The conversation around a national divorce appears to be making the rounds again. Conservatives in my Twitter feed, understandably frustrated by our government’s failure to live up to the ideals of America’s founding documents, are advocating for a civil, nationwide split along political lines.
And while there comes a point when it’s time for the doctor to ask if the limb needs to be amputated, latching onto a notion like national divorce denies the most basic truths of human psychology and sociology.
In their feelings of hopelessness and despair, such a plan undoubtedly affords Americans a sense of purpose and power. But putting aside the impractical and unworkable realities of this alleged solution, our very nature as tribal beings dispels any possibility that dividing our nation would generate unity.
The red-blue chasm is far from the lowest denominator of cultural and political differences, thus there is no reason to believe that new societies won’t create the same destructive and polarizing realities we currently face. It is only natural for us to establish in-groups and out-groups.
Secondly, accepting the idea of tearing apart our country based on political alliances demonstrates a lack of tolerance for living with people who don’t share the same views. In such a country, who needs a voting system?
Democracy is based on the principle of diverse perspectives, and for conservatives to be willing to abandon the American project begs the question of how patriotic and dedicated to our constitution they were from the outset. What makes us uniquely American is that we are a melting pot. We may be wedded to certain values, but we come from different places and hold different views. And it is these differences that the constitution is meant to preserve.
America is not merely a set of geographical boundaries, but an aspirational principle emerging in the body politic as a practical process of experimentation and refinement. It is always in flux, and its potential for embodiment is never stifled by completion. This upward trajectory, ever-perfecting, depends on dialectic as its fuel source. And dialectic is destroyed by divorce, as is the vision that keeps the quest of animating lofty principles of our founding constitution alive.
What we need is a fair voting system and an overhaul of our corrupt government agencies, not to be distracted with a half-baked, out of touch, and impractical prescription for sameness that is rooted in self-righteousness.
If we want to save the country, there has to be something more that we are saving than our own interests. Otherwise, we become defeatist and manifest the worst instincts of the Left. Nothing could be more stagnant in terms of creativity, development, and potential growth than identity without difference. Freedom requires diversity of thought in order to be protected.
At the end of the day, conservatives screaming for national divorce are being nihilistic. The Left is the establishment. It wields political and cultural power as the body from which the limb would be severed. If we want to jump ship, we cannot do it by severing ourselves, for dismembered limbs atrophy. And a limb without a body cannot survive.
Like Victor Davis Hanson says, conservatives must stop playing by the Marcus of Queensbury rules. Leaving does not mean winning, so we can only fight from within.
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