Have you ever wondered what the world’s alternative to Pax Americana thinks of our widening polarization? No, not the Russians, silly. A recent article by an internet promoter of investing in Chinese stock options (gee, I wonder whom THAT might be?) gives us this impression of the coming breakup of America, from an outsider’s (ahem) perspective:
America Is On Track For a Breakup
While this may all sound like far off speculation (and it is today), the key to remember is what happens as social mood declines. Ten to fifteen years from now, the U.S. economy could be in dire straits, with high taxes needed to finance the debt and probably a foreign war. The burden of union would be very great and the hatred between left and right will have grown far more intense. The conservative (non-political meaning) first step is to alleviate the desire to secede, as Giuliani did with Staten Island in 1993. The next best step is to allow some limited form of secession, such as joining another existing political unit. Ignoring the problem and dismissing it as not worth worrying about is to gamble that social mood will not decline.
Well, social mood is still in decline and now it is the left that is clamoring for exit.
Let’s face it, guys: We’re done.
For more than 80 years now, we—the residents of what some people like to call Blue America, but which I prefer to think of as the United States of We Pay Our Own Damn Way—have shelled out far more in federal tax monies than we took in. We have funded massive infrastructure projects in your rural counties, subsidized your schools and your power plants and your nursing homes, sent you entire industries, and simultaneously absorbed the most destitute, unskilled, and oppressed portions of your populations, white and black alike.
All of which, it turns out, only left you more bitter, white, and alt-right than ever.
The right makes pretty much the exact same arguments, which is a good sign of negative social mood. Divorcing couples often don’t make a lot of sense, they just hate each other and accuse each other of the same things.
We give up. You win. From now on, we’ll treat the animating ideal on which the United States was founded—out of many, one—as dead and buried. Federalism, true federalism, which you have vilified for the past century, is officially over, at least in spirit. You want to organize the nation around your cherished principle of states’ rights—the idea that pretty much everything except the U.S. military and paper currency and the national anthem should be decided at the local level? Fine. We won’t formally secede, in the Civil War sense of the word. We’ll still be a part of the United States, at least on paper. But we’ll turn our back on the federal government in every way we can, just like you’ve been urging everyone to do for years, and devote our hard-earned resources to building up our own cities and states. We’ll turn Blue America into a world-class incubator for progressive programs and policies, a laboratory for a guaranteed income and a high-speed public rail system and free public universities. We’ll focus on getting our own house in order, while yours falls into disrepair and ruin.
One threshold for secession is getting the left to push for it. The American right is generally supporting of secession, but the left opposes it. When a right-wing state passes a law against gay marriage, or about bathrooms, leftist state ban travel and business with the state. So now that the left is catching on to the idea, the odds of success are very good. The right will not oppose secession by the left, instead they are likely to encourage it. The path to secession now runs downhill.
Secession may not take the form of break-up at first. It may involve greater devolution of powers from Washington. The end of transfers between the states. This will allow states to become laboratories of democracy again. Some Red states could abolish most public welfare without the federal government intervening. Blue states could implement universal healthcare and free public education instead of funding the military. The Red states can abolish income taxes. The policy differences between the states will widen greatly. America will be a truly diverse nation of 50 or more states. And Pax Americana will be over for the rest of the world.
The key will be social mood. It always looks darkest before dawn. If social mood recovers, this will end up being a quirk of history, like the calls for Manitoba to join the U.S. in the 1970s (over resources taxes). If social mood doesn’t recover, if this is a larger cycle decline in mood, then this is more akin to 1840 or 1850, the lead up to full blown secession.