The Claremont Institute shines a light on an issue largely unspoken.
The Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank based in Upland, California, has dared to raise an issue that is seldom discussed publicly but is certainly being discussed privately…splitting the United States and doing so in a manner that preserves our collective advantages while allowing two diametrically opposed ideologies to coexist independently of one another.
In reality, a second civil war or some division of the nation is being discussed more and more openly. On Amazon, one can find several recent books discussing the issue, such as Tom Kawczynski’s The Coming Civil War or Michael Anton’s excellent book The Stakes.
The Claremont Institute’s website American Mind is currently featuring three essays collectively called A House Dividing: Bringing what is said in private into the open. All are written pseudonymously, for reasons not entirely clear. Nevertheless, the three perspectives are thought-provoking and well worth reading.
We’ll all get through this
The first article, Madison Wins, Factions Lose by Geoffrey M. Vaughan, argues that the Constitutional underpinnings of our republic are stronger than the rapidly forming factions that threaten to tear it apart.
The partisan divide in the country is now, in the most contested states, as close to 50/50 as it has ever been. Litigation, recounts, and runoffs may leave in suspense the exact details of who will win what seats and which parties will control which legislatures. We won’t know who won what for a while. Yet despite all this uncertainty there is one clear winner: James Madison.
Madison’s theory, outlined in the Federalist Papers #10, was that by extending the republic, i.e. adding population, it would be more difficult for factions to form, since many people might disagree on some things but would agree on many more things.
Madison’s prescience appears confirmed when one considers the results of the just completed election. Remember when Democrats preached “demography is destiny?” The idea was minorities, blacks, hispanics, immigrants both legal and illegal, were naturally drawn to the Democratic Party and would eventually ensure its ascendancy for all time. Yet, in the 2020 election and to a large degree the 2016 contest, Trump drew voters from the ranks of working-class Democrats and many of the minority groups. In fact, the number of voters in the black and hispanic ranks voting for Trump increased this year.
It turned out that most minority groups are not as monolithic as Democrats have presumed and taken for granted. Hispanics, many of whom had escaped to the United States from failed socialist countries, had no desire to return to that political system. Many African Americans recognized that under President Trump black unemployment reached its lowest percentage in decades as a result of the Trump tax cuts and deregulation that spurred economic growth and it’s attendant hiring.
Madison’s presumption that factions would not form in a populous republic was based on shared interests. But today? According to Vaughan,
What we see now is a different type of faction. The growing division in this country is between ideologues. Ideologues are committed to an unalterable way of looking at the world, a pre-packaged explanation that requires little to no thought to apply: “structural racism,” “heteronormativity,” etc.
The counties band together
It is these ideological divisions that are the subject of “Professor Tom Trenchard’s” essay 2020: A Retrospective From 2025, a fictionalized look back at where the country might go after the 2020 election. Trenchard foresees a future immediately following the election where red counties band together as the United American Counties to counter the dictates of the urban Left.
The concept is hardly preposterous. Today, the counties of northern California are proposing to secede from that state and join Idaho. Several southeastern counties in Oregon are also entertaining the idea. When Governor Ralph Northam began restricting gun rights in Virginia, driven by urban Democrats in the counties around Washington, D.C., the state of West Virginia invited the counties in Western Virginia to secede and join them.
In Trenchard’s view, looking back at 2020 from his fictional perspective in 2025,
The problem was that the election dispute coincided with a deep polarization of world views and American historical narratives that had been building for decades. This polarization had proceeded to the extent of annihilating any possible common ground, rendering attempts at compromise or a “live and let live” approach impossible. We had become two Americas; and, as Lincoln had said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
An amicable split
Finally, in The Separation, “Rebecca” argues not for secession so much as an amicable negotiated split. She points to a Pew Research Center survey taken in 2017 which illustrates America’s rapidly disappearing political center.
America needs a separation, not a divorce. The objective is to save America—not destroy it. The Separation is an orderly agreement allowing Red and Blue America political living space while acknowledging the practical bonds of geography, commerce, currency, debt, diplomacy and military force.
These articles by the Claremont Institute make for compelling reading and lay bare what many of us have been privately thinking. The authors take the more hopeful view that a separation can be accomplished without violence and preserve those areas of mutual interest while allowing people to live under the political system they most desire.