“We are divorced because we have hated each other so.”
~ Mary Boykin Chestnut, March 1861, A Diary From Dixie
If you talk with enough Canadians, especially to include Canadians who love their country, you may get the sense of extreme pessimism regarding Canada’s future as a country. Most of the ones I know expect it to break up in their lifetimes into as many as six separate countries, some of which may petition the United States for entry in the Union.
That may or may not happen; I would not, in any case, count Canada out just yet.
If you talk with enough Americans, especially to include those who detest the United States, you will get the sense of extreme optimism regarding what a breakup will look like. Some are extreme to the point of insanity Lefties, who would really like to a) remove the US as a force against “progress” in the world, and b) create their own little socialist workers paradises in the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts – or perhaps New England, plus New York – or out on the left coast or in the Chicago Autonomous Socialist Collective. Absent power, those don’t really bother me that much, frankly. I just don’t see the will or the competence to do much harm there, so long as the country remains one. I’m not too worried, either, over the laughably idiotic crew who expect and even look forward to a replay of 1861-1865, as if there has been no other change in the country in terms of population, industry, penchant for military service, etcetera.
On the other hand, on the right there’s some of that same idiocy, with regard to expecting a replay of 1863, except that this time Pickett’s Charge will work. They look at things like this:
and see how much more of the country is – take your pick – conservative or, at least, illiberal, and do a straight line calculation only slightly less simple minded that harking back to the last civil war.
Forget it. That map is not the United States. This one is much closer:
The error includes missing population density, some kinds of economic clout, and propensity to enlist in the ground-gaining combat arms. On the whole, though, it shows a good deal of the problem.3
The problem? In short, there are no red states; there are no blue states. There are instead, counties and neighborhoods and streets and the couch versus the bedroom after an argument with a spouse or significant other over political matters.
“And so what?” asks the Pollyanna-ish reader. He (or the rarer idiot she) observes, “We split up and then there’s no more reason to fight?”
That’s wrong for several reasons. One is that it is the moderate and right-wing tendency in the red areas that politically constrains the left-wing tendency of the blue. Remove the red from the blue and the real reds of the bluest blue states run amok, with moderates and moderation suppressed.
Think here: Stalin in Birkenstocks, the spirit of Ho Chi Minh coming down from his gas tank in Boston,4 or a Pol Pot cognate with a degree in journalism from Harvard or Yale, rather than École Française d’Électronique et d’Informatique. Remember, too, that Bill Ayers’ Weatherman expected and, I daresay, wanted to kill twenty-five million Americans, one in eight of the population, one in five adults, to create their preferred society.
It should not need to be said, in a world of bright people, but, sadly, we don’t live in that world: I am pretty sure that the same happens in the red states, where the removal of the political Left leaves all kinds of wingnuts, to include of the white-sheeted, pointy-hatted variety, to create or recreate their own particular fantasies, and run roughshod over moderates there.
The second reason is that the history of revolutions is a history of the nuts rising to the top, rather the way feces floats. No, the American so-called Revolution was nothing of the kind. Rather, it was a conservative rebellion and counter-revolution against a Parliament gone expansively grasping, which was unilaterally trying to change the pre-existing deal. After all, other than that we threw off the United Kingdom, what changed? The vote and representative government? No, we had that before the “Revolution.”
“Bu’…bu’….but, Congress? Bill of Rights? Supreme Court?” Yes, those were revolutionary in some ways, but they came after the Revolution was won, when peace and sanity reigned, and thus denied the nuts the chance to rise. “Bu’…bu’…but, we got rid of the King!” Poor George; he takes so much undeserved crap. A good constitutional monarch, “the finest gentleman in England,” pronounced Samuel Johnson, no mean judge of character. He was more than a symbol but also more than a tyrant. In any case, his hand rested upon us not merely lightly, but not really at all.
So, no, no American Revolution, hence no precedent, unique to America, for the nuts not taking over.
The third reason – no, my list is not exhaustive – that no separation is likely to be amicable, is that the red counties, neighborhoods, streets, and couches are not going to go gently into that long Progressive good night. They’re armed and they’ll fight. Similarly for the very blue Mississippi River Valley. They’ve been on the plantation before; they’re not going back without a fight.
Why won’t they just leave? Why should they? And leave for what?
Closely related to the third is a fourth factor, we are tied – at least I am tied – to any number of people in the blue and purple areas by bonds of affection, common outlook, common military service, blood, and the traditional sense of being American, where that has a particular set of meanings and values. I am quite sure that I am not unique. The heirs of Malcolm X, up in Detroit, are not going to sit idly by while the Klan rounds up their cousins. The heirs of Nathan Bedford Forrest, down in the deep south, are not going to ignore it when the first Gulag gets set up outside Chicago for unreconstructed Catholics and Baptists. Each is going to help their cousins and co-religionists, as each should. Blood will flow in rivers. Hatreds will grow like weeds in the sun. Atrocity and counter-atrocity and counter-counter-atrocity will… you get the idea.
The short version is: Forget 1861-1865. Forget Sumter and Pickett’s Charge and even Antietam and Cold Harbor. Think, for a United States that begins to break up, of Beirut in the 80s, except written across a continent, written large, and written in blood.
“In all, nineteen people, including refugees, the Dutch banker with his huge Doberman, in the apartment below me, and the beautiful blonde upstairs, whose name I never did know, died a Beirut death, which is the most absurd and scandalous death possible: death for no reason.”
~ Thomas Friedman, From Beirut to Jerusalem
3 And what it misses can mostly be fixed with a few observations. 1) The blue sections tend to be very dense in terms of population; those are mostly cities and dense suburbs you’re seeing there. 2) The blue parts tend to be coequal with finance, education, and high tech – though that’s not absolute – while much or perhaps even most heavy industry has moved to red to escape unions and the Democratic Party. 3) Liberal myths aside, no, there are not that many blacks in the bleeding edge of the armed forces. Hispanics? Fair representation, yes, because “it’s the manly thing to do.” Blacks? There are some, of course, but their parents tend to push them into military fields that are marketable on the outside. The blacks in the combat arms tend to be overwhelmingly politically conservative, too. When you see red, think of people willing to bleed, and trained and willing to make their enemies bleed, too. Also remember that the supermarket is not, in fact, the source of food.
4 Ho Chi Minh? Gas Tank? https://www.asergeev.com/pictures/archives/2005/433/jpeg/26.jpg That’s him in blue. It’s been redone on a new gas tank, too, with a slightly changed nose. The artist, a pacifist nun, always denied it was Ho. I don’t think anybody ever really believed her. Ah, what the hell; it’s not like a younger Ho wasn’t a baker at Boston’s Parker House, after all. Maybe that’s what Sister Corita wanted to memorialize. Yeah, and I have this bridge for sale. Cheap.
Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.
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