Conservative radio giant Rush Limbaugh caused a stir on Wednesday. He said “there cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life” and said America was “trending toward secession.” This led feminist author Amy Siskind to propose a division: blue states join Canada to become “The United States of Canada” while red states form an independent country, “Jesusland.” “Civil War” started trending on Twitter as leftists suggested Limbaugh was trying to spark a civil war.
It appears Amy Siskind deleted her tweet, but it still makes sense to delve into what Rush Limbaugh actually said and what it means about the state of America today.
So what did Rush Limbaugh say? He responded to a question from a caller. The caller asked if conservatives and Republicans are ever going to be able to win elections in deep-blue areas. Limbaugh wasn’t exactly bullish on that. However, he did address a deeper and more consequential question: can conservatives win in the culture?
I thought you were asking me something else when you said, “Can we win?” I thought you meant, “Can we win the culture, can we dominate the culture.” I actually think — and I’ve referenced this, I’ve alluded to this a couple of times because I’ve seen others allude to this — I actually think that we’re trending toward secession. I see more and more people asking what in the world do we have in common with the people who live in, say, New York? What is there that makes us believe that there is enough of us there to even have a chance at winning New York? Especially if you’re talking about votes.
I see a lot of bloggers — I can’t think of names right now — a lot of bloggers have written extensively about how distant and separated and how much more separated our culture is becoming politically and that it can’t go on this way. There cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs. We can’t be in this dire a conflict without something giving somewhere along the way.
And I know that there’s a sizable and growing sentiment for people who believe that that is where we’re headed, whether we want to or not — whether we want to go there or not. I myself haven’t made up my mind. I still haven’t given up the idea that we are the majority and that all we have to do is find a way to unite and win, and our problem is the fact that there are just so many RINOs, so many Republicans in the Washington establishment who will do anything to maintain their membership in the establishment because of the perks and the opportunities that are presented for their kids and so forth.
Rush Limbaugh was not suggesting conservatives should secede from the Union and spark a civil war. Quite the opposite. However, he did acknowledge a growing cultural gulf between left-leaning elites and Americans who refuse to go along with the latest race/class/gender trends in the increasingly stifling leftist orthodoxy.
Radical ideologies like Marxist critical race theory and transgender ideology have infiltrated the commanding heights of American culture, so much so that even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposed President Donald Trump’s decision to nix “white privilege” indoctrination sessions for federal contractors and companies rushed to claim that the pregnant female lead in the movie Juno was really a man, even at the time when she identified as a lesbian!
University professors have confessed to abetting “racism” and “white supremacy,” as if policies that have nothing to do with race are actually “systemically racist.” Democrats are fighting to get rid of the Hyde Amendment, claiming that protecting pro-life taxpayers from funding abortion is “racist” (even though abortion disproportionately kills black babies).
In this context, Americans who think that life begins at conception rightly feel demonized and silenced. In this context, Americans who think the United States is fundamentally good, not fundamentally and systematically racist, feel betrayed by a growing segment of elites. In this context, Americans who know the truth about biology — that maleness and femaleness goes all the way down to the level of DNA and that differences between men and women begin in the womb — feel demonized and silenced.
Yes, American culture is becoming “distant and separated.” There really are “two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs” in this country.
When it comes to “trending toward secession,” Limbaugh’s words had less to do with states seceding from the Union and more to do with conservatives withdrawing from the dominant hostile culture. Rod Dreher’s book The Benedict Option struck a chord because many conservatives are choosing to focus on their communities rather than on directly engaging the culture.
More and more conservatives are choosing to homeschool their children or to put them in private schools, in order to preserve their way of life from increasingly radical trends in public schools. Conservatives are turning to alternative news sources because they cannot trust the increasingly leftist slant of legacy media outlets like The New York Times. This kind of secession is very real, and likely to intensify.
If America does devolve into a civil war, it seems far more likely radicals in antifa will lead that charge. After all, antifa agitators have threatened the lives of police officers, knocked over all kinds of monuments — even desecrating monuments to black Union volunteers in the Civil War! — and threatened the peace of communities. Conservatives don’t organize violent attacks on police stations and federal courthouses.
Rush Limbaugh was not supporting states seceding or a civil war, but he was warning about America’s worsening cultural divide. The culture wars are only likely to get worse with Democrat Joe Biden likely to enter the White House next year (President Donald Trump is still contesting the election, but it seems increasingly unlikely he will prevail).
If America’s elites want to prevent cultural fragmentation and isolation, they should reconsider their rush off the deep end of leftist orthodoxy. America’s institutions work best when they include all Americans, but conservatives have learned to be wary of ideological warfare in places where it does not belong.
Sadly, these trends show no sign of abating.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.