Every four years America doesn’t just elect a new president, they get reminded about how America is politically divided. We’re all familiar with those maps of the United States, divided by county, with large swathes of red counties, peppered with smaller specks of blue counties. Those blue counties tend to be urban, with higher concentrations of population, so, even deep blue states have large land areas with mostly conservative voters in them, and all too often, their interests are completely ignored.
I live in a red county in New York State, so I know all too well what this feels like. If you don’t live in New York City, Long Island, or Hudson Valley, your interests aren’t well represented in state government. Various secession plans have been introduced and failed.
There are actually five states with conservative-leaning counties that feel ignored by their state governments that wish to secede and form their own states or join another one.
The Washington Times notes that in addition to New York, there are “Oregonians seeking to cascade into Idaho, Virginians who identify as West Virginians, Illinoians fighting to escape Chicago, [and] Californians dreaming of starting a 51st state.”
None of these efforts are likely to succeed. For such a thing to happen, both the state legislature and Congress have to approve. Good luck with that. But, all of these movements are symptoms of the same problem.
Mike McCarter, president of Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, says that “Oregon is controlled by the northwest portion of the state, Portland to Eugene. That’s urban land, and their decisions are not really representing rural Oregon.”
“They have their agenda and they’re moving forward with it, and they’re not listening to us,” he added.
As the liberal state government bankrupts the state of Illinois, a resolution has been introduced to make Illinois its own separate state. State Rep. Brad Halbrook, who introduced this resolution, says that “downstate voices are simply not being heard because we’ve been forced into this democracy that’s concentrated power into a small geographical area of the state.”
As a conservative, I can’t help holding out a glimmer of hope that any of these movements could succeed. But I also know they are a symptom of a larger problem that secession can’t fix. As much as our system of government is the best there is, years of polarization has resulted in the inability to compromise. Just look at Virginia. Their newly elected Democratic majority is ramming through a far-left agenda that is truly at odds with the swing state, particularly with conservative counties. When Democrats won control, no compromise with the minority was required, and they saw their concentration of power as permission to rule with a big blue fist. It was essentially the same thing we saw in the first two years of the Obama administration, with one-party government being seen as an opportunity to ram through a radical agenda, minority party be damned.
Even down at the individual level, the ability to compromise is becoming lost on us. Democrats are three times as likely as Republicans to unfriend people on Facebook over politics. People of both parties typically socialize with people who agree with them politically–though liberals are more likely to self-segregate by political affiliation.
This isn’t good. It’s influencing our political leaders and driving our country apart. It’s the reason why Democrats cared more about impeaching President Trump when he took office than cared about working with him. Heck, President Trump nearly gave them a path to codifying DACA, but they didn’t want to compromise in doing so. Democrats couldn’t even clap for the successes of our country during President Trump’s State of the Union.
Does it really have to be this way?
It may be cliche to say this, but it feels like this country is moving closer toward another civil war. Ignored red counties want to leave their blue states, and heck, even California had a movement to secede from the United States. At virtually all levels of politics, from interpersonal relationships to the federal government, we can barely talk to each other. The last time this country felt unified was after 9/11 and even that was only for a brief while. Still, 9/11 showed us that we have it in ourselves to put country over party. I really hope it doesn’t take another 9/11 for that to happen again.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis