Is the Great Divide already under way? RR readers are familiar with the Great Divide discussion in these pages (RR search ‘great divide’). The basis for the idea of a structural change in these United States is an old one, one that is provided for by our Constitution, and one that was in lively national discussion even before The War for Southern Independence (aka The Civil War). Today the debate has again become compelling due to the seemingly irreconcilable polarization between the factions of the Left and those of the Right.
One ‘solution’, to the indisputable fact that both sides live in their own universe, is a peaceful separation of the two cohorts into a confederated assembly of the current states. One that would enable open practice of limited government, Founders’ constitutionality, fiscal prudence, and free markets. The other would continue the current collectivist path to socialism and whatever may follow that folly. The actual division of territories is among the several problems that need a good-faith dialogue to solve peaceably.
Another and perhaps more serious problem is the asymmetry with which both sides view the Great Divide. The people on the Right see themselves in a growing bondage of restraints, constraints, unlimited taxation, and loss of liberties. Their general response is ‘let us go our own way.’ The Left’s general response is ‘oh no you don’t!’, the direct implication being that they would then very quickly run out of OPM, the fuel that always powers progressivism.
But for completeness, I have to add that there are a few progressives who firmly believe that their social order does not need money from other people; they can generate the necessary wealth themselves. In fact, some of them even claim that it is the Left that is generating the country’s wealth and dragging along the worthless Right. (Such progressives should be complemented for their keen insight, and the conversation taken to the next stage of how the Great Divide can remove from them the burden of having to carry the Right.)
A useful path toward the Great Divide is the re-establishment of states’ rights. Removing such constitutional rights from the states has been a proto-progressive passion at least from the time of Lincoln. Many recognize that the expansion of the Interstate Commerce Act (1887) and central banking (Federal Reserve 1913) have been the prime tools for reducing states to administrative districts of a strong federal government.
Today a last bastion of states’ rights is how they divide themselves into ‘right to work’ and ‘forced union’ states. For all intents and purposes this already is a step toward the Great Divide, with the proviso that, if properly handled, such a divide may not even be necessary. But here’s the rub. The Left is lying to all ignorant enough to believe them that not forcing workers to join unions is actually denying workers their rights. This twisted logic is one of the insane pillars upon which collectivism proudly stands.
The hope here is that most Americans have yet to join the ranks of the entitled sheeple, and will see that such union tactics benefit neither them nor the nation. In the interval Obama’s administration and the Democrats are throwing the National Labor Relations Board into the breach to tell Boeing where it can and cannot build its airplanes. This is a first, and would mark a giant step forward in the socialization of America. And, of course, it further motivates those of us on the Right to permanently shed the looney tunes and merrie melodies of the Left.
My feeling is that this is just the beginning of such debates as the Right-leaning states begin to flex their atrophied muscles. What will power the division is the fiscal hurricane that will soon sweep the land. Citing an avalanche of references, Mauldin and Tepper (Endgame) point out that we are past the tipping point. Most of the world’s governments are in terrible fiscal shape and have only “bad and worse choices” consisting of inflate, default, or devalue (a form of inflation). These governments, including the US, “simply lack the ability to fulfill” their debt, entitlement, and pension obligations.
Having passed the tipping point, the only unknown is how we will hit bottom. Will it be a repeat of Weimar 1923, Brazil 1999, Argentina 2001, Iceland 2008, or something more draconian that involves restructuring the government or the nation itself? The known part is that both the Right and the Left will do all they can to convince Americans that it was the other side that caused all the damage, and that fundamental changes to governance must be made if we are to avert a similar disaster. And depending on the extent of the damage, one of those changes might well be a form of The Great Divide.