The PJ Tatler

How Long Does America Have?

As Baltimore burned, the rest of us tweeted.

The riots followed a weekend in which GoFundMe shut down a fundraising page for a Christian-owned bakery that was hit with a huge fine for refusing to serve a gay wedding. GoFundMe has said its policy precludes raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.” The key word here is “hateful”: if you can expand or contract that word at will—which many people in this country can and do—you can accomplish anything.

Every week this country is consumed in a new distended orgy of polarized, mutual hatred, set against the backdrop of outrage mobs, race riots, shuttered businesses, scandals, Twitter-induced career ruination, gleeful smear parties, and partisan hackery.

Admit it: You’ve asked yourself where America is going, and how long it can survive the trip. Admit it.

Usually people think you’re crazy for asking this. But the New Normal has prompted Ace of Spades to ask: “Is it time to formally separate America into two or more sovereign nations?”

“No one actually seems happy in this national marriage,” writes Ace. That is sadly true.

I’m not advocating a national schism. I don’t want it. I want a union. I want a flag with 50 stars.

But what I want doesn’t matter. Larger forces are at work here, and it seems to me that a dispassionate assessment of the United States in 2015 must include the possibility of a major rupture in our social and political order within ten years. Probably less.

Now, some people will say, “You 30-year-old know-nothing, you weren’t around for Vietnam. Everyone thought the country would come apart then, but it didn’t. Then we got Reagan!”

To which I say: You’re right, I wasn’t around for Vietnam. Maybe I don’t know anything. But I think the country is quite different from the one that existed in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. We are different politically, economically, ideologically, demographically…pretty much in every way that matters. I think that conservatives who are waiting for a new Reagan are deluded, and dangerously so. They have been lulled into thinking that things will just get better as a matter of cyclical routine. Everything stays the same…until everything is different.

I’m not so sure “getting better” is possible anymore, or at least not possible before some major rupture once again makes it possible. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I look back at this post in 2020 and laugh at myself. But who honestly thinks they’ll be laughing in 2020?