If whoever you hate more wins the election this fall, is secession an option? Fortune.com scribe Katherine Reynolds Lewis thinks it may be. Excerpt:
The secession talk ranges from sardonic social media posts to the heartfelt commitment of organizers who conduct opinion polls and are pushing for independence votes in their own states.
In the run up to almost every presidential election, partisans on both sides of the political spectrum threaten to move to a country like Canada or Ireland if the other side wins. But this election is different.
While popular support for exiting the U.S. remains at minuscule levels even in those states with established secessionist movements, the increased discussion and prominence of the notion is a reflection of the nation’s political polarization. Indeed, by some measures, America is at its most divided since the Civil War.
With the Republican National Convention wrapping up last week in Cleveland and Democrats holding their confab this week in Philadelphia, a recent Pew survey shows that voters hold a more negative view of the opposing party than at any time since polling began in 1992. These feelings have risen to the level of outright fear and anger, often more powerful than the positive feelings voters have about their own party.
Now, there’s a huge difference between the Brexit vote and a possible secession movement. The Brexit vote led to an existing sovereign nation breaking a set of economic ties to an unelected bureaucracy in Brussels; a secession movement (which, you may remember, has already been tried once) involves splitting an existing sovereign nation asunder.
But there’s a big difference between 1860 and today. In 1860, the country was divided largely along geographic lines; today, the division is political and, to a great extent, urban vs. suburban/rural. It’s not at all clear that any single state, with two exceptions, could successfully secede from the Union and make a go of it.
Those two exceptions? Texas and Alaska. Both of those states have several attributes that would make this possible: Ocean ports, natural resources, tax structures friendly to business. Texas has become a manufacturing and small business powerhouse in recent years, while Alaska is largely an extraction economy; but both of those states would have a reasonable path to independence.
I’ve always thought that a day will come when the United States breaks up, probably into five or six smaller nation-states. But I don’t think we’re quite at that point yet, no matter if The Donald or Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I walks into the Imperial Palace in January.