I read and article the other day about how the fly-over states are holding the rest of the country back. I’ve also seen articles and comments about how willing many people would be to let California secede. And it got me to thinking about the civil war.
There were many issues that drove the blue and the gray apart, and there were also issues that assured that they couldn’t exist apart as well. The same holds true today.
People talk about the war as one about slavery. That was a core issue, but it also obscures other important cultural and philosophical issues. The same is true today.
In the 19th century slavery was the hot issue. But the sense of the affairs of states being meddled with, State’s Rights, was equally important in secession. Individual freedom, and State freedom were being impinged upon By northern meddling in the “peculiar institution.” I’m sure it isn’t a popular thing to say, but a more gradual solution would have come about (meaning many more years of many more people enslaved, yes, not a good tradeoff); the institution was dying off.
Yet instead we fought a war that strengthened the central government, and in many ways led to today’s struggle over central power versus freedom that the Blue and Red struggle is often about.
One of the reasons that secession couldn’t stand was geography. You go back to 1803 and America felt itself threatened when control of the Mississippi was in the hands of another power. The Civil war was doing the same thing to the U.S. again. We couldn’t divide north south when our geography flowed north south. And independent south would have been a threat to the North.
Taking a look at Red and Blue you have similar issues. That article disdaining fly-over states liked to talk about how much of importance was centered on the coasts, but much of the functioning of the East and West coasts is dependent on the ability to bring them together through the center. The Red heartland would actually be in better shape than the Blue coasts much as the Gray south would have been in better shape than the Blue north, if a division were to take place.
These are simple sketched thoughts, but they show how a division would be more detrimental to the one side, and so could not stand. It, of course, doesn’t address all the other issues about how the fracturing of the American state would influence the ability of any of the sub units to have influence around the world, vs. being threatened by those foreign powers.
This is obviously something that could be discussed in different details, or greater detail, either in comments, or a future post. So feel free to comment, and maybe we can put together the seeds of a future post.