This month, Senator Cruz and Michael Knowles brought their podcast, Verdict with Ted Cruz, to Texas A&M University. During the Q&A session, the topic of Texas secession came up. Before the questioner had even finished talking, applause erupted in favor of the proposition. This is not entirely shocking. A recent University of Virginia study found that 52 percent of Trump voters and 41 percent of Biden voters support a national divorce, and political commentators on the left and right have suggested that we solve our disunity once and for all, by splitting up into separate nations based on political alignment. Yet as Senator Cruz responded, “I’m not ready to give up on America. I love this country,” the same crowd that just celebrated secession cheered and applauded his answer.
It makes little sense that one would cheer the destruction of his country and then moments later voice his love for it. We certainly wouldn’t have heard such a contradiction among secessionists in the 1860s. But, of course, it’s only a contradiction if the calls for secession are legitimately believed. If the call for a national divorce is just an incendiary, ill-conceived way to express political frustrations, then this apparent contradiction is exactly what we would expect. Of course, that’s exactly what this is. And it must stop.
Besides the shortsightedness of enacting an effectively irreversible fix to our temporary political divisions, proposals for a national divorce fail to consider that the solution to our elevated political tensions lies within the original federalist structure of the government.
When drafting the Constitution, the Framers intended to allow state and local governments to retain the power to make laws to benefit their residents’ health and welfare. In fact, the Framers only gave the federal government the power to create legislation addressing certain issues. In practice, this meant that laws varied state by state, as each legislature enacted policies to fit with the preferences of their given constituents. However, the national government began gradually destroying the federalist structure of our government. By expanding Congress’ regulatory powers, the federal government began to force its policies on the states. As the power of state governments continued to be usurped by the federal government, our political battles became increasingly nationalized. Since state governments have a diminished ability to enact laws serving the needs of their constituents, voters turn their ire towards Washington, leading to our current contentious political climate.
If we want to take serious action to solve political polarization in the United States, the solution isn’t divorce, but returning to the Framers’ vision of a federalist republic.
Diversity of thought, ideas, and the ability of states to craft their own legislation based on their constituent’s will is a strength of the United States’ constitutional system, not a weakness. The vast range of political opinions held by American citizens allows endless possibilities for debate and experiment within the states and, where it is appropriate, at the federal level. Some ideas may fail, others may work and become popular. But the fights over these ideas become ever more bitter when the stakes are always federalized.
While Democrats and Republicans do have increasingly different ideas of what America should look like, this competition of ideas should be encouraged. A national divorce is simply an idea of hyper-partisan individuals who would rather not have their own political ideas challenged. If you think that your political opponents have such outlandish ideas, you shouldn’t need to split the country in order to render their agenda obsolete. Instead, go out and beat them at the polls.
The national divorce that is seen by some as a solution would only make matters far worse. Our nation split in two would not solve anything. Instead, we would simply see more rifts within each party. The republican party would only become more divided between the populist wing and more mainstream conservatives, whereas the Democrats would encounter the same divide between progressives and mainstream liberals. There will always be division within the United States, but there are better ways to bring us together than giving in to the rift.
Lest vast swaths of the American populace go off destroying that which has led to so much blessing, remember first that “Conservatism starts from the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed but not easily created.” Those who would throw the union into the wind in a fit of frustration with our current federal government forget that the current, democratically elected federal government is just a current, democratically-elected government. The opportunity will come soon enough to change the composition of government as it always has, even in our most desperate hour of raw civil war.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.