November 30, 2012
Now that Christmas and Easter have been expunged from public schools and the public square and the popular culture has been thoroughly de-Christianized, we Americans seem to have but one holy day of obligation that brings us all together: Super Bowl Sunday.
Where one America divinizes diversity, the other seeks out our lost unity and community. Half the country pays no federal income taxes, but half depends on federal benefits.
The occasions when we come together as one, as after 9/11 and during natural disasters such as Katrina and Sandy, seem few and farther between, and the resurrected unity rarely lasts.
Could today’s America come together to build an interstate highway system or send astronauts to the moon, as we did just seven years after John Glenn first orbited the Earth?
Environmentalists would have killed Ike’s highway system and the Hoover and Grand Coulee dams, as today they seek to stop the fracking for oil and natural gas and block the Keystone XL pipeline.
As for states seceding, however, is that really a solution to national disintegration? Tens of millions with Blue State mindsets live in Red State America, and vice versa. While folks in Texas may talk of seceding from the Union, folks in Austin talk of seceding from Texas.
Yet we should take seriously what is behind this desire to separate and sever ties, for it mirrors what is happening across our civilization.
The West is decomposing.
British Tories seek to cut ties to the European Union. Scots want to leave Britain. Catalans vote to divorce from Spain, to which they have been wedded since the 15th century. Flemish talk of leaving Walloons behind in Belgium. Northern Europeans are weary of carrying their profligate southern brethren and muse about cutting Greece adrift and letting it float out into the Mediterranean.
And Americans are already seceding from one another—ethnically, culturally, politically. Middle-class folks flee high-tax California, as Third World immigrants, legal and illegal, pour in to partake of the cornucopia of social welfare benefits the Golden Land dispenses.
High-tax states like New York now send tens of thousands of pension checks to Empire State retirees in tax-free Florida. Communities of seniors are rising that look like replicas of the suburbs of the 1950s. People gravitate toward their own kind. Call it divorce, American-style.
What author William Bishop called “The Big Sort”—the sorting out of people by political beliefs—proceeds. Eighteen states have gone Democratic in six straight presidential elections. A similar number have gone Republican.
“Can we all just get along?” asked Rodney King during the Los Angeles riot of 1992. Well, if we can’t, we can at least dwell apart.
After all, it’s a big country.