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In Defense of a Soft National Divorce

The point of the matter is that “national divorce” is already happening.

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s recent impassioned plea for a “national divorce” has been pooh-poohed by respectable conservatives, but the firebrand congresswoman from Georgia has drawn upon a store of latent wisdom.

As the great Angelo Codevilla once noted: “In short, America has changed so much from what it had been just a half century ago that any restoration implies some sort of mutual alienation, separation, or secession...” A sober view of “national divorce” envisions not a “Red Confederacy” rising up and waging a second civil war, but a de facto league of Red states under Trumpian governors defying the federal government in such a way as to allow “Red America” to live unmolested by “Blue America”. Such a separation is equal parts possible and desirable.

This “soft” national divorce would be a bloodless affair consisting of a legal-political coup d’état at the state level. Republican governors and legislatures that have already transferred their allegiance from “the (dis)United States of America” to “Red America” would begin to act accordingly, detaching themselves from the overall federal system by ruling "as if" (as if they had no higher authority to answer to other than themselves).

The American revolutionaries and the Confederates successfully carried out their coup d’etats by simply operating “as if” they no longer answered to the Crown and their representatives (in the former case) and the federal government (in the latter). It was only the reactions of the imperial and federal authorities that transformed these successful coup d’états into contentious civil wars. This frightening deterioration from coup d’état to civil war is one of the largest scarecrows put up by the critics of “national divorce” to scare off goodhearted conservatives from embracing that notion (i.e., “the left won’t just let us leave!”).

These critics confuse what the left wants and what the left can do. The federal government during the mid-1800s had (a) the will and (b) the means to credibly confront any "rebellion" by its constituent parts. Today's federal government has the former but not the latter. Leftists do wish to hold “Red Americans” in perpetual thralldom, but only on the very cheap and without much hubbub. Impotent rage (and empty threats) along with much weeping and gnashing of teeth will be the only response the left will have to a "soft" national divorce.

The idea that the federal government would dare to arrest a Texian governor for closing the border, or a Floridian governor for refusing to enforce certain federal gun control laws, is therefore beyond ludicrous. The only recourse left to the federal government then will be the federal courts (including the Supreme Court). In such cases, it would do well to remember that the judiciary, in and of itself, has no actual power to enforce its rulings but rather relies upon its moral weight as a legitimate legal arbiter to persuade executives to abide by its decisions.

As President Jackson showed early on, without the tacit approval of such executives, the rulings of all courts are reduced to nothing more than the musings of a group of legal aficionados (a court can only make a state do what a state already is prepared to do). That being said, the left will attempt to force the hands of rogue Red states by counting upon the latter’s recognition of the right of federal courts to interfere with their internal affairs.

This will be the inflection point where such Red states will either tumble disastrously backwards into the grasps of “Blue America” or finally reach escape velocity by ignoring (or “nullifying”) federal court rulings, thus shielding certain parts (if not all) of their internal affairs from the reach of the federal leviathan, and by extension from the reach of “Blue America”. This final step over the threshold will require as much psychological fortitude as political fortitude, because it will require a public admission of what conservatives already know to be true: “Red America” no longer consents to being ruled by “Blue America”.

Truth be told, it is only the psychological weakness and political naivety of conservatives that stops them from behaving in this manner today. After all, the operating principle of modern American politics is “stop me if you can”.

For a considerable amount of time, blue states have already been nullifying federal drug laws through marijuana legalization, as well as federal immigration laws via their explicit support for “sanctuary cities”. Moreover, for the last two years the federal government has intentionally circumvented its very own laws in order to carry out its political design of flooding Republican border states with its third-world clients. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

The point of the matter is that “national divorce” is already happening. “Blue America” is consistently getting bluer while “Red America” is getting redder. The only remaining question is whether “Red America” will continue to allow “Blue America” to use the federal government (and their corporate proxies) to interfere in their affairs.


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