A Shocking Number of Americans Want to Break Up the U.S.
It was just about 10 years ago. I was dining in Madrid at Sobrino de Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world, with a bunch of colleagues who’d gathered to think big thoughts about tomorrow.
The question was asked.
Best I can recall, it was something along the lines of: “What do you think the next really big thing could be, Jeff?”
My answer is not one anyone wants to hear. It’s an answer that sounds ridiculous. Conspiratorial, even. Maybe a bit too “prepper.” Most people who hear it, shake their head, scoff. Some get mad. Some yell.
But it’s an answer that I believed was possible…and time has, unfortunately, borne this out.
“The end of America as we currently know it geographically,” was generally my reply. “The social divide in America is just too great a chasm to cleave back together. Fondness for Fourth of July, college football tailgate parties, and Thanksgiving turkey just aren’t enough anymore.”
Like I said, no one wants to hear that.
And I understand why.
I also understand why it sounds ridiculous, conspirator, and prepper. And I want to be clear that I’m not saying that I believe it’s 100% going to happen.
But then this:
A shocking new poll from the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia reveals that over half of Trump voters surveyed, and 41% of Biden voters, are in favor of blue and/or red states seceding from the union.
That’s from one of several news stories on that topic last week.
Then there was also the YouGov poll in June that found 66% of Republicans in the deeply red Deep South want to secede.
At this point, it’s not me being the conspiratorial curmudgeon. It’s a large swath of the American public—on both sides of the red/blue rainbow—that is simply fed up with where America is headed. They’re effectively saying the same thing to pollsters that I predicted a decade ago over a glass of Flor de Pingus (a truly remarkable Spanish Tempranillo) and suckling pig that Hemingway once raved about in The Sun Also Rises.
We had a jokey little saying when I was writing the “Heard on the Street” investment column for The Wall Street Journal: Never wrong—just early. The idea being that you wait long enough and your analysis, no matter how many people laugh at you and belittle your brain power, will almost always prove prescient.
More from the UVA poll:
- Six in 10 Trump and Biden voters see America as less a representative democracy and more a system that is run by and rigged for the benefit of the wealthy.
- Overall, more than two-thirds support—and one-third strongly—taking the law into their own hands when it comes to dealing with people or groups they view as dangerous.
No way to spin either of those positively.
Look, I don’t wish for America to devolve into separate fiefdoms—or thiefdoms, as the case tends to be with government.
Frankly, if it happens—if the geography of American changes so that we are no longer a unified 50 states—a world of hurt descends on all of us far greater than the COVID shutdown.
A devolving U.S. would, among a large variety of other negative consequences, mark the terminus of the U.S. dollar. And that would have a crushing economic fallout at home and abroad.
But like I said, that’s not what my Spanish prediction was about all those years ago.
It was about thinking big and considering what might come to pass. The rest of the world would wrongly call such an event in America a black swan—an unexpected event with severe consequences.
Those of us paying attention, however, rightly know it’s now more a gray swan—an event that is possible and knowable, even though the likelihood is remote.
Remote, alas, is not “non-existent.”
No empire has ever survived. Not a single world-reserve currency has ever survived.
Every last one of them has faded from the Earth for various reasons.
And this, ultimately, is why over that wine and suckling pig, my solution to this gray swan problem for America was gold and silver and Swiss francs. I’d probably throw bitcoin and Ethereum into that mix today.
I’m a big fan of insurance for all kinds of knowable challenges in life. I have long-term care insurance in case I need a pot of money to pay for expensive day-care in my dotage; I have various whole-life insurance policies I can draw on later in life, if needed; I have mounds of collectibles because I want non-financial assets; I have money invested in different parts of the world because I don’t want to be reliant on a single economy, a single currency, and a single financial, legal, monetary, and political system.
And, as I’ve written in previous dispatches, I own a bunch of exposure to the aforementioned metals and Swiss francs (and, now, crypto).
Again, I’m not saying America is destined to split apart. But saving it requires fundamental changes to the economic, political, and judicial system. And right now, I don’t see the political will for that.
Better to be wrong about the prediction than wrong about needing to prepare.