by Michael Rectenwald
© Getty Images / Moussa81
The US is so
between red &
that some want
it to split
While my country's currently the Dis-United States of America,
calls for it to be broken up into,
...are so radical that
it's difficult to see how it could be implemented.
The US is so bitterly divided that some wonks are calling for a
formal split - either into an arrangement giving states more
autonomy to govern themselves, or a two-nation solution.
Neither will prevail
because the pain of remaining 'together' is still insufficient.
In the latest issue of its publication The American Mind, the
Claremont Institute published a series of articles entitled 'A House
Divided' - a conversation the conservative think tank says is taking
place in private among Americans on both sides of the political
Matthew J. Peterson
argues in the introduction that a discussion of possible remedies
needs to come into the public light so the nation can avoid,
"serious and sudden
shocks to our political and cultural life."
What remedies, you ask?
The possibility and
desirability of parting ways...
The division in the US
seems to have reached an insurmountable impasse.
America is divided -
culturally, economically, and politically - into two separate
tribes. Descriptions of a rankled, bitterly alienated nation are by
now a cliché.
According to this view, red America - die-hard
Republicans - consists of,
the mostly rural and
suburban, religious, gun-toting, pro-America tribe.
This tribe takes
pride in America's past and prizes its cultural and traditional
Its members relish
the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights.
They enjoy high
school football and hunting, and proudly display the American
They hate 'socialism'
and 'communism,' and prize individual freedom and the system of
In the context of
the virus, this group embraces
risk and autonomy, and despises the orders of governors and
masking, social distancing, and
Trump's America: the 'deplorables'.
The other tribe, blue America - die-hard Democrats -
urban, secular, sophisticated coastal elite, along with those
who identify with said values and prize the cultural capital
that comes with espousing them.
Many among this tribe
believe America's history is beyond redemption, marked with
stains it nevertheless furiously attempts to expose and then
remove by all means necessary.
It keeps faith with a
technocratic elite and a
society administered by an academic, bureaucratic, and medical
It extols collective
responsibility and despises red-neck individualism.
In the context of
the virus, it welcomes
universal masking, social distancing, and lockdowns.
This is now Biden's
At this point, so the
argument goes, the two tribes have little in common and nothing but
contempt for each other.
The acrimony between
blue and red is so intense and thoroughgoing that
something must be done - or so argue two of the Claremont
A third suggests the
federalism in the Constitution is sufficient to deal with such
But these writers, a
pseudonymous 'Rebecca' and 'Tom Trenchard', suggest the tribal
differences are irreconcilable.
In any case, a second
civil war must be avoided at all costs.
It wouldn't lead to
the reunification of the country, as the first did, but would
bring only needless violence and further enmity...
In 1845, the Tory
statesman and sometime litterateur Benjamin Disraeli
published the novel 'Sibyl,
or The Two Nations', which describes in fictional terms
the great polarity then existing within a newly industrialized
the working classes
on the one hand, and the industrial parvenu and old aristocracy
on the other...
The immiserated state of
the working classes, or the
Condition of England Question
as it was called, was treated by writers of such varying political
John Stuart Mill
novelist and moderate reformer Charles Dickens
feudalist Thomas Carlyle
himself, a conservative...
proffered, depending on the author, included a new noblesse oblige
on the part of the wealthy, extended political reform, and
There are some parallels with our nation today.
In modern America,
'the working classes' aren't all poor, although they have less
Many own, or have
owned, small businesses.
They also work in any
number of jobs.
Yet they are opposed
and silenced by the legacy media and Internet technocracy and
lack the power to resist the national Covid measures likely to
be imposed by the incoming Biden administration.
The 'coastal elites', on the other hand, aren't all rich.
They include students
and former students who've accrued enormous student loan debt,
activists living incommodiously in groups in family or
non-family housing, and the laptop class surviving on piecemeal,
occasional freelance gigs under the Uberization of the
Despite their hatred of the 'coastal elites', the supposed
'country bumpkins' use the technology, the educational systems,
and even the legacy media and social media platforms that treat
their values like so much refuse.
Blue America relies on
the red for 'essential services', including food, housing, industry,
and the market that red America represents.
They also need red
America for propping up their sense of intellectual superiority.
Without the supposed contrast provided by red America, blue
Americans would have to base their self-esteem on actual
accomplishments, which are quite sparse in many cases.
Furthermore, red and blue are not all
strictly middle America or coastal.
Red and blue live
among each other, the former more than a little afraid to voice
their opinions for fear of being mobbed by the latter.
Some blues work as
professors and live in otherwise red college towns.
Reds live in urban
centers too and some are as 'educated' as their blue peers.
So, could the nation
irrevocably split into a red heartland and a blue one?
It's unlikely in my
While the prevailing
portrait of two Americas has some merit, it is a
caricature that fails to account for the degree to which the two
nations intermingle and depend on each other.
Look at the map of how individual counties voted.
While Trump won some
2,500 generally sparsely populated ones, and Biden some 500
largely heavily populated ones, there is no easy divide.
Even within counties,
there are mostly significant minority red or blue factions.
The pain of
separation would be greater than the discomfort of remaining
Thus, these antipathetic
twins will remain locked in a loveless, rancorous, and intolerable
marriage - for the foreseeable future, at least...