Until the last few months, the idea of disunion as anything but a historical relic had barely occurred to me. But lately, I have begun to wonder. Is there any basis on which we can share governance of America with people who hate our country and our traditions, institutions, culture and freedoms? Why, exactly, should we want to do so? Is there any set of shared assumptions and values that will allow normal Americans and leftists to work together as fellow citizens? One begins to wonder.
Last Friday, I filled in for Dan Proft on his late-night Salem network show. Dan has a great booker and producer who makes hosting easy. One of our guests was Frank Buckley, a professor at Scalia Law School and columnist for the New York Post.
We started out talking about Buckley’s column “America Held Hostage” in the Spectator, where he connects the current madness to November’s election. We then moved on to discuss Frank’s book American Secession: The Looming Threat of a National Breakup. With remarkable prescience, Buckley wrote the book last year, and it was published in January.
In the 21st Century, disunion wouldn’t mean civil war. It would be much like Brexit–difficult, but not impossible. Such questions as how to divide the national debt would have to be negotiated. Population exchanges might need to be arranged, as many blue state residents would want to move to Free America (as one might tentatively call the potential red state union) and a smaller number would want to move the other way. What to do with Washington, D.C.? Free America would probably be willing to cede it to Leftist America, but it is full of monuments to American history, which leftists hate. So maybe we would flip a coin.
It is easy to see which way most states would go. Leftist America would include California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland. Free America would include Texas, the Rocky Mountain states, Florida and the Southeast, and the Midwest except for Illinois. In a few states, like Minnesota and Virginia, there might be bitterly fought plebiscites, but it would be nothing like Kansas in the 1850s. In some cases, states might be broken up. California from Orange County south, Illinois south of Cook County, upstate New York and eastern Washington and Oregon would want to join Free America, and maybe that could be negotiated.
What is the alternative to disunion? We can, of course, muddle along the way we are, but there is a serious risk of America’s irreconcilable minority of leftists dragging down the rest of us. Frank Buckley points out that one practical alternative could be a rebirth of federalism. If New York will give up on governing Nebraska, Nebraska never had any desire to govern New York in the first place. But that might be a pipe dream.
In any event, Buckley’s is a provocative hypothesis. And once you begin thinking about it, it doesn’t seem as outlandish as one might have assumed just a few months ago. Here is the audio of my two segments with Frank Buckley: