We Don't Need A 'National Divorce,' We Need A New Reality Show
Over the last few months, rightwing pundits and politicians like Glenn Beck, Ben Shapiro, Steve Bannon and Marjorie Taylor Green have been floating the idea of a "National Divorce," wherein Red and Blue America call it quits once and for all and go their separate ways. So, naturally, Bill Maher took a moment out of his show last night to address this and give the Left a real good chastising for all of this inflammatory rhetoric they are probably also doing, because "both sides." After all, as he notes, the same poll that found that 66 percent of Trump supporters think secession might be a good idea found that 41 percent of Biden voters were also in favor of it. And a clear majority on one side and a minority on the other is still "both sides."
I'm not going to get into Maher's diatribe, since it's no different from any of his other diatribes that end with him coming to the conclusion that the Left just needs to shut up because of how incredibly repulsive we are (no, really, it ends with "You want to heal America. Shut the fuck up for a while."). But let's talk about this "national divorce" thing.
Now, I would like to point out that every time I have ever, ever seen anyone on the Left even make a passing joke about how they wouldn't exactly miss certain states if they wanted to secede, I have seen 12 other people quickly lining up to tell them that no state is solid red and that this would make vulnerable people in those areas even more vulnerable than they already are. I myself once got dragged, fairly, for suggesting we give them a Dakota. I really have not seen anyone saying it in all seriousness, in the way that polemics on the Right have been.
It's not hard to understand the underlying temptation, though. There are a lot of really horrible things we have to live with — and die of — because these dolts must be appeased. In the purely hypothetical, it would be lovely to have a nice country with a nice social safety net, universal health care, parental leave, public schooling from pre-K to college, decent labor laws, a criminal justice system that isn't totally disgusting, where we wouldn't still have to fight for reproductive rights or the right of trans people to use the bathroom or the right of same-sex couples to buy a cake. It would have been nice if everyone had obeyed COVID safety protocols so that fewer people died. It would also be nice if we didn't have a completely terrifying Supreme Court.
As much as Bill Maher apparently thinks that we are all constantly thrilled to fight these fights, it's freaking exhausting.
The real benefit, however, to splitting into two countries is that if the Right had to actually live in the kind of society they claim they so desperately want to live in for any significant period of time, they would be freaking miserable. There is a part of me, the Mr. Roarke part of me, that wants to call their bluff.
So I have an idea.
You know how the BBC had all those reality shows like "1900 house" and "Victorian Slum House" and "Regency House Party?" I say we create a reality series in which we let a bunch of Trumpers create their own intentional community, Galt's Gulch style perhaps, where everything is done exactly the way they wish it was done, and everyone else gets to watch it on TV.
This is inspired, of course, by the real life attempt to recreate Galt's Gulch in Chile, which failed quite miserably and famously, and the attempted libertarian paradise in Grafton, New Hampshire that was swiftly foiled by marauding bears. Oh, and there was Glenn Beck's idea for an intentional community/theme park, Independence USA, and the planned survivalist community The Citadel in Idaho, neither of which ever actually came into fruition.
Rightwing intentional communities do not have a history of ending well. This is because, I suspect, most conservative ideology is about getting to see bad things happen to people they don't like and getting to be above those people in the social or economic hierarchy. However, when they're the only ones in the community, that tends to get awkward. Also because they are usually created by very scammy people or religious zealots with a predilection for underage girls. But I think that everyday Trumpers should have an opportunity to live as they have always dreamed, to live in a walled off world of pure capitalism and greed, where every last thing is privatized and they get to create all of their own "culture" ... and that it should be filmed and played weekly for all of America to see. Not so we can "understand them" mind you — I think we're all pretty clear — but so they can understand themselves and see just how very, very bad all of their ideas are.
The fact is, I don't think these people will ever really get this urge towards cruelty out of their system until they either get to live it or see it in action while someone else does. And maybe, just maybe, something like this might snap them out of it.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse