Late last month, historian and novelist H.W. Crocker III asserted in the title of an article he wrote for the American Spectator, “America’s Next Civil War Will Be Worse Than Our Last.” And the reason for this ill-fate is the fact that Americans are so deeply divided, having even less in common now than Billy Yank and Johnny Reb had in the 1860s.
To illustrate his point, the author began his article with an anecdote of Union Captain George Custer standing as best man in the wedding of his friend, Confederate Captain John Lea. Though there were many issues at contention during the conflict, the two didn’t consider it abhorrent to pause from hostilities to observe a traditional rite of passage. Crocker even quoted Lincoln saying that both sides still “read the same Bible and pray[ed] to the same God.” Furthermore, speaking on that war between these two cultures, Crocker wrote, “In the end, the war was fought over a single legal issue: whether the states that had freely ratified the Constitution to form the Union could freely leave the Union if they felt it no longer served their interests.”
Though the issues that defined that 19th century conflict may have sprung from one source, as Crocker observed, the battle lines of the hearts of men who populate the Union of modernity are infinitely more multifaceted, essential, and stark:
Today, however, our divisions are so deep and fundamental that Americans cannot even agree on what marriage is or what a man or a woman is (which is pretty darn fundamental). The lunatic self-righteousness of the Left (and yes, I’m afraid one must point fingers here), where disagreement is bigotry to be prohibited by law or even condemned and prosecuted as treason, is a consuming, destructive fire that will not be easily quenched, and cannot be reached by cool waters of rational argument.
Author Colin Woodard goes even further to declare that the United States was never really “United” in the first place, categorizing the Union into several major cultural regions (i.e. Yankeedom, Midlands, Deep South, etc.) that compete to form a winning coalition and dominate with their vision for national policy. In the reviewing article for Big Think, it asks, “Should we return America to concern for the common good? Or return to rugged individualism? Are we one nation under the one true God? Or is there strength in our diversity? Different regions suggest different answers, and view each as the ‘true’ American values system.” Because of these questions and their corresponding different answers from competing regions, countries in all but name and empowerment, the author suggests that the Union of American States is progressively in danger.
Many Americans tend to agree with this assessment. Last week, the Texian Partisan published an article about the Rasmussen poll that revealed 31% of likely U.S. voters believe “the United States will experience a second civil war sometime in the next five years, with 11% who say it’s Very Likely.” This is of course backed by the experiential, the pervasive examples of unrest that are becoming all too common. Consider the ANTIFA/Police clashes in Washington, the same ones that failed to receive proportional condemnation in the biased press; or think about the recent cases of political figures being mobbed and even assaulted in public spaces; or even ponder the cases of deadly violence, such as when a Bernie Sanders supporter shot-up a congressional GOP softball game or when a white nationalist killed a left-wing protestor with his car. Do these not-so-isolated events seem outliers or an emerging trend of today’s political actors playing a most-dangerous game? And if the war between the states took the lives of over 600,000 Americans, how much more will the next one cost? To quote Fred Thompson’s line from Hunt for Red October, “This business will get out of control! It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it!
So, is that it? Is it our destiny to kill each other over our political convictions, or is there another thing that can be done to avert all-out war or the abject subjugation of one side? There is, and it’s called the tenth amendment right to resign the Union. Does that sound too radical or is it just the kind of out-of-the-box thinking we need to avoid the conflict that we all have an inkling is on the way. Even the Big Think article, which erroneously claimed that secession was illegal, suggested that it might be a “desirable solution” to the violent alternative. However, it would require people to give up on 100+ years of propaganda-reinforced thinking that the Union is indivisible, and it would also take people accepting that their neighbor likely will make different political choices for themselves. For instance, if Texas were to successfully vote to leave the Union (as polling and other indicators have shown would likely be the case if given an opportunity), Texas would have a very different political climate from that of an independent California; such as being pro-life, religion and business friendly, anti-illegal immigration, and pro- gun rights.
So, can we live with that? Can we focus on our own lives, making them the best that our talents and philosophies will allow, leaving others to run their own lives and societies, or is it so vital that we believe the exact same thing that we are willing to kill as many people as it takes to enforce such a standard? I really hope we choose the former. But if not secession, what? Clearly, federalism as intended has failed, and hail Mary attempts to hold together this deeply dysfunctional Union (i.e. Convention of States) entirely miss the point by trying to again impose one solution on all.
The only hope for amity in America is for states to be free to peacefully withdraw from the Union if they believe it no longer works for their best interests; we’d better come to terms with that, and soon. Though some may argue that the first civil war was caused by states exercising their right to secede the Union, a second one could occur because we failed to consider secession as an option.