Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is calling for a “national divorce” between red and blue states in thrice-repeated statements. Her appeal for an “amicable separation” has provoked much discussion about the sorry state of the national union.
It sounds very simple. There truly are irreconcilable differences between liberals and conservatives on issues like procured abortion, gun control, the LGBTQ+ agenda, illegal immigration and other hot-button issues. Indeed, Americans cannot even agree on gas stoves, pronouns and bathrooms. Rather than engage in a civil war over who is right or wrong, the Georgia firebrand congresswoman is suggesting that states simply walk away with no hard feelings.
The recently divorced Rep. Greene even insists that the divorce is not about “ending our union”—which is what any divorce does. Her inflammatory rhetoric only adds to the confusion. On one hand, she calls for separation that looks like secession in all but name. On the other hand, she claims the separated parties can cooperate on more technical matters as long as each meets the other on its side of the red/blue divide.
Public Sentiment for Secession
The secession option is apparently popular. A July 2021 poll by The Hill reports increasing support for secession among every partisan group. Some 37% of all polled indicated a “willingness to secede.” Sixty-six percent of Republicans in the South favor the proposition.
The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics conducted a similar survey in 2021. It found sentiments for separation on both the left and the right. Some 52% of Trump voters and 41% of Biden voters in the 2020 election answered that they “somewhat agreed” when asked if it is time to divide the country in two.
They find the union to be increasingly unbearable. Rep. Greene rightly complains that many Americans are “sick and tired and fed up of being bullied by the left, abused by the left, and disrespected by the left.” However, a national no-fault divorce settlement fails to consider three important factors.
Leaving Problems Behind
The first factor is that such walk-away solutions do not solve the problems but merely try to escape from them. Moreover, the problems only tend to accumulate.
Columnist David Brooks cites philosopher George Santayana (1862—1952) as saying that “Americans don’t solve problems, they leave them behind. If there’s an idea they don’t like, they don’t bother refuting it, they simply talk about something else, and the original idea dies from inattention. If a situation bothers them, they leave it in the past.”
Rep. Greene’s call for a national divorce has something of this walking away from problems in the hope they might disappear. It holds the optimistic promise of all divorces that the next place or partner will have no problems. Like a Hollywood happy ending, everything will come out well on the other side of the divide.
Things seldom turn out as they do in the movies. Indeed, the relentless forces driving the culture on both sides of the divide no longer allow this walk-away. The one thing that characterizes the culture war is a stubborn refusal of ideas to die or be left in the past. These aggressive cultural forces will continue to exist and act no matter where one lives. The most likely result of the national divorce will be another national divorce down the line.
The second problem is inextricability. The simple division of America into red and blue states will not resolve the irreconcilable differences. Partisans of both red and blue positions are inextricably intermingled. While Texas went red in the last presidential election, its major cities are massive blue enclaves. The existence of contrary yet significant minorities in all states will continue and lead to further break-ups on an increasingly local scale. The divorce might later expand to include red and blue counties seceding from their state, cities seceding from their county, neighborhoods from their city, or even households from their neighborhood.
Like the Gospel parable of the wheat and the weeds mixed in the field, red and blue areas are found together everywhere. A national divorce would not resolve the plight of the purple patches that populate the map. Not following Our Lord’s wise Gospel counsel will result in uprooting everything, bringing all to ruin.
This divorce could represent not a split into two near-equal parts but a splintering of America into thousands of independent fragments, each walking away and deciding how it wants to live outside the union.
This disunion guts the nation’s security, making America vulnerable and inviting the attack of its enemies.
Return to Order
However, the most important reason secession is not the answer is that it fails to address the moral cause of this crisis. America is divided because it has adopted immoral, permissive and sinful ways that have destructive consequences everywhere.
The secessionists treat such disputes as if they are mere differences of opinion. Some think it proper to do whatever they want, even if it destroys the nation’s moral fiber and makes it an unbearable place to live. Others choose to live more ordered lives that lead to greater personal happiness.
The selfish attitude of secession denies life’s moral dimension. There is no desire for what is best for the nation but only that which facilitates one’s self-interest. There is no concern about helping those Americans who have taken the wrong way. Indeed Rep. Greene believes the left should “live in their own filth they have created without us, then they will be able to realize the error of their ways.”
The solution is to look at the causes of decadence infecting both sides of the divide in different intensities and speeds. Dividing the nation between partisans of two stages of decadence will do no good since the decay processes will continue in all and will only worsen with time.
The causes of decadence are simple and recognizable. They are found everywhere. Americans are divided and decadent because they have lost the moral compass that defines right and wrong. Families are broken because the passions are unbridled in a hypersexualized society. People find no meaning and purpose in life because they have lost their Faith and spurned God’s law.
Secession solves none of these problems. It will only accelerate the processes of moral decadence and national destruction. Only the arduous fight for a return to God and a moral order will provide the way out of the present crisis for all Americans.
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