Against ‘National Divorce’

Bad Idea or Worst Idea?


The idea of a ‘national divorce’ – a parting of ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states into separate national agglomerations – has been floating around the conservative ecosystem recently, especially on the fringes of the too-online far-right. This idea has bubbled up several times over the past decades on both sides of the aisle – usually when a preferred presidential candidate loses an election. From the 2004 election spawning ‘Jesusland’ versus ‘United States of Canada’ maps, to the radical right-wingers pushing secession after the re-election of Barack Obama in 2012, to the talk of ‘Calexit’ just days after the shock 2016 victory of Donald Trump, secession memes have been rife in 21st century American politics.

As our culture becomes more intensely partisan, partially driven by the virality of social media, this old idea has recurred more frequently than before, each time with a greater animosity and a broader appeal. Now, these online fantasies have found their way into Congress, with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene espousing the idea repeatedly. For Greene, a Republican from Georgia, ‘national divorce’ is a serious potential solution to “the sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s [sic] traitorous America Last policies,” among other ‘evils’. That a sitting Congresswoman said this publicly is egregious, but it lends an air of seriousness to the idea that it had not yet obtained. In that sense, it must be taken seriously.

So, is ‘national divorce’ a reasonable idea? Perhaps <gasp> even a good one?

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The Perils of Political ‘Unity’

The idea of ‘unity’ in politics is a utopian pipedream, and not something which we should strive for.

It’s been less than a week of the new Biden administration and already we have a new political buzzword that is being used by both right and left: unity. In his inaugural address (and much of his messaging post-election), President Biden stressed his intention to unite the country behind his administration, saying phrases including: “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.”; “To overcome these challenges – to restore the soul and to secure the future of America – requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity.”; “With unity we can do great things. Important things.”; “History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity.”; “For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.” I could go on, as the speech was chock-full of messaging around the theme of unity. Republicans have seized on this theme and have made a stink about how the Biden administration’s early actions have been the opposite of uniting, instead delivering wins for Democrats and progressives on many contentious issues. Both parties are wrong in their focus on political unity and what that means.

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