Notes from Underground
Why not secession?
By ANDY NOWICKI
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With pre-election polls showing the nation almost evenly split between the two major presidential candidates (again), we are faced once more with the drama of a country deeply divided against itself. Another painfully close decision appears to be looming, complete with (God help us) more post-election litigation and chicanery, accompanied by a heavy helping of bitterness felt and recriminations expressed by citizens on both sides of the liberal/conservative cultural divide. But that should have at least one positive result: if nothing else, it should make people forget the phony, feel-good post-9/11 rhetoric about a nation that is purported to be "standing together" against a common foe.
Indeed, whoever the winner turns out to be, the real story will be that nearly half the country will hate his guts and refuse to regard him as "their" president. That is already how the so-called Blue (that is, liberal) America feels about George W. Bush; and such sentiments aren't likely to dissipate, but rather intensify, over the next four years if Bush squeaks by with another victory. Should John F. Kerry win, however, conservative "Red" America will be the one flipping a collective middle finger in the direction of the White House, at least until 2009.
The true convictions of Bush and Kerry if such may be said to exist are not relevant here. Chances are that neither man cares about any particular issue so much as he does about holding the position of "Most Powerful Man in the World." The realm of politics, after all, tends to draw ambitious opportunists more often than it draws fervent adherents to a cause. Bush and Kerry (like Bush and Gore four years ago) are in large part mere symbols of what their respective followers hold dear. To most conservatives (disgruntled paleocons excepted), Bush embodies faith, family, and tradition; while liberals (disaffected Naderites aside) have invested Kerry with the supposedly desirable qualities of "progressiveness" and "tolerance."
Thus, Bush and Kerry, as symbols, represent two opposing world-views views that are in conflict with each another at a very fundamental level. Indeed, when there exists such extreme disagreement, right down to the level of premises, such as on the matter of the definition of human life and the human personality as is the case with the abortion question there seems little point in even discussing the matter, much less debating it. Certainly there is no point in doing so in the forum of mass politics.
With such a vast chasm having opened between Red and Blue America, between adherents to tradition and disciples of "progress," one wonders why there isn't any talk of an impending split in the body politic, resulting in the actual formation of two distinct countries where before had been "one nation, indivisible." Why has secession still not been seriously proposed by anyone of consequence? In 1860, after all, when the electorate was bitterly divided along cultural and geographic lines, as is the case now, secession was all the rage. Why has it been taken off the table in our time, when it seems to be more appropriate a consideration than ever?
For Blue America, of course, secession is not an option, even when Blue Americans find themselves stuck with a commander-in-chief whom they despise with a passion. Seceding, after all, means departing from the people you don't like and promising to leave them alone so long as you are left alone. And liberals don't want to leave their enemies alone; instead, as their track record shows, they want to take over the government in order to force their enemies to endure perpetual sensitivity training for being such racist, sexist, homophobic, "closed-minded" boors, i.e., for disagreeing with them.
Modern-day liberalism is built on spite and condescension toward the "unenlightened"; the liberal's hostility toward the conservative derives from the latter's mere existence. Conservatives dislike liberals because conservatives don't appreciate being constantly slandered and harassed; but liberals hate conservatives just for breathing ... and for having the audacity to remain conservative instead of becoming enlightened. Echoing Henry Higgins's refrain from "My Fair Lady" "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" the liberal asks, "Why can't a Republican be more like ... me?"
But why is secession not being seriously considered by Red America: the conservatives? Why would they not consider secession if John Kerry, as toxic a figure to Red America as Lincoln was to the sovereign Southern states in 1860, should get himself elected president?
The answer, I'm afraid, is that most of Red America is still deluded by the post-9/11 cliché about "standing together." They still hold fast to the phony "one nation, indivisible" doctrine their children recite in the Pledge of Allegiance to the state every day at school. They are either too dense or too naïve to see not only that the notion of perpetual Union is an unconstitutional travesty but also that allegiance to the Union might well be a sin, given what that Union has become.
November 1, 2004
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