Daily we lament the “progressivization” of America: the increasing bias towards short-sighted compassion in policymaking; the weakening of the rule of law in favor of PC witch-hunts and racial-grievance shakedowns; the erosion of the family and personal responsibility; and the rise of a vast, intrusive, mothering state, with dependents proliferating at its teats.
Naturally we wonder what we can do about all this. Should we just do what the opposition does? Should we spread the word, from soap boxes and digital media, about the errors of progressivism? Should we march and demonstrate? Should we energetically “get out the vote” every election? Should we boycott organizations that side with the progressive cause? Should we focus our efforts through political action groups? Maybe we should all write letters to our congressmen and to our local newspapers, to let them know where we stand.
I think we need to admit that none of that will work, in the long run.
Progressives have big advantages in this cultural battle. They have controlled mainstream academia at least since the 1970s, steeping tens of millions of impressionable young minds in their dogmas. Key demographic trends, including high birthrates among immigrants that tend to vote left, and a declining marriage rate among women, favor them heavily.
Moreover, as we know all too well, progressives’ quasi-religious dogmas are ingeniously crafted to suppress opposition. To speak against progressivism is to run the risk of being labeled racist, sexist, or otherwise on the wrong side of history, and then being ostracized and losing one’s job.
The sense that history is on their side also has given progressives a fearless, Bolshevik spirit that enables them to punch above their weight culturally. And, like the Bolsheviks, they have set in motion policies and attitudes that tend to damage society but strengthen their hand, such as feminist policies that alienate men and worsen gender relations, and open immigration policies that create new state-dependent (i.e. progressive) voters.
Worst of all, progressives seem entirely resistant to evidence of the harm they are doing. The disintegration of the black family after a half-century of generous welfare handouts? Blame racism. Huge disparities in incarceration rates between blacks and whites? Again, blame racism. Lower socioeconomic outcomes among kids from same-sex-parented families? Can’t be right—harass the researcher with misconduct allegations. Less chance of a happy marriage when the bride has been promiscuous? Nothing to see here—move along.
For these reasons alone, I think that we should not try to confront progressivism head-on. That head-on strategy presumes that we are struggling for supremacy over the US, or over Western civilization generally, and somehow could win if we could just get our message across more effectively. We could never win in that way.
I also don’t think we should want to win in that way. Progressivism may be internally inconsistent and unsustainable—if nothing else, it will be brought down by the mass state-dependency it induces. Yet a lot of other cultures have features we find objectionable. Ideally we just choose not to participate in them. We don’t condemn them, and we don’t interfere with other people’s desires to belong to them. We treat (again, ideally) people’s cultural choices as something like a basic human right. And there’s no question that many Americans prefer progressivism to the more conservative way of thinking that I happen to prefer.
All I want is to have the same consideration extended to me and to others who think like me. I don’t want to keep arguing with people who will never be swayed. I want a place—a physical homeland—where I and my family and those like us can live and govern ourselves independently.
Looking at a map, I see that there is a large and contiguous set of American states—more than enough to form a viable country—that has voting majorities who think much as I do. As I write these words, one of the last remaining Democratic senators has just been booted from that red-state region.
Turning part or all of that region into a new country would be more achievable and meaningful than the win-it-all strategy that American conservatives now implicitly pursue. That’s not to say it would be easy. America fought a war, largely over that question, and the winning side told the losers: no, you can’t have your own culture, your own laws, your own government.
Nowadays we tend to think of the Civil War as having been fought over slavery, and having been justified in that sense. To a great extent it was fought over slavery—certainly the permitting of slavery was foremost among the “states’ rights” the south wanted to assert, and foremost among the southern practices the north found abhorrent.
But would the south have been permitted amicably to secede in 1861, based on other irreconcilable cultural differences, had they outlawed slavery first so that it was no longer an issue? Fat chance—and I say that not as a Dixie-whistling good old boy, but as a Yankee born and bred. But don’t take it from me: take it from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who has written that “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”
That said, I doubt that a determined move to secede would end in another violent struggle. In the absence of an issue as serious and galvanizing as slavery, even the most tribal-thinking progressive would soon enough see the absurdity of declaring a genuine independence movement “illegal” and making war against it.
Scotland, Quebec, Catalonia—if they can be permitted peacefully to vote to secede (or not) from their political unions, why can’t our states? Lest we forget, America was born in rebellion, and has always had at its core the principle of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Progressives opposing that principle would find themselves in the one place where they truly don’t want to be: the wrong side of history.