I was pleased to see Jesse Kelly’s call for an amicable divorce in the Federalist today. While I’m no fan of divorce for married couples, I must concur that Americans can clearly no longer agree on how we want to be governed or even how we want to live together. Unfortunately, the reality of it is considerably stickier than that.
There was a time when Americans had shared principles but disagreed on how to implement them. That’s clearly no longer the case, but it gets worse. I’m old enough to have caught the tail-end of a time when Americans had different principles, but mostly agreed that we should all argue and vote based on our respective principles in order to determine how to run our nation. Even this is no longer the case. We now find ourselves in a situation where only one side still thinks, argues, and votes based (to some extent) on principles at all. The other side determines its views by means of narrative rather than reason and principle. Our differences have reached the point where neither side can even communicate coherently with the other, and we have no shared sense of ‘fair play’ left.
One way or another, a break-up is inevitable. While an amicable divorce would be ideal, the problem is that we are not ready for one, and the window of opportunity is closing.
I’m among those who believe America is already in a cold civil war. The only thing that will stop it from turning hot is if one side or the other collapses first. The left is already determined to annihilate the right in any way they can get away with. They are bound and determined to exile from civil society anyone who wavers from their current version of goodthink. The right, on the other hand, largely fails to understand their predicament. Most conservatives still try for a coexistence that the left no longer considers an acceptable outcome. It’s a naiveté that we desperately need to get over.
But the fact that we haven’t gotten over it is precisely why we’re not ready for an amicable divorce either. When a couple sees divorce on the horizon, they each have a plan. They have their own bank accounts. They have some idea of where they’re going to live. They have lawyers. Conservatives do not have any plan on how to live apart from liberals.
In the Federalist piece, Kelly divides America up by drawing a red line between the coastal & northern states and the southern & midwest states. But wherever you put the geographical line, too many of our differences aren’t geographical.
The left dominates most of our national institutions and the right has no plan for replacing them. Are the universities in Kelly’s southern territories profoundly less liberal than the ones on the coasts? Do the southern territories watch TV and movies produced anywhere except in the coastal territories? Fox News is the only mainstream national news outlet that is even arguably conservative (and they’re pretty damn globalist when it comes down to it,) and their HQ is squarely in Liberal Land. Even new cultural fixtures like social media are run almost exclusively by SJW’s who are increasingly flexing their muscles when it comes to forcing non-leftists off their platforms. Most conservatives aren’t ready to cut the cord on these institutions, and they have mostly failed to create viable alternatives. So conservatives are not prepared for a divorce.
The social justice left, on the other hand, does not want a divorce. They want only to destroy anyone over whom they cannot reign. There is no boundary at which they would be satisfied to stop and go no further. They want the whole enchilada, and so far, conservatives have done nothing to even suggest to them that they cannot have it in the end.
You can’t win a war if you don’t realize that one is happening. Neither can you achieve a cease-fire or a negotiated peace. If conservatives don’t wake up, their children will be pining for the days when writers were even allowed to posit the idea of an amicable divorce.
Unfortunately, “conservatives” are hardly a monolithic” block. There is quite the fragmentation among us. There are those of us aware of both the issues and the likely near-future ramifications of present matters. Fran Porretto framed it well:
“Economist Herbert Stein is famous for having said that ‘If something cannot continue indefinitely, it will stop.’ ‘Something’ in that sentence is a true wildcard. One can replace it with any phenomenon whatsoever. That includes the Left’s total-war attitude toward its identified opponents. The nation cannot endure this state of affairs, which affects every aspect of American life, forever.”
But the libertarians wander off the conservative plantation at will; the neocons desire war first anywhere, anytime; the “Muddled middle” – as I call them – are conservative in their lives in general, but often open to whatever changes the winds blow in. Russell Kirk conservatives are few and far between.
I confess I am not at all sure how it will all play out, but the present state of affairs will not go on much longer. I pray it is not a CW redux, but it seems little else can grab hold of the left, and wake up the muddled middle and libertarians. The neocons would probably love a shooting civil war.
One can only pray that peace, and rationality win out. Not many visible signs of that, though. Sigh.
Rev. Jeff Baxter, Em. (jb)
It’s true that conservativism has always been a coalition. (And really, I don’t think the neocons even belong in that coalition anymore–violent globalism is their key issue, and it doesn’t mesh well with the issues of other conservatives. They’re generally more comfortable with the moderate left than with Libertarians, tradcons, paleocons, etc.) But at the same time, I don’t think any of the various groups (again, other than the neocons) are going to get a pass from the authoritarian left. There’s at least that much in common among us.
It’s impossible to predict how it will end, of course. After all, It’s always possible that circumstances external to the conflict will defuse the situation somehow. It’s also quite possible that the SJW left will commit suicide. The latest batch of radicals don’t really hesitate to go after the previous batch of radicals because they weren’t woke enough.
But if we don’t wan’t to rely solely on luck, then we need to start tearing down their institutions and building our own.
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