How will it occur — if, one day, in the not-so-far future, the world’s most powerful nation experiences actual division: if we have to put quote marks around the word “united”?
That seems inconceivable and certainly undesirable and yet astounding it is — perhaps ominous it is — how rigid both sides of every debate have become: each with its own set of facts, faith, and reality.
As discussed in August a year ago — during that solar eclipse that was visible only in the U.S., cleaving the heartland of the Midwest and exiting the East Coast at Charleston, where the first shots in the Civil War were fired — not since Abraham Lincoln has the nation been so divided; not since Watergate, and just before that, the late Sixties, has there been so much domestic disquiet: splits between numerous factions (young, old, tech, non-tech, liberal, conservative, rich, middle class, poor). The devil’s great tactic, we all have heard, many times, is division.
And so it is: everywhere, fissures that could become fractures, then chasms, due to issues such as religious rights, homosexuality, economic disparity, immigration, and of course politics, as various regions and states increasingly edge toward status as more distinct and less united entities.
That could lead, someday, in theory, to clusters of the like-minded forming what amount to regional alliances — and turning the U.S. into more a union or confederation than republic.
How such would occur (a gaggle of perhaps five alliances, in geographic terms) is hard to augur, for adjacent states often have different politics (see West Virginia and Virginia, or better, New Mexico and Texas) and there are even divisions within states, as is the case, most blatantly, in California.
Although a court has halted it for now, there’s a large-scale effort to divy up the “Golden State” not just into two states — liberal and conservative — but perhaps three (Hispanic, non-Hispanic).
The divide in wealth is startling and resembles France before its revolution. In the U.S., the wealthiest one percent own forty percent of the country’s possessions, according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Wolff. This is not tenable.
The defining boundaries of a disunited nation might mimic the abortion divide.
That’s because if Roe versus Wade is abolished by the U.S. Supreme Court (still a big “if”), the issue goes back to each state, where legislatures and state courts will decide whether to outlaw abortion or keep it legal.
A battle royale — fought state by state — will ensue.
Take Kansas. It has a ban on a commonly used second-trimester procedure called dilation and evacuation — which abortion opponents call “dismemberment abortion” — but it’s tied up in the state’s court of appeals.
Noted a recent analysis, “Sending abortion regulation back to the states would likely result in a patchwork quilt of laws across the country. Four states already have ‘trigger laws’ that would automatically ban abortion if Roe is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.”
Where various states stand on abortion grants one a notion — however nebulous, and however speculative — of what a divided U.S. would look like.
Keep in mind that the map [below] is provided by an organization, the Guttmacher Institute, that promotes abortion, although its research grants us insight (and foresight). The states in turquoise are the most pro-abortion ones; those in dark orange the most pro-life.
Still, it is hard to visualize the way alliances would materialize, if materialize they ever do. For instance, how would New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey form a confederation with like-minded California when there are at least seven states between them geographically?
Or is it the case that in the new cyber world, distance is irrelevant?
Or might the West Coast unite into its own entity? Throw in states colored gray as “middle ground,” and one could see California, Oregon, Washington, and Montana joined by Nevada, Wyoming, and Colorado.
That’s sixty million people — about the population of France or Italy.
One can also look at “red” and “blue” states [map, toward top] to get an idea of the divides. Or, in these drought-stricken times, states that have freshwater and those who do not.
This spring, Mississippi banned nearly all abortions after fifteen weeks, and a pro-abortion company called Jackson Women’s Health swiftly sued, challenging the ban, which was blocked the next day. “It sounds like I’m talking about another country, and in a lot of ways that’s what it’s like,” said its director, Diane Derzis.
It’s one of the few things, with someone like Derzis, upon which one can agree.