Opinion | A ‘national divorce’ is a terrible idea

With the increased polarization of politics in America, the talk of a divorce between red and blue states has increased.


Peter Anders, Opinions Contributor

Political polarization is at a historical high. It is quite easy to argue that short of the Civil War, America is in the worst shape it has ever been in, and more divided than any time since then. From this environment, what used to be treated as a ludicrous and outlandish idea has been gaining traction in far-right politics: secession, or a “national divorce.”

The concept of national divorce has been talked about by far-right politicians such as  Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. It is the idea that conservative states should separate and form their own government. This was somewhat what happened in the American Civil War — yet, some people feel not only are we on the cusp of a second civil war, but also somewhat seem to desire it.

According to a recent survey by the Center of Politics at the University of Virginia, 50 percent of people who voted for former President Donald Trump and 40 percent of people who voted for President Joe Biden in 2016 think that the country should split in two. This is an alarming amount by any stretch of the imagination.

Not only is the very mere thought of this “un-American,” but it is also impossible. States are not simply red and blue. Many cities in some of the most Republican-leaning states in the country, such as Austin, Texas, vote for Democrats by a wide margin. If separation in the same vein as the Civil War was to occur, would those cities essentially be trapped and surrounded by “the enemy?”

Not everyone in these states votes the same way. Arizona voted predominantly for Republicans for decades until 2020, and many people used to consider it an entirely conservative state. Swing states, such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, especially would be in a particularly confusing spot in this scenario.

Trends and circumstances have also changed what constitutes a purple state.  Iowa, Ohio, and Florida were once considered competitive purple states, but are now leaning firmly Republican. 

Even beyond the fact such an idea would be impossible, the consequences would be enormous if it happened. As pointed out in an opinion piece by the New York Post, a separated America would make for the perfect targets for foreign entities like Russia, China, and any other actors who would want to take advantage of the destabilization.

The idea of a red state secession contributes to further polarization because it contributes to the idea that people who are on the opposite end of the political spectrum are other or lesser. The idea that we are a single, united country, becomes further from reality the more these ideas are put into the mainstream political discourse.

Decades of increasing political polarization brought about by those who profit from it are inevitably leading to a divided America.

The solution to this is to return to having and encouraging civil discourse. People on both ends of the political spectrum need to sit down and talk, and realize it is okay to disagree. Compromise and debate are not bad things. But that is not what we are having, and we have not had it since the Cold War. Separation and talk of it will not only help fix that, but it will worsen it. 

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.