America has turned into that couple that looks like it wants a divorce

Headshot image of Dan Calabrese
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Monday June 20th, 2016

And that could be ugly.

Maybe you've known them. Maybe you've been part of one. They are often reluctant to admit they've crossed that line where there's really no turning back, but the honest observer can see it plain as day. They've had it with each other.

However long they've been married, however good at might have been (or seemed) at a given point in the past, it's painfully clear there's no pulling it out of the fire at this point. All that's left is for them to admit it - to each other and to themselves - and then to start the process that everyone who's been through it tells me is pure and utter hell.

But apparently not such hell that they're willing to stay together to avoid going through it. That, I guess, is the only thing that would be worse.

(I've never been through a divorce, but I did once split with a business partner - and if the two months that took to be completed are somehow not as bad as divorce, then God help those who have to endure such a hell. I can only imagine.)

I don't know if the hardest thing about divorce is dividing up the stuff. Or if it's how you deal with the kids if you have any. Or if it's the emotional torment. I realize some divorces go more smoothly than others because there is less at stake - maybe they weren't married that long, maybe there are no kids, maybe there isn't that much money, maybe there is no joint ownership of anything major - and it's not so hard to just cut the cord and say, hey, sorry it didn't work out. But most aren't like that. Most represent a legal nightmare with all kinds of things at stake - even if both parties would really like to just get it over with quickly. It never quite works that way.

I start with such a downer so as not to lead with the even bigger downer I'm getting to: This nation is acting like a couple that's had it with each other and wants a divorce. No one's quite admitting it yet, but the behavior is classic and unmistakable. Oh sure, we mouth bromides like, "There is more that unites us than that divides us," but it's baloney.

We hate each other.

Let me give you a couple of examples. The headed-for-divorce couple turns on each other in situations when there is no reason to do so, and if anything they ought to be united. The Orlando shooting aftermath was classic in this regard. The shooter was an ISIS sympathizer. The victims were completely innocent Americans. If ever there was a situation in which we could unite and sympathize with the victims while universally loathing the perp, this was it.

But no. We turned on each other like snarling dogs - with the left blaming Christians, the NRA and Republicans, and the right turning around and ripping the president and his supporters for being soft on terrorism. The needs of the surviving victims and the families of the dead were hardly an afterthought, and even those good acts of support for them got presented in terms of never-ending political combat.

Another thing couples like this do is to turn things into personal slights that are not meant that way. We see this in the labeling as "haters" of people who merely disagree with another person's agenda. I do not hate homosexuals because I disagree with them on any number of things. I just disagree with them. But as far as the activist left is concerned, I hate them, and people like me who quote 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 or otherwise offer reasons for opposing the gay marriage agenda are spewing vile hate that is partially responsible for evil like that we saw last weekend in Orlando.

The right, in response, organizes boycotts of businesses who go along with this agenda, or refuses to see movies starring certain actors because they too have come to represent an emeny to us. We don't even want our kids going to school with their kids, and we homeschool or find other arrangements because we see the public schools as hopelessly in the bag for the other side.

Even the news business has become little more than nonstop combat between the liberal establishment that bashes conservatives on the head and the upstart conservative alternatives that nip at the establishment's heel. No one just straight-out gives you the news these days, and no one expects anyone to.

My point here is not to say which of these behaviors are right or wrong. Some of them I think are justified. Some of them I engage in myself. I don't want to turn this into a horrendous, Mitch Albom-style bowl of mush that wrings its hands and implores everyone to get along for goodness sake, or for the children, or whatever.

I'm just telling you what I see. This no longer seems to be a nation that's really united by much of anything. We don't share any reverence for the Constitution, or for the nation's traditions or history, or for our position as world leaders. And no one seems to think the government is doing a very good job, although we can't agree about why.

At this point I think America has become a marriage of convenience. We both live here and no one wants to be the first to leave - and where would you go anyway? - so we sort of sit here in our recliners and read the paper, and try to avoid having to deal with each other as much as we can. I'm not so much lamenting it as I am just observing it. It's not necessarily true on an individual or personal level, particularly in my own life. I have at least as many close liberal friends as I do close conservative friends, because we all agree that personaal relationships aren't about politics.

But the survival of political institutions is necessarily about politics, and that's where it's hard to see hope of reconciliation.

You can see it at the top, too. For nearly eight years we've had a president who pretty clearly doesn't have any particular love for the country, but seems more motivated by what he wants to change it into. One candidate to succeed him talks about the need to make America great again, which is a pretty clear acknowledgement that he doesn't think we're great like we used to be. The other candidate to succeed him just seems angry that she hasn't gotten to be president already, and will be furious with the nation if it denies her again.

I've believed for more than 20 years that the eventual dissolution of this nation is a much greater possibility than most people think. I think the most likely trigger for it would be when a state (or states, I'd say Texas seems like a strong possibility to go first) decides it no longer makes sense to accept the share of U.S. federal debt that Washington wants to hang on it. Once a few states decide that they will no longer accept Washington's authority over them, you'll see a crisis of confidence in the federal government that could lead us to something like the map - clearly drawn by a liberal - that you see in the image above. It's a few years old and it reflects liberal angst following the re-election of George W. Bush. They were ready to take America's blue states and merge them with Canada, then let the red states reconstitute themselves as Jesusland.

Right now it's beyond the pale to imagine any state seceding because we're America, home of the free, united we stand . . . all that. But we're not united at all, and there's going to come a point when people not only realize that but decide it's no longer outside the bounds of acceptability to openly say so. And when that happens, some state that realizes it would be better off no longer under Washington's thumb will no longer feel quite so traitorous for actually acting on that realization.

You're reading all this and thinking it can't happen because America is too strong. You think that. But America hasn't been that strong or united for a very long time, and we just find it easier not to talk about it. And we'll continue in that vein until living together becomes so unbearable that we just have to do something.

You know how those couples act. It's ugly. The breakup is often ugly too. And you're least willing to see it when it's you who's right in the middle of it.

Get your copy of Herman Cain’s new book, The Right Problems Solutions, here!