In a “national divorce”, which side gets the kids, the pets, the car and the house?
Or more appropriately in a political and constitutional sense, if red and blue American states opt to go their separate ways, who gets control of the military, the nuclear codes (and weapons), the offshore energy reserves, the national parks and the nation’s capital? And perhaps most importantly, who’s responsible for paying off the national debt (a.k.a., alimony and child support)?
It’s not like we can just start over by liquidating the nation’s assets to cover the mountain of IOUs that Congresses and presidents from both parties accumulated over the course of decades. Selling a house or cashing out and dividing a retirement account seems simple and basic compared to trying to cover tens of trillions, doesn’t it?
Just like with a legal divorce dispute between two consenting adults, these aren’t straightforward issues. I’d venture to guess that nearly all married couples have, at one time or another, contemplated a divorce. There are too many intense life challenges for two distinct sexes (yes, I still believe marriage is between one man and one woman, bring on the hate!) to get along swimmingly every hour until death do us part. And the longer the marriage continues the more complex it becomes. Raising children, saving for retirement, relocating the family, career stresses, health concerns and even extended families pull at the ties that bind every moment of each day.
Being married helps deal with most of these trepidations but there’s no such thing as perfection, and one can read all of Dr. Laura Schlesinger’s books and still not have a clue how to perpetuate a union. Knowing it won’t be easy to legally untangle yourselves from the intricate web of matrimony has no doubt saved many a couple’s merger.
But what about a practical divorce between states of the union? Don’t laugh – the topic is being discussed more and more these days. In an article titled “Marjorie Taylor Greene defends comment calling for a 'national divorce': 'Necessary reality'”, Jack Birle reported at the Washington Examiner:
“Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) defended her calls for a ‘national divorce’, saying she wasn't calling for a civil war but is concerned that's the direction the country is headed...
“’That’s the problem and where we are today. In my life and my world, all of my friends are regular Americans; everyone I talked to is sick and tired of being bullied by the Left and disrespected by the Left,’ she said [on Sean Hannity’s program]. ‘Our idea, our policies, our ways of life have become so far apart that’s coming to that point, the last thing I ever want to see in America is a civil war. No one wants that. At least everyone that I know would never want that. It's going that direction, we have to do something about it.’ ...
“’This isn't ending our union. This is shrinking the federal government, which we need to stop our spending,’ she said. ‘Our spending is out of control. We can abolish departments and different parts of our federal government and give states more power and control to conduct their affairs and their laws that fit the people that live in those states. This is more respectful towards all Americans, and it could end the fighting, and hopefully, we can respect each other once again.’”
I admit, I was a little confused by MTG’s elaboration. She called for a “divorce” yet insisted she’s not in favor of ending our union (the “marriage”). Basically, she’s talking about slicing off the parts that people of different states can’t agree upon and then having the citizens of those locations make their own rules according to the will of the majority.
Sounds like federalism by a fancy name to me! Who would’ve ever thought of such a thing?
MTG might not have settled on the correct terminology for her idea, but her basic concept is rock solid. When populations of different regions and states can’t decide on whether to adopt an abortion ban, for example, how could we expect the representatives and senators from fifty such political jurisdictions to make one-size-fits-all laws?
I sure as heck don’t favor the citizens of Chicago or New York City determining how our national government is run. Why? Because I don’t want my relatively peaceful piece of God’s earth to end up a run and gun battle zone like those places are now. I prefer local matters to be solved with local input, not a hodgepodge of “For The People Act”-type bills to tell me what I must think and how to run elections, or decide on “climate change” mitigation or whether a man should be legally able to wed another man – or that my daughter’s sports teams must grant access to human beings with male (at birth) body parts.
Further, MTG is right on in calling for government departments to be dismantled and their powers handed to the states to do with whatever they choose. Why should a federal department of education be empowered to dictate school curriculum to everyone? Shouldn’t parents be determinative of what is taught in schools? And why would the federal government be in the business of financing college educations?
What a mess. In a “divorce”, the judge decides who’s responsible for paying for college – and the issue is always contentious. Imagine figuring on who pays for millions of students. It can’t be done amicably.
Beyond my “heck yeah!” initial reaction to MTG’s proposal, how would it work? What if a state doesn’t want to take on the added burden of assuming the modern federal government’s bloated and vastly overexpanded powers? Does each province get to vote on whether to establish their own “Environmental Protection Agency”?
Besides, how would you settle on what is a blue state, and what is a red state? The most perplexing dilemma in a potential red/blue state divorce is determining who the parties would be. In a “regular” civil divorce, there’s no question as to who the litigants are – husband and wife. Or, if you’re Pete Buttigieg, husband and husband. Or wife and wife… can’t think of any other examples here, and when you throw in transgender humans, what do you call the opposite sides, them and them?
All joking aside, it would be very hard to determine who’s red and who’s blue. Seeing as there are a number of solid purple states (otherwise known as “swing” states in national elections), would these be apportioned to the Republican side or the Democrat side?
Take my state of Virginia as an example. Seeing as the Old Dominion has become a reliable safe haven for Democrat presidential candidates, many, many observers across the country consider us a “blue” state. We also have two Democrat senators (idiots!) who portend to be “moderate” at reelection time but rarely are on the opposite voting side of Chucky Schumer’s agenda. Our state is split down the middle in the House, with each party currently holding five seats, with one vacancy.
Thanks to a sudden injection of common sense in late 2021, Virginia now has a Republican governor, potential presidential candidate Glenn Youngkin, a GOP lieutenant governor (Winsome Sears) and a promising young conservative Attorney General (Jason Miyares). The legislature shows narrow/split majorities in both the Assembly (Republican) and state Senate (Democrats).
In other words, Virginia, as of now, is about as evenly divided as a state can get. Both sides would tug at The Old Dominion to include us as part of their faction after the “divorce”, but how could we, the citizens, possibly decide which way to go?
Beyond the basic impracticalities, I know a lot of folks who would love to split-up the states. But none of them favor a civil war, either. The War Between the States decided that question in the 1860’s and there’s no groundswell of urgency to pick up an AR 15 and take off against each other again. Or is there?
I’ve argued it before – there’s no clean geographical dividing line this time (like there was in 1860-61), and absent a new push for blue vs. gray (or red?) uniforms, it’s impossible to tell friend from foe. I know most Californians are politically liberal, but I wouldn’t want to take up arms against my native state. Believe it or not, there are lots of conservatives there, too.
So how to achieve the “benefits” of a “divorce” – freedom from tyranny! – without the ugly procedural problems? The Constitution provides all the remedies we would ever need, including provisions to amend the foundational document with common sense reforms that would stop the blue states’ legislators from trampling all over the rest of us.
Harmony could also be achieved by electing more conservatives at all levels. Sound policy starts at home, and people who desire a “divorce” would be better off emulating what they’re doing in Florida, by pinpointing out-of-touch “woke” liberals on school boards and expending the time and resources to put good people in their places.
We can make improvements in government. Focus on the possible and you’d be surprised what a difference everyone can make if they get involved. Participation and activism serve as a form of “marriage counseling” rather than simply opting for an all-encompassing divorce. If this is the case, don’t be surprised if we end up reconciling and avoiding the dissolution altogether.
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