia.
The moment that a conservative breakaway nation achieved independence and success there would be plans already underway for color revolutions and occupation by gender diverse commissars. They will never leave us alone. And they will never let us go. Why would they?
Just as Pharaoh resisted the emigration of the Israelites, so would liberals and progressives resist their best milk cows leaving for greener pastures. Conservatives are too valuable to let go. It is our labor that keeps this whole system going. At the moment, at least, we have no Moses, no burning bush, no plagues of frogs and blood and pestilence, and most importantly, we are already living in the promised land. We are not strangers in a strange land as were the Israelites. This is the land of my parents and our grandparents and great-grandparents. If anyone is going to leave, it’s going to be the carpetbaggers. I was born here and, by God’s grace, I’m going to die here.
Furthermore, as a practical matter, this isn’t 1862 with the national military comprised of state militias serving the federal government at the pleasure of their governors, with clearly delineated geographic boundaries of affinity and animosity. At the time of the Civil War there wasn’t much of a standing national army—only 16,000 troops. Lincoln had to call on governors to send him 75,000 volunteers with which to invade the newly independent states in the deep South (this was what prompted Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas to leave the union).
Today, the states don’t have much in the way of loyal organized militias, while the national military is one of the most powerful fighting forces on earth. And while our national divisions still follow the pattern of geography, the divide isn’t between the North and South; it is between urban/inner-suburban America and rural/exurban America. We are a red country with small, densely populated islands of blue, with a handful of each side living behind enemy lines.
We would also do well to remember the consequences of such a gamble. Out of a combined Union and Confederacy population of around 31 million people, there were more than 1.5 million casualties of that terrible war, including some 750,000 deaths. The defeated South was subjected to a brutal program of subjugation and occupation termed “reconstruction.” Between that and the war, it took the South over a century to fully recover—and in some ways it never really did.
No, despite America’s weird obsession with monogamy and divorce bleeding into our political thinking, divorce is not an option and neither is civil war. Perhaps we should just see other people and stay together for the kids?
The solution is not some national divorce or civil war. The solution is for the Right to stop being rank amateurs when it comes to politics and governance. Purge the grifters and incompetents. Bring back the old sharks and have them train a new generation in the art of election warfare. And once in power, actually use that power to purge or destroy the institutions responsible for brainwashing so many of our countrymen. The Right has to articulate and act on a positive vision for America and break out of this learned helplessness that we find ourselves in as we point and object while the other side steadily achieves their goals. We have to learn from the Left in order to defeat it.
That doesn’t mean copying their framing, narrative, or tactics, but understanding their basic will to power and strategy and adapting our approach to effectively combat it. America lost Vietnam in large part due to our failure to appreciate the Maoist doctrine of political warfare. We were not fighting the same war the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese were fighting. We see echoes of that playbook again, but this time in our own country.
We could survive losing Vietnam, we cannot survive losing America. No surrender, no retreat, no compromise. This ends in complete victory for them or us. The sooner that the entire right wing of American politics realizes that, the better the odds are that the victory will be ours.