Tetmeyer: Modern secession

Columnist Will Chleborad describes his thoughts and emotions as the January 6th Hearings begin.

Grant Tetmeyer

I know it’s hard to think back on those two weeks in high school where you learned all about the Civil War, which amounted to learning about five battles and how, after the war, the North and South were able to come together once again, starting the wave of activism that would “end” the largely accepted racism in American society that had been a framework for the rise of this country. This whitewashed version of history we received was perfect for fulfilling the requirements that our schools “teach” us about “American history.” But if you look past the skin of these history lessons, we will find a country that never healed from this division. We simply put a Band-Aid on a large wound that has never stopped bleeding. 

Anyone can see that we have not healed. If you take a trip into the Deep South, or even the deep rural areas of Iowa, you will find Confederate battle flags, white nationalist redirects and symbols, racial slurs both said out in public and in the privacy of their home and home computers and even the unforgettable motto: The South shall rise again. This feeling of southern rebellion didn’t disappear after the war and was fully reinvigorated in the 50s when Dixiecrats used it to rebel against their northern Democrat colleagues as well as to help quell the expansion and influence of the Civil Rights Movement. Or, to put it in simpler terms, a bunch of racist politicians revived a racist symbol for their own racist desires to keep a portion of American citizens disenfranchised and have been working at that goal to this day. And it has helped drive a wedge deeper and deeper into our country. 

This political and ideological divide has started to manifest itself in our political system and its ability to perform its tasks that it already does a horrible job of. As we saw in the 2016 election, there is still a great majority of this country that is willing to back these ideals and work them back into American society, either because they believe in them or because they simply don’t want to work with those across the aisle. This last president introduced dictatorial rhetoric and ideology, something that America is famous for avoiding, into an office that has never seen it and gave legitimacy to a side of America that has been long thought and taught as something that no longer exists. But it exists, and it has shown that it will be hidden under the rug no more.  

There has already been an organized secession attack in the past year, spurred by the president of the United States, that almost saw success. And in a way, it did, because it drove the wedge deeper into the framework of America. And the lack of accountability after the fact threatens to destroy the democracy that we all hold near and dear and the young country that we all call home. Because in the grand scheme of things, America is but a child on the world stage having to grapple with a national awakening akin to finding out your balls grow hair and you have to deal with a cracking voice.

Now, Republicans and Democrats seem to refuse to work together. Republicans, to save face in front of the future tangerine troll doll that will eventually lead the new Confederacy when it is inevitably formed, and Democrats, to try and maintain a moral high ground that is sinking into the sea of irritating disconnection from those they fight for. Even as the country they serve crumbles around them, they still lack the motivation to save the country that was once, or at least we are taught so, the premiere shining example of the efficacy of democracy. 

This may be seen as an extreme view, but a modern secession doesn’t seem too far-fetched. No, it won’t be on the explicit nation splitting that the Civil War was fought over, but it will be in our ideas and how we govern. Some states, including Iowa, have already enacted laws that at their best try to violate body autonomy and at worst strips humans of the right to govern their own bodies to the tune of fines and jail time.  And even more states, also including Iowa, have passed laws that would restrict Americans’ constitutional right to vote. The right that was the backbone for so many foreign campaigns, be it military or diplomatic, that sought to build countries on the American model. A model that not even America can seem to follow. And all of this is coming to a head, both physically and politically. 

We are taught that America is the greatest country in the world, that the freedom it pioneered makes it above all other countries. Yet we continually reference and keep alive a time in our history that all involved, North and South, agreed was a black mark on our history and should be buried and forgotten. Yet, we keep the wound open and festering. Because of the want for power. Because of the want for superiority. Because of the lust for control. Because the most American ideal of all must be preserved and continued no matter what the cost. Because we are all greedy.