Americans, probably like everyone in the West, just assume that the shape of our countries will remain the same forever. Conquest is something you read about, but that’s all in the past so the map will stay the same forever. Similarly, we tend to think that revolution is no longer a part of civilized life. The savages have revolts maybe, but the civilized countries have elections to sort out problems.
Of course, maps are not written in stone. There’s no reason to think that France will stay the same shape forever. The people of Normandy could decide they have had enough of being French and break off to form their own country. The people of Catalan are trying to do just that by voting for independence and then going to court over it.
But, those Spanish are hot blooded and all that. The English speaking countries don’t have those problems, other than in Scotland, Wales and Quebec. Even so, these are more symbolic than anything else. There are protests, votes, court cases, more votes, but that’s it. No tanks in the streets or men with guns preparing for the revolution, because violent revolts are things of the past.
What if they’re not? What if the Scots and English can’t resolve their differences peacefully? What then?
On the other hand, what if the people in charge keep going down the road they are going and the people finally get fed up enough to do something about it? In the US we have protests at the Mall, but never anything serious, at least not for a long time. But what if we’re just overdue and things are slowly coming to a head and revolution is just around the corner?
There’s a new book that argues the US is long overdue for a revolt and the current consensus is breaking apart, suggesting the revolt is right around the corner. James Piereson is a think tank guy at a fancy think tank called the Manhattan Institute. His book is one of those “theory of the world” sort of things where he has this theory that explains parts of the past. He then uses it to make some predictions about what’s coming next.
I’ve never written a book review and I have no intention of starting now, so you can read this one or you can read this one. There’s also a podcast here with the author. As an aside, I suspect the future of book selling is going to be podcasts. A thirty minute discussion of a book is a great way to sell books.
Anyway, I’m not entirely sold on the thesis. My own view of US history is as an extension of the English Civil War. For instance, Piereson argues that a consensus emerged in 1800, but the New England states were ready to split from the Union up until the outbreak of war with Britain. Similarly, those same states would have signed off on the slave states seceding if not for the foolish assault on Fort Sumter.
Putting that aside, one can’t help but wonder if we are headed for a crackup of some sort. If you look at the map of recent presidential elections something jumps out. That is, very few states are actually in play now. In 2016, the fight will be over Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. The rest are firmly in the Roundhead or Cavalier camps. For the candidates, the only reason to campaign in most states is to raise money and put on a show for the folks in the toss-up states.
The chaos in the GOP primary is mostly due to the fact that no one really represents the sensibilities of the regions that support the GOP. Bush is from Florida, but he may as well be from Boston. Rubio is from Florida, but the part wholly unlike the rest of Florida. The only two candidates that represent the GOP regions are Kasich and Huckabee and both have too many other problems to be serious candidates. Trump is from New York and it has never been in the Roundhead or Cavalier camp. Otherwise, the people running are foreigners to their voters.
Having the country divided into camps is one thing. Having one camp ramming through stuff just to spite the other is where things get dicey. The crazy ObamaCare bill was mostly spite. Homo marriage was entirely spite. The revolt brewing on the Right is really a revolt among the troops over their leaders refusal to fight. Students of the Crisis of the Third Century are familiar with this phenomenon. At some point, there will be a fight, whether it is with these leaders or new, more rambunctious ones.
The thing few notice because the people in charge tend to keep it quiet is the Roundheads would not mind it if the other part of the country seceded. Progressives hate the South and southerners with the intensity of a thousand suns. For a long time now, Progressives have been thinking, if you will, that it is time for the South to leave the Union. For obvious reasons this does not get promoted by the people in charge, but a lot of them hold this opinion.
The assumption, an incorrect one, is that the Old Confederacy along with Texas and Oklahoma would be cut loose, while the rest of the states would make up the slimmer and trimmer United States. Reality is probably something else. Look at that map and the lands of the Roundhead are mostly Yankeedom. The few other blue states would mostly likely go with the red states for practical reasons.
But, maybe the southern states will insist on marching from Worcester Mass to Boston, burning everything along the way, just for old time sake.