Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Americanism Failed When America Failed To Integrate Its Public Schools

theconversation  |   Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, wants a “national divorce.” In her view, another Civil War is inevitable unless red and blue states form separate countries.

She has plenty of company on the right, where a host of others – 52% of Trump voters, Donald Trump himself and prominent Texas Republicans – have endorsed various forms of secession in recent years. Roughly 40% of Biden voters have fantasized about a national divorce as well. Some on the left urge a domestic breakup so that a new egalitarian nation might be, as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, “brought forth on this continent.”

The American Civil War was a national trauma precipitated by the secession of 11 Southern states over slavery. It is, therefore, understandable that many pundits and commentators would weigh in about the legality, feasibility and wisdom of secessionwhen others clamor for divorce.

But all this secession talk misses a key point that every troubled couple knows. Just as there are ways to withdraw from a marriage before any formal divorce, there are also ways to exit a nation before officially seceding.

I have studied secession for 20 years, and I think that it is not just a “what if?” scenario anymore. In “We Are Not One People: Secession and Separatism in American Politics Since 1776,” my co-author and I go beyond narrow discussions of secession and the Civil War to frame secession as an extreme end point on a scale that includes various acts of exit that have already taken place across the U.S.

Separatist ideas come from the Left, too.

Cal-exit,” a plan for California to leave the union after 2016, was the most acute recent attempt at secession.

And separatist acts have reshaped life and law in many states. Since 2012, 21 states have legalized marijuana, which is federally illegal. Sanctuary cities and states have emerged since 2016 to combat aggressive federal immigration laws and policies. Some prosecutors and judges refuse to prosecute women and medical providers for newly illegal abortions in some states.

Estimates vary, but some Americans are increasingly opting out of hypermodern, hyperpolarized life entirely. “Intentional communities,” rural, sustainable, cooperative communes like East Wind in the Ozarks, are, as The New York Times reported in 2020, proliferating “across the country.”

In many ways, America is already broken apart. When secession is portrayed in its strictest sense, as a group of people declaring independence and taking a portion of a nation as they depart, the discussion is myopic, and current acts of exit hide in plain sight. When it comes to secession, the question is not just “What if?” but “What now?”

 

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