The Red-Blue Divorce is Happening
The United States of America is done.
You can’t have a working democratic nation when the population is divided into two camps who can’t even agree on what a free and fair election looks like.
It simply doesn’t work.
And trying to pretend otherwise runs the very real risk of the former USA descending into a civil war that will destabilize the entire planet.
The facts are brutal, but compelling:
- The majority of the people who voted for Trump in 2020 — 74 million people comprising 47% of voters nationwide and a majority in 25 of 50 states — falsely believe him to be the legitimate President of the United States.
- Around 2/3 of of these voters believe Biden only took office because of voter fraud.
- Almost 3/4 of these voters think the result was tainted by substantial voter fraud.
- Republican-controlled states around the country are enacting laws designed to make Trump’s attempts to overturn the election actually work next time.
- These states include Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — all states Trump won in 2016 but narrowly lost in 2020 and that will probably decide the 2024 Election.
- These same states are also enacting laws to restrict voting rights in order to combat the disproved fraud allegations from 2020. Multiple independent observers, including well-regarded scholars of democracy, assess these efforts to be specifically designed to discourage turnout in regions where Biden won by a wide margin.
- Biden’s margin in the electoral college was secured by around 44,000 votes spread across Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin — less than half a percentage point. The Democrats dramatically under-performed in the Senate and House in 2020, leading to an almost perfect 50–50 split that makes substantial legislation difficult if not impossible.
- The party nominally in power in the United States almost always loses ground in the next election cycle unless it can score major public wins or — in the case of George W. Bush — plunge the country into a major war.
Because the majority of Republican voters reject the legitimacy of the Biden Administration, Republican politicians are in a position where if they don’t obstruct his agenda, they will be punished by their own voters.
This is a clear sign that the situation has crossed a key threshold — America’s political system is now driving its own collapse.
American politicians may be craven hacks for the most part, but that doesn’t mean they don’t respond to incentives. And with the rise of for-profit social media, political crowdfunding, and zero meaningful campaign finance laws, a devastating feedback loop has formed where the more extreme your content, the more popular and powerful you can become.
The collapse of a big, complex thing like the United States federal government doesn’t come all in a day like they make it seem in the history books.
Instead, it proceeds as a steady drip-drip-drip pattern of warning signs that add up until they start to grow exponentially. The moment of fracture seems sudden, but just like clashing tectonic plates the tension ratchets up until a threshold is crossed — and at that point, the process can’t be reversed.
America is there now.
For decades Americans have been segregating themselves from one another at the local and regional levels in what has been called the Big Sort.
Red and Blue America no longer have much in common. On a host of social, economic, and political issues Democratic and Republican voters can no longer find common ground.
Voting rights is only the most recent — but it is also the most important.
Because if you don’t have collective trust in the democratic process, you don’t have a country — just a cold civil war doomed to escalate into something worse in the wake of a big enough crisis.
The view that the other side only wins elections by cheating has been spreading for years on both sides of the divide. And whatever the actual truth or the moral position you personally prefer, the simple fact remains:
If you can’t agree on elections, democracy can’t exist.
And without democracy, what’s the point of a country?
The United States of America is in the process of getting a divorce. Nothing short of World War 3, alien invasion, or a wave of political assassinations can stop it now — and those, like the Covid pandemic, might even only accelerate the split.
Because as the following maps show, it has already gone extremely far.
Most states are controlled by trifectas — one party is in charge at all levels of state government, House, Senate, and Governor.
Even more state Houses and Senates are under total and durable control of one party or the other.
At the Presidential level, the map is almost the same — with Georgia and Arizona being the critical exceptions.
Naturally, they are at the center of the ongoing efforts to “review” the election results.
If the 2024 Election were a re-run, the Democrats would already lose ground thanks to the Census results.
If through voter suppression, a decline in Democratic enthusiasm, or state legislature overrides of the vote count the Republicans can claw back .5% of the vote in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin, they win.
The Republican Party knows this, and is in the grips of an effective secessionist movement that seeks to control the federal government so it can be gutted and rendered incapable of being used to tell the Red States of America what to do. Red State voters are okay with this.
The Democratic Party has by contrast become the party of the status quo — which was never particularly popular given the abysmal approval ratings most consistently Americans give Congress. But it is also paradoxically the party of progressive change, because of the disastrous nature of the two-party system.
So no matter what the Democratic leadership does, it finds itself caught in a trap where it can never satisfy its own membership entirely but every action it takes inflames the grievances of Republicans who believe Democrats don’t respect their values.
And the Republicans, with Trump still largely in control, have every incentive to block anything Biden does and ensure he is a one-term president. Republicans only win if Trump is on the ballot to boost turnout, so they are bound to him and his false claims of electoral fraud.
For almost ten years now a dangerous movement has been growing in the United States rooted in the failure of America’s leaders to take care of their people. In real economic terms, half of Americans hover at the edge of poverty while working multiple jobs a the same time a lucky hundredth see their fortunes double every time a celebrity investor posts on Reddit.
1/3 of American’s don’t vote. 1/3 are Democrats disproportionately clustered in urban areas and the coasts. The remaining 1/3 are Republicans who refuse to accept any interpretation of the Constitution as their own — and they have money to spend on political donations.
America is gone. It’s over. The question now is how the formal political divorce ultimately goes down — and if Americans decide to have a war over it.
Fortunately, only a third or so of Republicans at most are willing to consider violence. That means they’re badly outnumbered by those who think the election was fraudulent but don’t countenance actual fighting over it.
What’s more, so many factors favor the Republicans in the coming election cycles Republicans won’t need substantial violence to win.
Without killing the filibuster, the Biden Administration has no way to roll back the voting restrictions spreading across the Red States. But the hell of a 50/50 Senate is that Joe Manchin, who is Democratic Party anomaly representing the very reddest of Red States, West Virginia, runs the show.
And his position on the filibuster couldn’t be more clear: he won’t let it go, because it would rip the country apart.
That’s probably true at this point, too.
Of course, here’s the rub — the country is already being ripped apart. The centrist policy of hanging on to the status quo for dear life doesn’t work when the Titanic has already smashed into the iceberg.
This won’t change Joe Manchin’s mind, though — if necessary, he will preserve his political future by going Independent, possibly making a run at President in 2024. So unless some other Republican crosses the aisle, the filibuster stays.
That means Joe Biden’s success as President will be limited to, at best, a paltry watered-down bipartisan infrastructure bill and a critically weakened social welfare program pushed through the Senate under reconciliation. By 2022 his legislative window closes and all attention will have turned to the Midterms, and Biden is a lame duck.
Barring a miracle, the Democrats lose the House in 2022. Even if they outperform in the Senate and win a majority that doesn’t depend on Manchin, the filibuster remains a lightning rod capable of sparking a conflict.
If the House falls, Biden’s last two years will be mired in manufactured scandal and revenge investigations. He might even resign to give Harris a straight run at the nomination and two years to do nothing but campaign and hope that’s enough to beat a brutal wave of voter suppression in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Phoenix, Milwaukee, and Detroit.
I doubt it, because that’s not how men of Biden’s generation operate.
And whatever happens, given the laws the Republicans are passing in the swing states where they have control that will allow the legislature or judges to override the will of the voters if allegations of fraud are made, the Democrats face extremely grim odds in 2024.
Having made the claim that the 2020 election was about democracy but coming away with little to show for it, they can’t expect to do the same in 2024 and succeed.
The last few elections have shown that the Democrats and Republicans are in a perpetual scrimmage, each shoving the other a few feet in either direction in an almost predictable see-saw pattern. Trump’s ability to survive every scandal and Biden’s almost immovable lukewarm poll numbers that almost perfectly match his performance in 2020 do not bode well for the Democrats in the future.
Which is probably why Donald Trump was not installed in 2020 as he wanted to be.
Any sane Republican looking at the election results, after having four years to pack the federal courts with partisan judges and turning out a historic number of Republican voters and forcing the Democrats to run a weak centrist and actually substantially improving the GOP share of the Latino and Black vote (surprise surprise, no demographic is homogeneous), was ecstatic in November 2020.
Dumping Trump for four years was a price the GOP leadership was more than willing to pay — and that’s why he fought so hard and had his backers target them too on January 6. He was like a player being cut from the team after winning a championship game — and he beat them.
There is no reason to believe that in 2024, no matter who the Republican candidate is, if they narrowly lose a group of state legislatures will attempt to overturn the result. Ultimately, what the GOP wants above all else is for all Presidential elections to one day be decided by the Contingent Election process, where if an election fails Congress decides who wins— on the basis of one state, one vote.
And because Republicans almost always win more states, they’ll win again.
The Democrats face a no-win situation. If they somehow unite and get rid of the filibuster, pack the Supreme Court, and establish national elections standards, the majority of Republicans will consider the effort the destruction of democracy and very probably revolt. If they don’t, the Republicans can use technically-legal means and partisan courts to crush Democratic hopes in every election.
Which means that the Democrats will face a stark choice: accede to unfair electoral conditions in a total betrayal of their voters, or reject the system.
Either way, the country will divide.
In 1860, it was Blue vs. Grey.
In 2021, it’s Blue vs. Red.
However, that doesn’t mean there will actually be a hot civil war.
Once America’s political leadership finally accepts that the nation has failed, the process of formal legal separation will begin.
I suspect the future looks something like this:
- In January 2025 rival inaugurations are held after an unspeakably bitter election where neither side concedes, the Democrats alleging widespread voter suppression and/or the Republicans insisting on the presence of massive fraud.
- Fearing the nightmare scenario of receiving orders from two competing governments and the potential for conflict within the ranks, the United States military announces it will remain independent, defending America from any foreign attack but refusing to allow units to take part in any domestic actions.
- State governors and governments come under immediate pressure to declare which President they accept. With most Red and Blue states being geographically concentrated and having similar economies, regional multi-state compacts quickly form as few governors want to be seen to act unilaterally and all face some degree of civil unrest.
- The West Coast and Northeast swiftly recognize the Democratic candidate while the Midwest and South go for the Republican. The Rocky Mountain West and Great Lakes regions are less contiguous, and intense pressure falls on governments in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
- In many closely-divided regions scattered violence raises fears of worse conflict to come, as neither the Red nor Blue President refuse to concede, both claiming to be the sole true President of the United States.
- Fearing chaos, European and Asian allies of the United States intervene politically to broker a separation deal that eliminates the threat of a split in the United States military from triggering broader armed conflict. The United States is broken into several different regions, each with the right to take the Constitution as its guiding document and interpret it as its residents prefer.
What does this look like in practice? That is difficult to say.
I have a proposal however, which I have been developing since things began to get dangerous in 2016, that I believe offers the best way forward for everyone:
Split the federal government into separate Constitutional Regions, like so:
The Pacific and Atlantic regions — 125 million people and a combined GDP of over 9.5 Trillion before the pandemic — are the core of Blue America. Southwest and Great Lakes lean Blue, and are home to almost 55 million Americans and $3 Trillion of the national GDP. Blue America contains about 55% of the national population and contributes almost 60% of its GDP.
The Plains, Mountain and Ohio River Regions are the heart of Red America, with 95 million people and a total $5.5 Trillion GDP. The Southeast leans Red but has strong Blue pockets, and is home to the other 55 million Americans with an almost $3 Trillion GDP.
If it came to an actual civil war, Red America would be in a rotten position, particularly given the fact that Blue America is more internationalist and would have allies like the European Union, Canada, and Japan to count on while Red America would have only Russia. While most American Army facilities are located in the Plains and Southeast, the Pacific and Atlantic house the vast majority of the United States Navy and substantial Air Force assets, so a hot civil war would be vicious and destructive.
Rather than risk that, each Region would be allowed to customize its implementation of the Constitution to suit its citizens going forward. In each Region the local two-party system would immediately re-balance as local parties would no longer be so closely bound to a national party infrastructure that doesn’t always represent them very well.
Able to rebrand and focus on meaningful issues in their Region, each party would wind up healthier and saner, the gridlock in D.C. no longer allowing all players to stall for time in hopes that the next election changes the landscape.
Countries around the world are feeling the same pressure to fragment as the United States. It is a sign of the times — and also the fact that technology is making a very new world possible.
The collapse of formerly-stable regimes around the world and the general rise in right wing nationalism everywhere is a warning sign of something major happening across global society.
America is not immune.
Rather than wait for America to collapse catastrophically, a separation of the federal government across these eight natural Regions could and should be done before the next Presidential election takes place to entirely avoid the dangers of the messy breakup outlined above.
A trajectory that could just as easily end not with a mediated political agreement but a divide within the United States military that takes the nation into a true second civil war.
The United States should immediately break up the federal government, reserving only a few basic powers in a supra-national Presidents’ Council with one representative from each American Region.
These powers will be:
- Coordinate the common defense in the event of a foreign military attack
- Guarantee American citizens’ right to move between Regions
- Select the chairs of the Federal Reserve Bank and UN ambassador
- Anything else deliberately delegated to it by the Regions
Each Region will establish its own federal government, inheriting existing local federal assets and all Constitutional responsibilities.
All will have the right to interpret the Constitution and apply it according to the will of their citizens.
None may ever use military force against any other and the United States will still be represented by a single ambassador to the United Nations.
But aside from that, each Region will be free to set federal policy as they please. This will include foreign relations outside the United Nations, and each Region will maintain a defense force carrying on the traditions of the United States military.
A decentralized federal government is the only way to manage a continent-sized country with very real regional differences in culture that are making it impossible for the existing federal structure to continue.
Barring the unlikely emergence of a viable third party and a non-profit media ecosystem capable of using data to bring out the best in people, the United States is done for.
The sooner Americans accept the truth and begin the process of formal separation, the better. Denial leads to the same end state — only a lot more people will die in the process.