American Divorce

I was listening to NPR this morning, about the vast increase in violent and illegal gangs militias across the nation, and their common language of “prepare for civil war on November 4.” And I had the thought I’ve had dozens of times in the past twenty years: Why a war? Why not a divorce?

There’s no particular reason why the United States has to take the same form in perpetuity; it’s already changed lots of times already. The geographer Joel Garreau wrote thirty years ago about the “nine nations of America,” from the Ecotopia of the Pacific Northwest to the Caribbean cultures of the Gulf Coast. Let’s acknowledge that we have fundamentally different beliefs about a good life and about our responsibilities to one another, and go our own ways without being beleaguered by the other any longer. Cultures matter, and different cultures would benefit from their own values being more broadly enacted.

Even though there are red swaths in blue states (California’s Central Valley, Oregon’s eastern rangelands) and blue dots in red states (Austin, Atlanta, Raleigh/Durham), we would have to come to terms with geography. It’s not possible to have a political government without adjacency; we can’t be members of a different nation with a different constitution and different laws than our the other people on our street. This isn’t as simple as Ford trucks and Chevy trucks, where I can park whatever I want in my driveway. So I’d propose some version of Washington/Oregon/California out west, and some version of New England and the Mid-Atlantic on the west. That might be two different blue nations, or it might be one, but the big red one in the middle is clearly different. And that’s fine. “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…” We’ve done that before. No need for shooting this time; just call it a day.

And Canada’s not an option. The population of Canada is just shy of 40 million; Blue America, the larger of the two, is about 200 million. It wouldn’t be fair to impose ourselves, like an outsized houseguest who decided to just stay. The Canadians are lovely people and all, but we can’t look to them for rescue. We’re responsible for taking on our own future.

Lots of folks will have to move from one place to another to fit their social and political choices. That’s fine, we can allow two years for migration before we establish border protocols.

I mean, this sounds snide and snarky, but I really do think that it might be time to establish an American Dissolution Commission. Divorce is never pretty, but it’s a lot better than domestic violence. There’s no reason to continue to make each other miserable.