A House Divided

Is the U.S. headed for a second civil war? Will America survive or will the country break up?

In a survey taken in the Fall of 2021 by the University of Virginia, 50% of Trump supporters and 40% of Biden supporters believed the country should split up along red and blue lines.

At their recent state convention, the Texas Republican Party voted to formally endorse a referendum (state question) on Texas seceding from the United States. The resolution asks the Texas state legislature to put the issue on the 2023 ballot.

Texas is the only state in American history to hold a statewide vote on secession. A vote to secede from the United States happened in 1861 when Texans voted overwhelmingly to join the Confederacy.

Other states that seceded to form the Confederacy relied on their state legislatures to proclaim their departure from the union, but not Texas. Texas was an independent country when it joined the union and that fact fuels complicated legal debates on whether the Lone Star state can constitutionally break away from the United States. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia believed secession was settled by the Civil War and that no state (including Texas) has a right to secede from the union.

Three observations:

First, secession is not a new idea.

As early as the 1790s, states were trying to break away from the union. Kentucky, Virginia and other states attempted to leave the union in 1798. South Carolina, the first state to secede over the slavery issue, threatened to pull out in 1828 over the issue of tariffs when Andrew Jackson was president. The Palmetto State also threatened to leave over the issue of California’s statehood.

James Madison, the father of the Constitution, said the document does not allow for a state to pull out of the union- without the approval of the other states. There is no “no-fault” divorce provision in the Constitution.

Second, secession is not a good idea.

When a state becomes a separate country, it presents a whole new set of challenges. Founding documents must be drafted and a form of government established. Dealing with those in the new country who were opposed to secession becomes a major issue. National defense, currency, and a myriad of other things must be addressed. It takes more work to start a country than to reform one.

Third, the political divide in America is widening.

There are few political issues the two major political parties agree on. Positions on abortion and same sex marriage dissect the country. Fiscal policy is fractured. Debate over gun rights and the Second Amendment hold sway. Common ground is crumbling. Red (conservative) and blue (liberal) states are fractured along ideology lines.

The Bible says two can’t walk together unless they be in agreement. Discord and division reign. If common ground can’t be found- and quick- dissolution of the union is inevitable, whether it be by secession or a second civil war.

Before he was President, in 1858, Abraham Lincoln famously quoted Matthew 12:25 in a speech to the Illinois Republican Party: A house divided against itself cannot stand. The speech is one of Lincoln’s most well-known speeches and it seems relevant for today.

Whether a house stands or falls depends on the commitment of the inhabitants in the house. They must agree on the fundamentals/principles that govern the house.

When half of the U.S. believes the country should dissolve, there is clearly a lack of commitment to keep the house intact.

In order for the union to survive, Americans must unite on what America is- indivisible and founded on liberty and justice for all.

Note: Steve Fair is Chairman of the Republican Party in the Fourth Congressional District of Oklahoma. Steve’s conservative commentaries appear regularly at the CapitolBeatOK.com news website. Contact him by email at okgop@aol.com. His blog is stevefair.blogspot.com.