The real America needs a refounding.
Human life is never quite as stable as we’d like, but we live in uniquely unsettling times. Some of us are angry. Many of us are worried. All of us are anxious about an uncertain future. In these circumstances, the bombastic, triumphal optimism of the pro-Biden crowd – just take a look at CNN for about 10 seconds and you’ll see what I mean – is obviously the product of deep insecurity. Like a 5’8” teenager driving a souped-up F150, it’s clear that the façade of Biden’s popular mandate to govern is masking a dangerously hollow reality.
According to a number of recent polls, overwhelming proportions of Trump supporters and large supermajorities of likely Republican voters as a whole believe that Biden’s election victory was illegitimate. Based on the existing popular vote counts, a good estimate would put the number of American voters who think Biden will be an illegitimate president at around 60 million. That’s the approximate population of Italy, France, or the U.K.
Put this together with the analysis I presented in my “2020 Retrospective” article on the urban/rural divide, and the result is staggering: A population of Americans equal in size to a large European country, occupying a land area about 20 times the size of any of them, currently believes they are facing the prospect of a usurped, illegitimate administration come January 20.
This stark reality of our political and geographical division sits on top of the similarly stark reality of our intellectual and spiritual division. This might not be a problem for Italy, France, or the U.K.—but it is for us. The United States has never been held together by ancestry, national origin, ethnicity, or race. We have always aspired to be a “melting pot,” a nation whose existential glue is not who you are but what you believe. A common creed, not demographics, has always defined American identity.
Today, this common creed has vanished. We are two Americas: Biden’s America and Trump’s America. These two Americas have nothing of importance in common with each other, and no common ground to stand on. There is not a single moral or political principle upon which these two Americas agree. Sure, everybody wants “freedom,” “justice,” “equality,” “democracy,” and a host of other glittering ideals. So have most dictators, Communists, and war criminals in modern history. Lenin, Stalin, and Mao gave stirring speeches in favor of all of them. The reality is that in the United States, we have long since ceased to do anything more than pay lip service to a sham facsimile of our old shared ideals.
What does this mean for us? If we are not held together as a nation by anything except the fact that we live in the same place (and, of course, even this isn’t true of parts of the U.S.), then we are not members of a common political community. Our union is built on what Alexander Hamilton called “accident and force” in the very first Federalist paper. We are subjects, not self-governing citizens.
What should we do about this? When our forebears faced a similar situation in 1776, they took decisive action. “Give me liberty or give me death,” they said. They adopted a Declaration expressing their common moral and political principles, and they affirmed their right to form a political community that would aspire to live according to those principles. It is high time for an American re-founding; not a “secession” or “separation,” but a “perpetuation” of self-evidently true American political principles embodied in a new political Union. This is what the United American Counties could be.
The principles of this new Union would be the principles of the Declaration of Independence, along with certain corollaries to these principles that elaborate its true meaning:
- Limited and local government is the foundation of a genuine republic.
- The natural right to religious liberty—of both worship and exercise—exists beyond politics, taking precedence over all rights merely positive, civil, or legal.
- The natural right to life for all human beings at all ages and stages of development is entitled to recognition, respect, and protection.
- The natural family begun in marriage between one man and one woman is the cornerstone of society.
- The right to private property is fundamental, and should only be regulated as absolutely necessary to maintain free markets, equal opportunity, and the fair reward of industry and merit.
- All citizens should be educated to understand the meaning and importance of American political principles, and equipped to become informed, active participants in our local, regional, and national systems of government.
- Citizenship in the United American Counties is available to all who understand, profess, and commit to uphold the principles in this Declaration, regardless of national origin, racial or ethnic identity, or religious belief.
The common sense of 1776 dictated the American Revolution. The common sense of 2020 dictates the creation of a new political vehicle for perpetuating the true principles of the Revolution.
Biden’s Urban America has already seceded from the United States of America that many of us know and love. Trump’s Counties can be a life raft for the American experiment in its most dire hour of need.