It’s past time to consider our nation becoming two countries. In my view, this is inevitable and we can do it peacefully, through negotiations, or it is destined to happen violently and with a great likelihood that there won’t be much left to pick up.
The truth of the matter is that individual freedom and free market capitalism that are close to the heart of the right are incompatible with a leviathan central government, high taxes and a cradle-to-grave social safety net that the left embraces. There is no reconciling the two forces.
To the right, freedom controlled and encroached upon is not freedom, and big government bureaucracy never ceases to devour. It has no end. The left cannot abide the “lack of fairness” in a system that by definition will create losers. They are married to a notion that has nothing to do with an equal playing field, but instead demands equal results. This goal can never be met — save by impoverishing all of us (excepting, of course, those in government) — but means an ever increasing “take,” a grab from those of us who have more than whatever progressive leaders deem is fair.
It will be an odd map, and there is doubtless much to negotiate. However, the beginning outlines are not difficult to discern. For instance, the coastal areas of the 3 Pacific states plus all of New England (excepting possibly New Hampshire), coastal New York, Maryland and Minnesota are obvious choices for a new progressive nation. I imagine eastern Pennsylvania, and the northern halves of Ohio and Illinois would also align with the progressives.
I have no idea how to divide Wisconsin or Michigan, but the southern states, most of the west, upstate New York, west Pennsylvania, the southern halves of Ohio and Illinois and eastern Oregon, Washington and California bring into focus the outline of a new country based on individual and economic freedom. Florida will have to be negotiated. For myself, I’d readily cede the southeast portion of the state to the progressives.
Plenty of people would scream, and many of them would move. So what? Are bombs and bullets better? Besides, at last we would have living laboratories for the two competing philosophies. And we could always leave room for a reconciliation at some future date.
At this point the only thing that has kept us from killing one another is a measure of affluence that keeps the middle class too well fed to take to the streets. Put plainly, both sides hate one another, not individually, but certainly and absolutely in the abstract. How long will that hatred be kept in abeyance? What might cause the dam of apathy to collapse?
Here’s a prediction: The left will lose the next presidential election, and when they do the mask of civility will not so much slip as fall to the floor and disintegrate. After the most left wing president in the country’s history, progressives will find it impossible to tolerate government controlled by conservatives in the legislative and executive branches with key Supreme Court seats coming available. Everything they’ve gained in the last 8 years will be diminished or lost. There will be violence that will culminate in an attempt on the life (perhaps successful) of whoever is president. The act is more likely to be carried out by a lone fanatic or small group of zealots, but it will occur because of the bile and hatred stirred and fomented by leaders of the progressive movement.
If this happens, is it difficult to imagine a violent reaction of fervent members of the right? That notion, by the way, is the only thing standing now between violent confrontation of left and right…As of yet, the right has not in living memory been willing to erupt in street violence. The left does so repeatedly, be it anarchists and Marxists in Seattle or inner city blacks in Baltimore or the Occupy movement nationwide. Would a murdered president put us in the street?
Nearly all conservatives have guns in their closets. Were violence to explode, on which side would the police and armed services come down? Where might the killing start? How would it end and who would end it? These are terrible questions to ponder.
The veneer of civility is much thinner than most contemplate or acknowledge. And when it falls it does so dramatically and at once. (See Eastern Europe after the collapse of communism.) We are nearer this point than we have been since 1861. Let’s split while we can still reach for the levers of division with a calm hand.