One Nation . . . Divisible

“[W]e are now facing another constitutional crisis, as we did in the 1850s, when Congress was unable to compromise on slavery or avert the impending civil war. Today again, changes that must be made seemingly can’t be made because of our divisions and failure to compromise. The Constitution was designed for another country, one in which people agreed on fundamental principles, and that’s not today’s America. We are divided on things that used to unite us, and we don’t like politicians who compromise on things we care about.” F.H. Buckley~

Every school day, I stand with a handful of high school students to say the Pledge of Allegiance. But I’ve begun to stumble over the word “indivisible”. I’m no longer certain that the United States will remain united.

We are more divided than ever, without being at war. And some places across the country, some of our cities, really are war zones.

Our division, rather its resolution, is the subject of a book by F.H. Buckley, American Secession: The Looming Threat of National Breakup.

Buckley divides the book into three sections: “Part I: A Cure for a Divided People?” “Part II: A Cure for Bigness?” “Part III: Lesser Cures.”

It’s our bigness, he argues, that has caused unhappiness, division, and corruption. But our bigness has made us wealthy too.

Buckley presents the discussion our founders had as they strived to determine which form of government would work for these United States.

Explaining that the framers assumed secession was permissible (“by the consent of the governed“), Buckley lays out the arguments the Constitution’s crafters made as they shaped the document various factions today see either as pliable or etched in stone. It cannot be both.

He makes the case that California, for example, if it seceded, would save “$103 billion …[paid] in federal taxes than it receive[s] back from Washington” and, therefore, should be able to pay for the plethora of social programs its government embraces.

While he notes later that California has never had a majority wanting to secede, that may change as the middle class continues to flee the Golden State.

It also remains to be seen whether $103 billion in extra revenues could stem the flow of departures or truly develop the entitlement utopia its leaders seek to create.

Buckley points readers to other recent secession movements such as Brexit, the UK’s secession from the European Union, and Quebec’s near self-extraction from Canada, arguing that the prospect of official division will affect America too.

As you begin the book, you might expect, as I did, that Buckley will advocate for secession. But the book comes to a different, (and maybe I’m being a bit cynical) less likely, proposal–a live-and-let-live cohabitation.

Is such a compromise possible?

The quick read (135 pages, plus a few charts) is a compilation of keen analysis that aptly shows America’s melting pot is at the boiling point.

Buckley presents more than one solution.

Questions remain: Will we boil over or find a way to dwell beside each other in peace?

And will “peace” include freedom or an enforced perspective that once lay behind an iron curtain?

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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34 Replies to “One Nation . . . Divisible”

  1. Wow…. I believe one of the beauties of the United States of America is in our diversity in race and thought. Lincoln quoted Jesus as he stepped in to keep the union in tact: a house divided against itself will not stand. John Nash’s economic theories show why, when wealthy states step in to help their neighbors, both are stronger in the end. As an educator, I see this principle in the classroom as strong students mentor struggling ones; also in recovery. Fracturing our nation is a mistake.

  2. Excellent, Nancy. It breaks my heart how divided our nation is and how quick we people seem to enjoy polarization. I saw a bumper sticker this morning bashing another political party and it reminded me that the quicker we are to point out different and make fun of the “other side,” or even develop a notion. there is “an other side,” the faster we devolve into division. Unity and peace are important. We can believe what we want and stand up for what is right, and we should — but there is a Christian way to do it — a way that unifies rather than alienates.

  3. Very thought provoking discussion. As I watch the divisions continue, I wonder where we will end up as a country. My further concern includes if Christianity will be included or even allowed. I find myself bathing our country in prayer more and more. Thankfully, God is still on His throne and I put myself and my family in His hands. Thanks, Nancy

  4. We are surely facing scary times in this country. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I am not sure what it will take to swing the pendulum of the Republic back…prayer and being alert.

  5. I was born and raised in California. We left over 20 years ago because of many reasons, and looking back, I am sure glad we moved! It isn’t the same place that I grew up in – it’s radically changed. All this to say is that if it comes to seceding from the Union, that would be a huge historical event, and who knows what the long-term consequences would be? Even though we left California years ago, I would be saddened by such an event. Instead, I pray that we remain the “United” States of America.

  6. You’ve presented a frightening scenario that we, as a nation, have tried to ignore. In one of your comments, you advocate “awakening and revival.” I agree. Just as the “Great Awakening” moved through the South and brought many to Jesus, we as Christians, need to do our part to share the love of Christ with a hurting people–and there are many hurting people in this United(?) States. Thanks for reminding us that ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away.

    1. Katherine, I remember the series The Civil War that Ken Burns made years ago. Historian Shelby Foote pointed out that, before the war, we said these United States. We spoke of ourselves as a plural entity. Afterward, we were the United States. Perhaps we are these again.

      Thank you and God bless!

  7. When fear rules hearts, desperation rules action. Our hope rests in Christ and, as others have said, a revival of faith.

    Thank you for sharing this sobering information, Nancy.

    Peace and grace,

  8. I feel the division too. But it seems if you try to speak up and you are not on the liberal side, you are silenced, shamed or told you are wrong. No side has ever agreed with each other, but we did not have the violent division we have today. It is a sign of the last days that Jesus said would happen.

  9. Such a deeply thoughtful and sad state of our country, reflected in this piece. I don’t see a way to be united when we can’t agree on foundational issues. Only God could hold us together. But will He do so when we no longer follow, honor or believe in Him?

    1. I love that Franklin Graham’s march yesterday (9/26/2020) was one of repentance. That’s what we need. To humble ourselves, repent, and turn to Him. Thanks, Melissa, and God bless!

  10. Sounds like an interesting book.

    One way to reduce the risk of separation is to give more power to the individual states. When the federal government has too much power, it gives rise to separatist movements.

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