Ed. Note: Another debate has broken out at SJ! Fault Lines alumni Mario Machado and Christopher Seaton are ready to slug it out to the following question: “Resolved: It is in the best interests of the American public to pursue a “national divorce.” Chris will take the affirmative while Mario argues the negative. Mario’s argument follows, and you can read Chris’ here.
The last time this Honorable nation proposed a divorce among states and took it seriously, it became the most sanguinary conflict this young country had ever seen. Ironically, when some people sought to form a permanent divide between “red” and “blue” states, the end result was a more resilient union that when fought brought together, it was able to repel all tyrannical threats from abroad. A stubborn railroad lawyer kept his oath to preserve and protect and defend the Union, despite all of his its paltry and envious foes.
How does this union look on the ground today? Yes, we’ve got the terminally unemployed insane people in Portland looking to completely defund the police (have they actually calculated what will result because of this proposition?), and governors in California and New York shutting down their constituents’ economies while they dance the night away and don’t give a whole damn. But on the other end, we’ve got places like Florida and Texas, where folks have chosen to remain strident, have kept the bars and restaurants open, and have refused to treat “its” people like backward children.
That brings up the practicalities of a permanent separation. Folks in those stubborn “blue” states are still free and able to take their monies to freer states where people are still literally open for business. Dividing the Union will bring travel restrictions among states that will weaken the economy and bring us one step closer to being second to China in GDP. And don’t bring up the “concept” of the European Union. Its separate states can’t agree on anything and are thus less efficient. “United we stand, divided we fall” is much more than a bumper sticker slogan.
The European Union is a failed state, no pun. We have our version of the PIIGS stateside, a bunch of freeloading, decadent jurisdictions, but so long as we stay together they can keep sucking on the fed teat while doing what’s most important: preserve the Union. And besides, part of the American identity is refusing to ever emulate a bunch of cheese-eating ankle-grabbers.
Yes, we’ve already got different states with different laws with different penalties. What can get you pretrial diversion for a bar fight in the Florida Keys can have you facing some time in Savannah. But at least when it comes to big-boy federal crimes, the U.S. Code gives us some sense of consistency across the board. Yes, the loss and drug quantity guidelines are complete nonsense all around black-box science, but at least we reach some consistency across the Union. Without consistency, we will have chaos.
Now, there’s a reason why some folks that hail from places like Tennessee feel nostalgic about the divided past, and from time to time reenact battles from the Civil War. They dress up and act out those skirmishes. I believe it’s because it gives them a sense of identity: “we’re from the South, damnit!” But I respectfully suggest that they’re missing the point. We are all Americans (I was naturalized, but same thing. Bite me). We get to travel, spend our hard-earned cash, wherever the hell we please in these beautiful states. There’s no one at the Florida-Georgia line asking for our papers whilst on our way to The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
Maybe I’m being dramatic. Maybe not. Just think of what that concept word “separation” entails: families. Put a restriction here, one there, and you make it much harder for families to see each other, to congregate. Think of the families on both sides of the Korean DMZ – which is a misnomer, by the way: that is the most heavily militarized piece of real estate on the planet – there are families on both sides who didn’t see each other for 65 years because the countries decided to “divorce.”
This Union has been through enough because of COVID to even think about what my writing brother Chris is asking to consider: more separation. Because we’ve remained as one, we’re still the baddest frigging country around. We have China and Russia hoping and looking for us to divide and fall apart, which is why they must’ve loved the Trump presidency so much. They saw everyone go to the fringes, while only a few remained sane. Lawyers and scholars who were thought to be serious people began to say some of the most insane things possible. A national divorce will only give the enemies of the U.S. reason what they want, and that’s a divided and weakened Union. That stubborn railroad lawyer was right all along.