Not since the Civil War has the United States been so divided. This is most apparent in politics but also in our culture, religion, economics, morality, mentality and ways of life. It erupts in school board meetings in the Midwest no less than in Congress. It sometimes leads to violence, as it did during the BLM and Antifa riots of 2020.
Fearful of the very real threats coming from both the mob and the Biden administration, many Americans are quite literally looking for a way out. A growing number think that the solution for our political differences in the United States is to become, well, less united.
Prominent conservatives are toying with the idea. In the voter fraud controversy following the 2020 election, the late Rush Limbaugh told his 20 million listeners that the country is “trending toward secession.”
“It can’t go on this way,” he continued. “There cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs. We can’t be in this dire a conflict without something giving somewhere along the way.”1 After receiving intense pushback, he stepped back and insisted that he “never” advocated secession and that the left twisted his words.2
Mississippi state representative Price Wallace tweeted that his state needs “to succeed [sic] from the union and form our own country,” although he quickly deleted the tweet and apologized. Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie asked the question on Twitter, “Has secession ever succeeded?” and then gave the example of West Virginia.3
Responding to a question about the Texas secession movement at Texas A&M University, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz answered: “If the Democrats end the filibuster, if they fundamentally destroy the country, if they pack the Supreme Court, if they make D.C. a state, if they federalize elections, if they massively expand voter fraud, there may come a point where it’s hopeless.” He added, however, that the country isn’t at that point yet. “I think Texas has a responsibility to the country, and I’m not ready to give up on America. I love this country.”4
After the Supreme Court declined to take up the lawsuit by Texas and seventeen other states on alleged voter fraud during the 2020 election, then-chairman of the Texas GOP Allen West protested the decision in a statement, saying that “perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution.”5
Support for secession in the general public is higher than ever. Just months before the 2020 presidential election, a Hofstra University poll revealed that 40% of Americans would favor secession depending on the election results. A YouGov poll in June 2021 showed that 37% of Americans, and 66% of Republicans from Southern states, favored secession.6Last September, a University of Virginia poll showed that 51% of Trump voters and 41% of Biden voters favored blue and red states seceding from the Union to form their own countries.7Although Republicans were more likely to favor secession, it is a bipartisan movement. Large percentages of Democrat voters also supported it, especially when Donald Trump was in office.
It’s one thing to answer a poll question and quite another to carry out an act of secession. For now, secession is unlikely to garner majority support even in the reddest or bluest states. Nevertheless, that nearly half of Americans at least say they favor secession for their state from the Union is deeply troubling.
Seven Reasons Why Breaking up the United States Is NOT a Solution
Secession may seem like an easy solution to escape the crisis. With their huge populations and economies, red states like Texas or Florida just need to cut the federal government loose and go their own way.
Such thinking is dangerously naïve. Secession, if carried out, would be the biggest disaster in the history of the United States and a victory for the cause of progressive “wokeism.” It would be a massive blow to the remnants of Western Christian civilization in the world. The following are seven reasons why secession is not the solution.
#1—Very Few Countries Have Broken Apart Without Massive Bloodshed
The twentieth century has seen many empires and large countries break up due to wars and revolutions. In almost every case, the breakup was followed by terrible civil wars and massive loss of life.
Following their defeat in World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire all broke apart along ethnic and political lines. Their successor states in Europe and the Middle East suffered civil wars, ethnic cleansing and communist revolutions. In the book The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End, historian Robert Gerwarth calculated that between 1918 and 1924, these conflicts took more than 4 million lives over and above the 9 million killed in the Great War itself.8
The consequences of these conflicts continue to affect the world today.
In 1947, the British government—then in the process of dissolving its Empire—divided India along religious lines into the modern countries of India, Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Massive sectarian violence followed, killing as many as 2 million people and creating 20 million refugees. In Africa, the breakup of the European colonial empires in the fifties and sixties created a vacuum that led to tribal warfare that killed tens of millions of Africans. In Europe, the breakup of Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001 led to terrible ethnic conflict and atrocities that killed an estimated 140,000 people.
#2—We Already Tried to Break up the United States, and It Didn’t Go Well
Breaking up a country is not a foreign concept to the United States. We did it in 1861 when the Southern states seceded from the Union. It didn’t go well. The five years of the Civil War left 750,000 dead and unresolved social divisions that linger to this day.
What is striking about the Southern secessionists of 1860 is how certain they were that it would succeed with minimal or no conflict. Optimistic Southerners believed that “King Cotton” made the Northern states and Europe so dependent on the South that war was impossible. “Without firing a gun, without drawing a sword, should they make war on us, we could bring the whole world to our feet,” said South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond in a speech in 1858. “No, you dare not to make war on cotton. No power on the earth dares to make war upon it. Cotton is king.” European powers would certainly intervene for the Confederacy, so the theory went. Southern contempt for the supposed lack of fighting prowess among Northern men led them to believe that even if war came, it wouldn’t last beyond a few decisive battles.
Today, it is easy to laugh at such blind and foolish optimism. Yet many would-be secessionists make similar boasts today. They make secession seem as easy as closing a bank account. They ignore the hard, cold reality that any act of secession would necessarily lead to war, just as it did in 1861.
#3—The British Had a Terrible Time Getting Brexit Done. The U.S. Would be far Worse
The United States of 2022 is far more interconnected and interdependent than in 1860. Interstate commerce is extensive. No state produces everything necessary to sustain itself. The inevitable disputes over interstate ownership of property, interstate finance, trade, ownership of federal lands, compensation and many others would be unresolvable.
Brexit is just a glimpse into what a breakup would entail. The British were correct to leave the European Union. However, after fifty years inside the European Union, they had a tough time disentangling themselves from the Common Market, customs union and financial system. Debate over a “hard Brexit,” “soft Brexit,” or “no-deal Brexit” caused the downfall of Theresa May’s government and a bitter polemic that nearly led to a second referendum. Only five years after the referendum was Prime Minister Boris Johnson able to make a complete withdrawal from the E.U. This difficulty existed despite the fact that the U.K., even as an E.U. member state, remained an independent country with its own currency, laws and financial system. Individual U.S. states are much more interconnected, and any similar breakup would be far more complex.
#4—Most U.S. States Are Divided Down the Middle
Secessionists assume that the enemy is a geographical one. American political maps, where states are conveniently labeled “red” or “blue” in presidential elections, skew the reality. Many Republican voters think that progressives and their supporters mostly live in far-away places like New York, Illinois, or California.
However, most “red” states are divided almost down the middle. Far-left progressives live not just on the coasts but also on most streets and maybe even next door. And these red-state progressives are working hard to turn red states blue.
Texas and Florida, two states often considered the best candidates for secession, are barely more than half Republican. In 2020, Donald Trump won 52.1% of the vote in Texas, 51.2% in Florida, and just 50.1% in North Carolina. When Texas Senator Ted Cruz ran for reelection in 2018 against Robert Francis “Beto” O’Roark, he won by 2.6 percentage points, a shockingly close race in supposedly “red” Texas.
Put another way, even if 100% of Trump voters in Texas agreed with secession and 100% of Biden voters disagreed, approximately 48% of Texans would be opposed to leaving the Union. There is no way that secession could work with such a divided state.
The likely result of Texas—or any state—seceding from the Union would be a massive wave of secession within the state itself. Like the rest of the country, Texas is a state with conservative rural areas dotted by blue, liberal cities. If Texas were to break away from the Union, what’s to stop deep-blue Houston, El Paso, or Austin from seceding from Texas? It would be inconsistent to say that the principle of self-determination applies to some people but not others. And if Houston breaks away from Texas, why shouldn’t the more Republican-leaning parts of Houston secede from Houston? There would be no end to the fragmentation once it starts.
#5—The Left has Always Wanted the Destruction of the United States
One of the main points of agreement among the extreme left worldwide is hatred for the United States of America. Despite its corrupt politicians, the United States is still a symbol of conservative reaction. Americans are the most religious and anti-socialist people in the developed world. The global pro-life and pro-family movements are centered in the United States. The country also has the most significant resistance to Islamic terrorism.
From Venezuela, Cuba, and Iran to North Korea and China, not to mention the numerous socialist parties worldwide, the international left has always seen the USA as the great enemy. Shortly after September 11 attacks, the Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff summarized the far-left reaction when he wrote that “25 planes should have hit it.” When Kabul fell in August 2021, the left everywhere was jubilant at seeing the United States humiliated in front of the whole world. Likewise, the breakup of the United States would be a dream come true for the enemies of Western civilization.
#6—The Left Does not Want to “Live and let Live,” but to Wage War on the Right
Secessionists naively assume that leftists in blue states will leave them alone once they break away. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Unlike conservatives, progressives go to the ends of the earth to impose their utopian ideology. It was progressives who invaded once-Republican states like California and Virginia and turned them into liberal bastions. Progressive groups from Europe and America spend a lot of money and effort promoting abortion, LGBT “rights,” and radical ecology in the world’s developing countries.
One of the highest priorities of the Democrat Party is to “turn Texas blue.” Texas is full of radical pro-abortion activists and is a battleground over “transgenderism” (see the James Younger case). In Oklahoma, the “buckle of the Bible Belt,” the Satanic Temple organized regular public Satanic Black Masses starting in 2014. Transgender activists have made a big push to promote Drag Queen Story Hours in very red Southern states such as Louisiana. Far-left activists would not stop fighting just because the state broke away.
#7—Secession does not Address the Root Causes of the Crisis
Most importantly, secession does not address the root causes of the crisis destroying American society.
The social, moral and economic breakdown of the United States is the bitter fruit of a long process of the Revolution that has been undermining Western civilization for centuries. It is an ideological and even spiritual battle for the soul of mankind. It is a culture war that knows no borders. Over the past century, this culture war has caused the decay of morality and religious practice in every country around the world. The fact that these countries were sovereign nations did not, in itself, stop this process.
Neither would secession. A breakaway state might pass some laws to slow down this Revolution, but laws alone will not stop it. These new independent American nations—like Spain and Portugal in the mid-twentieth century—would continue to see their culture rot away. They would undoubtedly watch the same degenerate Hollywood movies, see Kim Kardashian on the same Instagram or wear the same ripped Levi’s jeans like everyone else. Only by understanding the depth of the crisis, rejecting its moral depravity, and waging a cultural, peaceful and legal crusade against it can we hope to survive it.
Photo Credit: © cil86 – stock.adobe.com
- Robert Gerwarth, The Vanquished: How the First World War Failed to End (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2016), p. 7-8