I haven’t had this blog for very long, but so far I have avoided addressing politics very much. I’m supremely uninterested in horse race politics, and I am not a Republican nor a Democrat nor a member or proponent of any third party. As a disclaimer, let me say that I do not consider these to be totally unimportant questions. I do care, on some level, about politics and the political situation of my own country, my state, and my community. I understand that these things affect my life and the lives of those I care about.
Politics simply isn’t the focus of this blog. There are lots of important things that I care about that I don’t address on here, like diet and exercise, for example.
Part of the reason for this is that one must maintain some boundaries to be readable. I care about all kinds of (unimportant) things like Seattle Seahawks football and coffee-growing conditions in Ethiopia, which are irrelevant at best to 99% of readers.
But another reason is that I find the things I do address to be most interesting and most important, at least for me. That is: God and religion; our relationship to the divine; the day-to-day choices that lead to the good life; the nature of the True, the Beautiful and the Good; and how to live a meaningful life in a time and place that deliberately sucks meaning out of every nook and cranny it can get its ravenous maw on.
It’s that last point that prompts me to finally address a semi-political issue on “Out of Sleep”. I often read Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right blog, and it’s one of the very few I see fit to link in my sidebar. I’ve also been a sometime commenter at that blog (usually posting under the name “Daniel H. in Seattle”). I don’t always agree with Mr. Auster, but I usually do, and I find him one of the most honest, forceful, and eloquent writers anywhere on or off the internet.
Something he’s occasionally addressed on his blog, usually with lengthy comments from readers (which to me signifies that he’s really hitting a nerve), is the idea of an eventual break-up of the United States along liberal/conservative lines.
I consider this a “semi” political issue because it’s completely off the radar of politics as they are in the USA today. Ultimately, the break-up of the United States would be extremely political by definition. But it’s not about today’s electoral politics; it’s not about the House or the Senate, or Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or Michelle Bachmann or anyone like that. So I consider it only “semi” for those reasons, if you understand.
I can’t rehash all the arguments here. If the topic interests you, here are four posts from VFR: link, link, link, link. But I find it a fascinating idea. Part of me thinks it is desirable, and all of me thinks it’s a cool idea, in the SciFi, counterfactual history sense. Does that make me seem intellectually unserious, that I entertain something for its coolness factor? Actually, I think we would all do well to let ourselves get inspired a little more, rather than immediately tamping down ideas because we’ve been told they are ridiculous. Frodo carrying the Ring into Mordor was ridiculous too.
The most recent post that Mr. Auster posted was this one.
So after all this preamble, I come to the meager kernel of my thought. One of the consistent threads running through the arguments about separating the United States into two (or more) separate nations is the idea of geographical separation. Things are thorny because unlike in the Civil War days, the warring sides are not neatly separated into geographically contiguous states. Rather they are separated mainly between urban zones and rural zones. And as I can personally attest, many people living in one zone are at complete odds politically with their neighbors. Here’s a map that probably no American needs to see, but merely to back up my point: voting patterns by county from the 2004 presidential election.
What Americans who want to break away from the overwhelming, overweening, multiculti, degraded and hyper-materialist State probably need to do is to form explicitly conservative communities. Of course, many small towns in the West and the South are already this way (and in the North and Midwest too, of course, to a lesser degree). But it’s not explicit. In order to have a political separation begin on the explicit level, there needs to be some sort of political confrontation.
The most obvious way for this to happen would be the Federal Government (by far the most liberal institution, not to mention the most powerful) to explicitly overrule a conservative community. Now, of course, this has happened many times before (over abortion, over regulations, over “gay rights”, etc.). The biggest potential for a really meaningful fight in the United States always happens at the State vs Federal level. States are very feeble against the Feds since the New Deal (and since the Civil War, really), but they still manage to win court cases here and there, even at the Federal level.
The most recent example of a really big fight between a state and the Feds was the immigration law passed in Arizona. Conservative Arizonans are still very much activated by this issue, though it has completely dropped off the national radar. But Arizona, while it’s not exactly New Jersey, is not the most conservative state in the country.
What if there were a serious court battle between Utah or Idaho and the United States Government? And what if that battle were over something explicitly conservative and anti-federal? It’s a stretch, but I can envision a scenario where Utah, sufficiently roused to action by something they really care about, declares some form of independence from the Feds. This tactic doesn’t even need to succeed on a legal level. It just needs to act as an impetus to the rest of conservative America. The start of something. Presumably it would be messy and complicated.
We saw the beginnings in Arizona, and that fight is perhaps not over yet, at all. But Arizonans are not pushing the matter very much. I think of Utah because it is of course mostly Mormons, who believe in themselves and who inhere as a group. They love their own and they don’t doubt their own right to live as they see fit. The rest of us non-Mormons don’t need to believe in Mormonism to benefit from the cohesion that Mormons have.
If Utah (or Idaho or Alaska) started a true separatist movement, that could, with the help of the internet, inspire a larger movement to create communities that were explicitly in defiance of Federal power. Even in my own “blue state” of Washington, there are many conservative people, especially East of the Mountains, as we say here. The Feds can clamp down on one little law like in Arizona, but they cannot quash a thousand communities across a dozen states, not if the people in those communities are strong of heart and courage.
Is this just a pipe dream? I don’t think so. The tension is real, and even if the truly conservative in this country are vastly outnumbered, they still number in the millions. It’s interesting to think about how the future might look. Certainly we will not see things remain the same. They never do.