Maybe the United States is heading for a "divorce"

We recently talked about South Carolina and their ongoing discussions of a “trigger” system which might allow them to declare that they were seceding from the country if Second Amendment rights are infringed. While this is still little more than a thought experiment in my opinion, I offered the following thoughts on how the country is looking more and more like a nation divided, possibly beyond the point of reconciliation.

This is almost entirely a cultural divide. You can easily pick out the issues of the day and see how the various state legislatures have divided into two camps, lined up across from each other in a (thus far) strictly verbal war. Gun rights, abortion, illegal immigration and border security… the list goes on. So what happens if the differences are so intractable that no common ground seems possible and the losers of a series of increasingly closely divided elections simply refuse to continue being governed by the winners?

Having repeated myself there, I would point you to a bit more “abrupt” opinion piece by Jesse Kelly at the Federalist. In it, Kelly chooses to avoid messy descriptions like “civil war” or secession, preferring instead to describe a nation (the United States) which is more like a married couple which has simply drifted apart to the point of having irreconcilable differences and is now looking at the possibility of divorce. His humorous, but still disturbing opening line sets the tone for the piece. “Divorce is hard, but it’s easier than cutting the brake lines on your wife’s car.

Well, I suppose that’s true, but let’s hope we’re not at the point of cutting anyone’s brake lines just yet.

We cannot come together, but we do not have to live like this. The history of the world is nations breaking up and redrawing their borders. If we want to avoid this political divide turning into a deadly one, we should do likewise. Stop clinging to the past and acknowledge where we are as a country, not where you want us to be, not where things were when your grandpa was storming the beaches of Normandy. Where we truly are.

We are a nation hopelessly divided. We are more divided now than we have ever been in our history. And before you start screaming at me about the Civil War, keep in mind that bloody conflict was fought over one major issue. In those days, take ten families from New York and ten families from Alabama, put them all in a room, and you’d find they mostly had the same values (and bad accents).

Now, fast-forward to today and do that same thing. Those families have virtually nothing in common. We as a nation have polarized and separated from each other.

So how would a “divorce” between red and blue America work out? Jesse provides a quickly sketched out map showing the division of property in his post and a tweet linking to it.

Here’s a larger version of it (click on image for full-size picture) which I marked up a bit further to give the lines additional definition. Kelly suggests two new countries (somehow split up without needing to go to war, one presumes). In this vision, we are broken up into the Federalist States of America (FSA) and the People’s Republic of Soyland (PRS).

Again, while Kelly seems to be taking this a bit more seriously, I can’t see it happening. But that doesn’t mean we can’t bat the idea around so we have an emergency “Go To” plan if worse comes to worst.

Here’s my major issue with this idea. Even if you accept the premise that we’re hopelessly divided along cultural and ideological lines, there is no process in place which would allow for a negotiated settlement or “divorce” here. Somebody would have to declare they were seceding from the existing country. And how do you manage that without a war? Even if you could find the votes in Congress to attempt it, what sort of process would allow you to generate a “So Long and Thanks For All The Fish” bill intended to dissolve the very government which is voting on it?

Also, even if we posit a situation where this could be done, wouldn’t there be a mass exodus taking place as soon as it happened? All of us with more conservative leanings who are left behind in blue states would need to pack up the house and move to the FSA or be left essentially in enemy territory. Same thing for the liberals currently living on FSA lands. And much the same as what happened in the actual civil war, many families would be ripped apart. How many stories have we heard about suggested ways of dealing with your crazy liberal/conservative uncle or aunt at Thanksgiving dinner? Now, rather than just going back to their own homes after dessert has been served, they would be living in another country.

And what of the division of property which goes along with every divorce? I’m not talking about who gets which parcels of land here, but rather the “belongings” which need to be split up. The USA has the biggest, baddest military in the world. Does one of the two new countries get to keep that military structure entirely or do we split them up? Who absorbs the $20T in debt that the USA has racked up? (Our creditors will want to know the answer to that one.) What of our embassies around the world? Do they all get chopped in half with tape down the middle of the floor?

And finally, not to put too fine a point on things, that map is going to put most of the economic power of the country in PRS territory. The FSA would be impoverished by comparison. Sorry, Jesse, but this thought experiment, while entertaining, has a lot of bugs to be worked out before you start drawing up the divorce papers.