The Compass of Power, Episode XIV
Let’s talk about the Tweet that made “Civil War” a trending topic in America – again!
And let me acknowledge Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for bringing the whole thing up, because this is right in my wheelhouse. Thanks for elevating the topic… I guess. Not everyone is happy.
We already talked about the New Civil War in other episodes. A specialty here at the Compass of Power. We’re going to go over it again. We’re gonna talk about what’s happening in the United States, whether it is a new civil war and whether, as Greene said, we need a national divorce.
First, what she said.
Greene, R- Ga on Monday, Presidents Day, tweeted the following:
“We need a national divorce. We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government. Everyone I talk to says this. From the sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies, we are done.”Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene
That was clearly designed to get some attention, and it did. Given the microphone, Greene laid it on. Talking to Charlie Kirk, she explained how the South could stop liberals from taking over.
“Red states can choose in how they allow people to vote in their states,” she said.
“What I think would be something that some red states could propose is: well, okay, if Democrat voters choose to flee these blue states where they cannot tolerate the living conditions, they don’t want their children taught these horrible things, and they really change their mind on the types of policies that they support, well once they move to a red state, guess what, maybe you don’t get to vote for five years.
“You can live there, and you can work there, but you don’t get to bring your values that you basically created in the blue states you came from by voting for Democrat leaders and Democrat policies.”
Not quite done, in a Tuesday interview Sean Hannity, Greene did a great impersonation of a lawyer implying exactly the opposite of what her words literally meant.
“The last thing I ever want to see in America is a civil war,” she said. “But it’s going that direction, and we have to do something about it.”
Then everybody had to say something about what she said.
Charlie Sykes, a guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, said “we’ve made the transition from sedition to secession.”
The New Republic wrote, “Her borderline seditious rhetoric is made all the more frightening by the fact that Greene sits on several powerful committees in the House of Representatives, including the Oversight and Homeland Security.”
A couple headlines:
Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Outright Talking About Civil War Now
‘Sick, divisive, alarming’: White House condemns Marjorie Taylor Greene’s call to split US between red and blue states (yahoo.com)
Utah Republicans got in on the act. Gov. Spencer Cox said, “This rhetoric is destructive and wrong and — honestly — evil. We don’t need a divorce, we need marriage counseling. And we need elected leaders that don’t profit by tearing us apart. We can disagree without hate. Healthy conflict was critical to our nation’s founding and survival.”
Mitt Romney called the concept of a national divorce “insanity,” and referred to Marjorie Taylor Greene as the “loony right.”
Is anyone really feeling Civil War-ish?
The public may be further out than mainstream politicians. A June 2021 poll by Bright Line Watch and YouGov found 66 percent of Republicans in the South supported leaving the U.S. and forming a new country. Democrats in the West were very nearly in support, with 47 percent backing the same notion.
And it should be noted that talk about secession pre-dated the actual Civil War by decades. That is, long before actual shots were fired, threats and insults flew in Congress.
Forget DC. Here are some differences in the types of laws being debated in the North and South right now, taken from Plurbis News, a new state-level site.
Abortion: Democratic governors in 20 states (only one of whom is Southern, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper) will launch a national network aimed at boosting abortion access. The Reproductive Freedom Alliance will share model bill language and executive orders, funded by the California Wellness Foundation and the Rosenberg Foundation.
The South Carolina House passed a bill that bans abortion from conception with exceptions for rape, incest, fatal fetal anomaly and the mother’s health.
GenBioPro, a pharmaceutical company that makes an abortion pill, has filed suit against West Virginia’s ban on abortion medication, the first of a likely wave of litigation challenging state bans. The suit argues the FDA’s approval of the pill supersedes state law.
Immigration: Twenty Republican attorneys general sued the Biden Administration over new immigration rules that would admit 30,000 people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela each month. Republicans said the plan, Biden’s most assertive effort to stem a tide of migrants, oversteps the administration’s authority.
Paid Leave: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is set to sign a bill giving workers paid time off for sick or family leave. While 14 states have paid sick leave policies, the Illinois bill will not require employees to offer a reason for their absences.
The Minnesota House has approved a bill providing workers with an hour of paid time off for every 30 hours they work.
North Dakota’s Senate blocked two bills backed by Gov. Kristi Noem (R) that would have expanded paid family leave.
Sexual identity (and sports): The Minnesota House has approved a ban on so-called conversion therapy.
Indiana’s House Education Committee has watered down legislation modeled on Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” bill. The Indiana bill now requires teachers to inform parents when their children change gender identities.
The Missouri Senate Emerging Issues Committee has approved a bill restricting gender-related care for minors.
Arkansas’s Senate Education Committee approved a bill restricting transgender people from using a bathroom of their choice at public schools.
The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill banning gender-affirming care.
The North Dakota state House approved bills barring transgender girls and women from both K-12 sports and college sports.
Wyoming Senate has passed a bill barring transgender athletes from participating in sports leagues that align with their gender identities.
Guns: Washington lawmakers have kept alive bills prohibiting the sale or transfer of semi-automatic rifles; mandating gun safety training through a permit-to-purchase program; and holding gunmakers liable in some cases of harm.
Colorado lawmakers are likely to pass a bill rolling back extra protections against lawsuits targeting gun and ammunition manufacturers and sellers.
The Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Monday approved a permit less carry bill.
Taken all together, that’s not a war – but it is a country moving in two different directions at once. This is the polarization that we talk about. Did you notice the pattern?
Let me tell you what is really going on. The Compass of Power is moving.
The center of power – where the voters are, and where their money is – has been shifting South for two generations now.
Based on the 2020 Census, Texas will get two more seats in Congress this decade.
Florida and North Carolina will each get one more.
The number of seats in Congress is fixed. So who will lose the seats the South is gaining?
California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania all will lose seats in the House.
New York used to be the most populous state — back in 1960.
After the 2010 Census, it was No. 3.
Now it’s No. 4 — fourth! Behind who?
Let’s just sit with that for a second. There are more people in the state with the Everglades than there are in the state with the Empire State Building.
The top three states in the country are California, Texas and Florida.
Those also happen to be three of the most racially and ethnically diverse states in America. But Texas and Florida are deep, deep red. They are conservative places. They are Republican places.
Again, it’s pretty simple.
They are southern places. Today, right now, Southernism, Republicanism and Conservatism have all merged. What it means to be any one is just about the same as what it means to be the other two.
Likewise, to be liberal — especially to be “progressive” — to be a Democrat and to be a northernern are all defined by the same things.
In a democracy, the power comes from the people. And the people are moving south. That is creating a seismic shift in American politics. Because people don’t usually bring their politics with them. They adapt to their political environment.
Think about it — has a surging population made Texas liberal? Turned Washington state red?
I remember in the 90s when I lived in Idaho, they were convinced that all the Californians moving in going to turn the state blue. And that was before we called democratic states blue.
It didn’t happen.
What this shift in the center of the population has done is make people like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Texas Governor Greg Abbot and Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee national Republican figures.
And it’s made people like Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and New York Governor Kathy Hochul household names – if your household is especially liberal.
Now, whenever we talk about North versus South, we have a slight problem – the West was not fully integrated into US government and politics at the time of the Civil War.
Today we see a pattern in which the dry West states, the states that require irrigated farming essentially, Are part of the southern coalition. Think Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming the Dakotas.
The West Coast meanwhile was founded by Yankees. Descendants of the puritan culture of New England settled the port cities of the West Coast, giving us the modern blue states of California, Oregon and Washington.
That’s why Dry Western states like North Dakota are looking to bar transgender people from both K-12 and college sports.
That’s why Coastal Western states like California have some of the most restrictive firearms regulations in the nation.
With that geography in mind, I think the whole “national divorce” kerfuffle makes more sense.
First, why would a member of Congress talk about splitting up the country?
The answer is look where she’s from. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is from northern Georgia the Appalachian section of Georgia.
I think we talk about the Appalachians in every episode of this podcast because they are having a moment now in politics. They’ve spent a long time as the redheaded stepchildren of American cultures. Hillbillies, rednecks, and so forth.
But the Appalachians are dominant along the mountains from which they get their name and stretch far into the North. they are essentially a warrior culture, founded by refugees from the border wars of England Scotland and Ireland in the 18th century.
They are less committed to social hierarchy than the Deep South. And they are less concerned with moral aspirationalism than the Yankees. What they really care about is fighting off outside intrusions, outsiders in general and winning above all.
As you’ve heard me say before I believe it was Donald trump’s instinct to motivate that group with his tough talk and belligerent style that allowed him to win the White House by carrying the South and northern states like Wisconsin and Michigan.
Greene is from that culture, and she is playing by that cultural rule book. she’s already known for grabbing headlines and thereby raising her profile and money and the same style that Donald Trump had.
And simply by irritating everyone she is showing her hometown voters that she is doing what she was elected to do, which was tell everybody else where they can stick it.
The “national divorce” comment specifically is designed to get attention, but by framing it as a way to protect her people from the malicious influence of northerners (AKA liberals and wokeism) She remains in a fairly safe spot with her constituents.
Never forget that virtually the entire nation’s media complex is based in New York City and Hollywood CA, neither of which is very friendly towards Appalachia or the Deep South.
That doesn’t mean everyone from Appalachia is ready to break up the union or to say crazy things. It just means that a person from Appalachia can be both a safe politician and the loudest voice on these sorts of topics.
Second, why all the sound and fury about a tweet from a known attention-seeker?
Did you notice that when Greene said we need a national divorce everyone knew it implied like breaking along North and South lines again?
Even though the national pundit machine does not tend to look at things as a North versus South issue, The map of Red States and Blue States very clearly tells us that talking about separating by those code words means the same thing as separating along “1861 lines.”
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough – who is from Georgia and Florida – called the Blue States “donor states” to the Red States, singling out the likes of West Virginia and Texas as places the liberal states “take care of.”
Another way of saying that is “rich, prosperous Yankees have floated your lazy, poor Southern asses long enough!”
This would not be such an issue if the North were indisputably in control. However, the national government has been steadily slipping away from the North for more than a generation now, going back to the 1960s.
After the Civil Rights Act, the Southern elite abandoned the Democratic Party over the course of a generation. The 1994 Republican Revolution was led by Georgian Appalachian Newt Gingrich.
That brought the eventual presidency of Texan George Bush, whose wars laid the groundwork for a Barack Obama win in 2008 … which in turn set up the revenge of the deplorables with Trump’s win in 2016.
That tipping of the balance of power toward the South is how you get the kind of political anxiety that has everyone weighing in on comments like Greenes’.
A lot of people look at the January 6th storming of the Capitol as either a failed attempt by the South to overthrow the government or, less radically, as a test case for how detached from reality social-media based conservatism has become.
Third, the Compass of Power explains Greene’s whole “wait to vote” concept
Just like my Idaho neighbors 30 years ago, plenty of southerners feel that the influx of people from outside is going to remake their communities in the mold of where ever the immigrants are coming from.
A) as I’ve already said, that doesn’t happen. Always, always think about place in politics.
You have to ask yourself, who is leaving the blue states for the South? Are they Harvard educated socialists from Boston? I don’t think so.
Just as a lot of the people leaving California for Idaho in the 90s we’re not exactly the most liberal people in California, the people packing up from West Virginia or Michigan for Florida may not be the most politically progressive you could get.
They may not be moving out of New York City or Madison WI.
B) think about place when we talk about where they move. Are they moving into the suburbs in the South or are they moving into the relatively small downtowns of the relatively few large cities in the South?
Think about Austin, Texas. By southern standards a very liberal city. And it is growing and that does mean more liberals. Because you adapt to where you live.
Austin however is an exception in Texas. It is not big enough on its own to turn Texas blue.
Greene is from Georgia, which is dominated by Atlanta. And two things there.
Atlanta is big enough to tip Georgia blue.
And Atlanta has a long-standing, hard-working underclass in its Black voters, who have always opposed the ruling class of the South.
To be clear there are black Republicans. And there are Republicans in Atlanta.
However, if Georgia’s economic growth means there are proportionally more people in Atlanta, than in the country, then the underclass will build and oppose the elite more effectively.
That is why critics pointed out Green’s own state might be counted as a “blue state” given that it has two democratic senators.
And that is why Greene is ready to talk about making people wait to vote. And complaining about people moving from blue states to red States and then seeming to want to turn the red states blue.
That does appear to be happening in Georgia and that is the most important thing I can think of and I think about the future of liberalism in the United states
there is the potential that continued economic growth in the South will mean that the underclass, the people who are punching up now, will grow in strength and number sufficiently to take over large parts of the South. And their liberalism will be different than Yankee liberalism.
In the meantime, however, the elites aren’t going to go out without a fight. And Appalachians like Greene, as we have said, were born fighting.
Let’s bring it home – what should we make of the “national divorce” comment?
The traditional thing for people who are not on this screaming left or screaming right side of things to say now is that we need to calm things down. Less social media, more town hall meetings!
I will not offer retrograde advice.
Instead, I will share some advice I once read in a book regarding marriages and divorce.
The first step to avoiding divorce is admitting that it is a possibility.
If you don’t accept that, if you say you will never do it, you’ve narrowed your options dramatically.
You’ve stopped imagining that you could be OK on your own. You are equating divorce with death.
If you say you will never get divorced, you’ve made the other person’s behavior your only path to survival.
The best thing to do is to know you’ll be OK on your own, have that confidence first. Then you can negotiate.
Right now, Greene’s side is losing. That is why they are talking the way they are. They’d rather break up than continue the relationship as the junior partner.
Those of us on the Democratic side, on the Northern side, should not be acting terrified of that position in public.
It’s perfectly just to oppose the idea for good reasons. But the opposition was mostly “how dare she talk that way?”
And we should be asking ourselves, in private, “If we were losing, would we be talking that way?”
If Greene becomes Donald Trump’s vice-presidential running mate, as some people think she will, will we be OK with her as the actual vice president?
What if Florida governor Ron DeSantis is the Republican nominee? Will we threaten to move to Canada if he wins?
What I’m getting at here is that we have to imagine a future where bad things happen. Contemplate the worst, imagine surviving it.
In that way, we can build a future that isn’t actually that bad.
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