This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis.
Many in blue states have gone through a Kubler-Ross range of emotional reactions to the Trump/Republican administration. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. When you get to the acceptance part, a psychologist told me, “You need to figure out a plan of action that changes things in the real world. Acceptance is not the same as resignation. Being bummed out is not the end of the road but should be a beginning.” We are probably at that political point now. I know I am.
After all we have been through, after the last four years of Trump’s antics, he still has the support of a little over 40 percent of the electorate. His base fervently foresees that life post-Trump will resemble a Stalinist gulag of socialist regulation, late-term baby killing, and political correctness equal to China’s cultural revolution. Right-wing media, in all its hydra-headed broadcast and internet forms, has provided this vision. As QAnon has shown, when it comes to irrationality, there are no limits.
The discussion of civil war is even out in the open. Veteran journalist Elizabeth Drew recently examined the possibility; “Trump has been encouraging violence since he first ran for office, and he doesn’t convincingly eschew it now,” she noted. Indeed. Militias fantasize about using their guns during any post-Election Day chaos. In Michigan, in a move reminiscent of John Brown’s raid, a precurser to the real Civil War, militia members were charged with plotting a violent overthrow of the state government. Shootings, like the recent one in Denver after a far-right confrontation with protesters, are now commonplace. Even the President alluded to an impending call-to-arms when he asked the Proud Boys to “stand by.” “Stand by” for what is the question.
What to do? As in a marriage that’s been bad for decades, perhaps divorce should be considered. Out of respect and courtesy to unshakeable Trumpers, perhaps they should take their highly developed alternate reality and set up their own country. They have my blessings. They can broadcast Fox News, Rush and OANN 24/7 while firewalling everything else.
We have historical precedent for this. At the birth of our republic, those who believed in the King of England and the monarchy chose to leave the colonies and live in other countries. They went to the Bahamas, Canada, and of course, back to England. Loyalists who made the choice early were free to leave. The takeaway: Early and voluntary separation is the better way to go.
What would a mutually agreed parting look like? To get the hypotheticals going, I can map out one scenario.
Like Brexit, it starts with a referendum. All 50 states get to vote to align with either red or blue. Then a negotiation begins on the terms of the split. Items to be covered: cross border trade, federal debt repayments, customs duties, etc. After that is settled a period for a population swap is agreed to. Say five years. That should be enough time to find a new job, housing and relocate to the other side … if you seem to find yourself in the wrong color state.
Like-minded people have sorted themselves into the same zip codes for quite a while now, according to Bill Bishop, author of the 2008 bestseller “The Big Sort: How the Clustering of America is Tearing us Apart.” As I see it, Americans have already self- gerrymandered. An official red/blue separation is not entirely far-fetched.
Imagine the joy a Catskill NY hamlet-dwelling, Confederate flag waving denizen will experience relocating to the Ozarks where everyone is like them. Think of the inner peace a person of color teaching gender studies at a college in Idaho will feel when they relocate to Cambridge Mass, where no one will look at them twice. Think of all the available time better spent than wondering (with the accompanying head shaking) how their neighbor could be so backwards-thinking as to support Trump or Biden. The decreased existential dread experienced while absorbing the daily news may add years to the relocated lives.
Many couples are happier after a divorce. They go on to start new lives, explore new possibilities. A split-up red/blue America may just be that couple. Both may be far more contented basking in the policies and people they believe in and want to be around. If it can be done amicably, future Thanksgivings with the relatives will be much less stressful.
Jonathan Russo has been an executive in the New York media world for 40 years and has written about politics, economics, foreign policy and cultural issues for over a decade. His work has appeared in The HuffPost, Observer, Daily News, Times of Israel, Worth.com, Real Clear Markets and Real Clear World.