A National Divorce?
Dave Smith and Reason's Zach Weissmueller discuss the libertarian case for and against breaking up the United States.
Full text and links: https://reason.com/video/2022/07/25/should-libertarians-root-for-a-national-divorce/
Is it time for blue states and red states to stop fighting over their differences and just get a divorce?
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R–Ga.), along with many on the political right, says it's time to seriously consider breaking the country apart.
The Libertarian Party (L.P.) has also been promoting this idea on Twitter since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
"Pro-lifers, why share a country with those who support the dismemberment of babies in the womb?," the L.P. tweeted in June. "Pro-choicers, why share a country with those who would take a woman's right to abort away? #NationalDivorce."
The politics of abortion are thorny and contentious even among libertarians, but what about when it comes to the more straightforward libertarian positions on free speech, guns, and private property? Is trampling on individual rights more legitimate when a state or city government does it?
Why would it be acceptable at the local but not the federal level to relinquish our liberties to the tyranny of the majority?
Also, the kind of national divorce between red and blue America that partisans like Greene are calling for doesn't accurately capture the rich political diversity of a country designed from the founding to contain multitudes.
When I tweeted that talk of a "national divorce" implies "there are only two sides, that you must choose one," and that the discussion is mostly about "tribal rage," I got a lot of pushback, including in the form of this map, showing America divided into its thousands of counties, suggesting that we can Balkanize into a limitless number of political tribes.
"I love how [discussing a national divorce] gets people thinking about something that seems almost off limits," says comedian, podcast host, and possible L.P. presidential candidate Dave Smith. I talked with Smith about the possibility of a national divorce after we exchanged words on Twitter about it. You can see a fuller discussion between us in the video above. He says the topic is a political litmus test.
"I think the question becomes how bad do you really think this current situation is?" says Smith. "Is it an inconvenience? Or is this something that is really dangerous? And I think the situation of us being a union right now is very dangerous."
The increasing centralization of political power in America is indeed concerning and dangerous. But is rooting for the breakup of the U.S. at this moment in time really all that libertarian?
Watch my conversation with Smith in the video above.
Produced by Zach Weissmueller; editing and graphics by Regan Taylor
Photos: Jeff Malet/SIPA/Newscom; Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom; Monica Jorge/Sipa USA/Newscom; Ron Adar/M10s/MEGA/Newscom/RAAST/Newscom; Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom; Stefani Reynolds/picture alliance/Consolidated News Photos/Newscom