Marjorie Taylor Greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Be careful what you wish for.

Listen To This Story
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Much as I’m loath to even mention her name, Marjorie Taylor Greene, that irrepressible, empty bobblehead and Ultimate Karen, has a new project: She wants to break up the country.

“We need a national divorce,” the Republican member of Congress tweeted last week. “We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government. Everyone I talk to says this.”

She ought to get out more.

In our naïve, less-enlightened days, such a sentiment would have been considered treason, but now it’s called “auditioning for vice president.”

There are many practical impediments to her plan, one being that there’s no such thing as a completely red state. The country is a complicated political map, a marbleized swirl of purple, with the cities tending to run more blue, the countryside more red. If so-called “red states” actually secede, will blue cities like Austin, Dallas, and Nashville have to build battlements around their borders like in the old days?

I’d balk at giving Greene much more attention — she’s always been a few fries short of a Happy Meal — but the problem is, this idea is not uniquely hers; it’s becoming something of a shibboleth of the Republican party. Astonishingly, the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy lives on in the party of Lincoln.

Go to Europe and you can still find remnants of these walls, built when cities were surrounded by potential menace, their stone-and-mortar defenses often 12 feet thick.

Now they’re tourist destinations, reminders of a more violent past (though the Ukraine war reminds us that territorial ambition is not a thing of the past). But you still need a passport to get into the country.

Maybe under Greene’s plan, to go from red Tennessee to blue Massachusetts (or Memphis) you’ll be able to just flash your color-coded driver’s license, but it might make it tougher to nip out for a six-pack across the border.

Greene’s tweet continued, “From the sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies, we are done.”

So it’s the other guy’s fault. And it’s the other side that’s supposedly “traitorous.”

I’d balk at giving Greene much more attention — she’s always been a few fries short of a Happy Meal — but the problem is, this idea is not uniquely hers; it’s becoming something of a shibboleth of the Republican party. Astonishingly, the “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy lives on in the party of Lincoln.

What got us here? A differing view on immigration, or the role of the United States in the world? A resistance to international engagement? Disappointment at the lethargic response to the climate crisis? (Yeah, right.)

No, it’s the culture wars. What used to be called “wedge issues.”

As she explained in an earlier tweet, “We are absolutely disgusted and fed up with the left cramming and forcing their ways on us and our children with no respect for our religion/faith, traditional values, and economic&government policy beliefs.”

The “economy” and “government policy” are such vague afterthoughts, she squeezed them into a single word at the end.

Various commentators have declared this proposal unlikely but not impossible. I can remember on January 5, 2021, anticipating little happening the following day, but it became “January 6.”

Likewise, September 10, 2001, didn’t announce itself as the eve of a date that would soon become so numbingly over-uttered (not least by the New York mayor of the time) that the three numbers divided by a slash eventually lost all meaning.

So the words “national divorce” could haunt us yet, the way “Brexit” has now sullied the European vocabulary.

Please Donate to WhoWhatWhyI don’t expect Greene to be the bobblehead of this movement. With her fealty to Kevin McCarthy — sorry, I’ve got that around the wrong way; with Kevin McCarthy’s fealty to her (for helping him get across the finishing line after the 112th vote for speakership), she’s got more power and attention than ever before. 

But even with the low intelligence — lack of curiosity? Lingering effects of Lyme disease? Early-onset dementia? — of much of the Republican caucus, she’s still a pretty dim bulb on their string of witlessly blinking, out-of-season Christmas lights. 

The practicalities of a “national divorce” aren’t being explored any more than those of Brexit were considered before the disastrous 2016 referendum. Almost seven years after that vote, a majority of Brits are now sorry it ever happened, but it’s too late to reverse it, just as in the middle of the American Civil War there was no use in decrying its existence. It was already happening. 

Brexit is instructive because it was never a serious issue for the Conservative Party that instigated it. It was simply a means to settle a political threat from the party’s right flank. It wasn’t even a calculated risk; Prime Minister David Cameron was so sure the referendum would be voted down, he hardly bothered to elucidate the merits of being in the European Union.

The result was a true shock: an unexpected break from the country’s leading trading partner and the accelerated diminishment of Great Britain. It could yet lead to the break up of the United Kingdom, with Northern Ireland joining its republic to the south, and Scotland going independent.

Talk about a national divorce.

I assume the secessionist talk on the US Right is a similar kind of political gambit, “red meat” for the boisterous base. But as seen in the UK, political gambits can have unexpected consequences. It’s like getting a boa constrictor to settle your mouse problem; eventually your hungry snake will run out of rodents and look around for a bigger lunch. That’s the point when you become your own red meat.


J.B. Miller is an American writer living in England, and is the author of My Life in Action Painting and The Satanic Nurses and Other Literary Parodies.


Comments are closed.