Right-wing celebrity and Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene recently made a newsworthy contribution to the persistent discussion over white conservative secession from the United States. Secession themes emerged in conservative discourse first with the re-election of Barack Obama in 2012 and then once again with the civil war chatter that followed the inauguration of Joe Biden after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Even when they’re in charge, white conservatives can barely stand living in multicultural, socially liberal and heavily urbanized America, and secession talk starts as soon as the Democrats get control of the government.
With Greene, it’s worth remembering her background as a sleaze sleeping with the guys at the Alpharetta gym where she worked, supporting the execution of Nancy Pelosi, and https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/27/politics/marjorie-taylor-greene-david-hogg-video/index.htmlstalking Parkland High survivors. All of which is consistent with her white evangelical faith. If Greene had come from billionaire money, she’s depraved enough that she could have been another Donald Trump or Ghislaine Maxwell. As it was, Greene had to work her way up to local celebrity and election to Congress from the lower reaches of the internet.
In this case, Greene takes an argument about limiting the voting rights of Northern snowbirds and California climate refugees to promote a “National Divorce Scenario” as a base framework for discussing the issue. There’s a bit of rhetorical cleverness in simply assuming that the break-up of the United States is a completely normal topic of discussion and that limiting the voting rights of those who move across political lines can be reasonably framed in those terms. Marjorie Taylor Greene isn’t stupid and, as Eric Swalwell stresses, “she’s not kidding” about splitting up the country and denying Democrats the right to vote.
But the rhetorical riff from Greene is pathetically thin compared to the enormous weight of breaking up the United States as a nation, and Rep. Reuben Gallego of Arizona (likely to mount a primary challenge to Kyrsten Sinema in 2024) isn’t having any of it, tweeting that “[t]here is no “National Divorce” either you are for civil war or not. Just say it if you want a civil war and officially declare yourself a traitor.” Like many white conservatives, Greene throws the term “traitor” around a lot as an insult, most recently calling out the 13 GOP reps who voted for the Infrastructure Bill as “traitors.” In the Constitution, treason is defined in terms of “levying war” against the United States “or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Once again, Greene’s rhetoric of treason against her version of the Republican Party is thin compared to Gallego calling out the civil war implications of “National Divorce.”
In fact, the whole idea of white conservative secession is misbegotten. Some of the main points:
- Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas (109 electoral votes) are all purple rather than red states. As a result of Trump, all of these states tightened up with Biden winning Arizona and Georgia (both of which now have two Dem senators), North Carolina having a Democratic governor, and Obama winning Florida twice. The only one of these states where the GOP has won every time is Texas but Texas AG Ken Paxton admitted that Trump would have lost the state because “if his office had not successfully blocked counties from mailing out applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters.”
- All the big purple states have rapidly growing, super-majority blue metro areas. Phoenix in AZ, Atlanta in GA, the Charlotte to Raleigh belt in NC, and the Big Four in Florida and Texas are all just as diverse and liberal as major Democratic metros like Detroit, Denver, and Milwaukee and will grow more so as a result of anti-urban GOP policies. GOP politicians and consultants may be able to stave off Democratic futures but the trend is going the other way.
- That’s why Greene’s whole argument is from weakness. The whole purpose of “National Divorce” from Greene’s view is withdrawing the big purple states from the country before they become Democratic Party bastions.
- For Greene and white conservatives more generally, there are only two ways to deal with the development of a multicultural, socially liberal, and urbanized America–either Red State secession or the establishment of some sort of authoritarian conservative control over the rest of the country.
There’s a desperation under the surface of Green postulating a “National Divorce.” The rest of the country should remain steadfast and determined but there’s no reason to think conservatives are acting from a position of strength.