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Is Secession Really Possible?

Photo by Caleb Fisher on Unsplash

Last updated on January 5, 2023

With the escalation of chaos that arrives with the Mar-a-Lago papers and approaching midterms, it’s conceivable at times that the United States might just – break in half. The University of Virginia Center of Politics reports that 41% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans support secession to some extent. Extremists on both sides, in particular, champion secession. Such sentiments raise the questions: should we expect a split in the near future? What does support for secession mean for America? 

This trend has been especially highlighted alongside Republican challenges to election legitimacy. Republican opposition to extremists has referenced the Civil War, as demonstrated in Liz Cheney’s remarks during her recent Wyoming election concession speech. Cheney chided Trump and stated that her “Great Task” was to resist him in the election investigation. This statement draws language from the Gettysburg Address. Cheney then compared herself to Lincoln, who lost many elections “before he won the most important election of all.” Beyond Cheney’s questionable comparison, her allusions point to the all-too-familiar partisan tensions many sense today.

Aside from public desires, is splitting the States possible in the first place? Not really. First, there is a lack of clear-cut geographical division regarding political leaning: politics aren’t separated by North vs. South in the 21st century. States include many populations with distinct political leanings. And, threats of secession are made only by private actors – not governmental institutions, as they were in the 19th century.

If secession occurred, it would undermine the many economic and social benefits of interstate migration. Additionally, fracturing would undoubtedly develop into a national security issue. According to Foreign Policy, “America’s unique advantage has been its status as the only great power in the Western Hemisphere and thus, the only ‘regional hegemon’ in modern political history.”

Even the popularity of secession as a concept is dangerous and indicates the unhealthy state of American democracy today. Many have given up on sensible solutions. Threats of secession are increasingly made, as politicians know they create fear within the opposite party to not cross a certain “threshold.” Calls for secession should be calmly dismantled rather than met with panic.

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