It’s Time We Moved on From the Idea of a 'United States'

By Craig Shirley | April 27, 2021 | 12:22pm EDT
The American flag swirls in the wind. (Photo credit: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
The American flag swirls in the wind. (Photo credit: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

The idea that our country is the “United States” is antiquated and people need to start thinking in more realistic terms.

I’ve recently written on how I foresee a national breakup sometime in the future. I stand by that prediction but I want to make clear that Americans need to stop thinking of themselves as “united.”

The only unity is within different subgroups, as our nation has become factionalized. A New York City resident is likely to be more loyal to the city than the country. A Texan is likely to be more loyal to the state than the country. I’m from Virginia but I am more loyal to my ideology than I am the Commonwealth. We’ve seen this sort of thing for a long time now, but COVID should have been a chance for us to heal. In the past, a crisis like COVID would bring people together. Such was the case during the Civil War, the Great Depression, and both World Wars. 

Instead, we’re so divided that we can’t even agree on what is fact anymore. Look no further than the perceptions of how certain leaders are handling the COVID pandemic. 

Ron DeSantis has steered the state of Florida about as well as any governor could hope during a pandemic of this magnitude. Regular, sensible people have watched with mostly approval, while his detractors on the Left and in the media have blown every action of his up as a blunder of genocidal proportions. This is best epitomized in the recent hit job by 60 Minutes that was so blatantly false that even Florida state Democrats came to DeSantis’ defense.

A united country would have looked at DeSantis’ record and recognized the objective fact that he has, by and large, handled the pandemic well. But instead, we have a news program that was once a paragon of journalism trying to shoehorn him into a scandal that simply wasn’t there. These are the same people who spent all of last year fawning over Gretchen Whitmer and Andrew Cuomo, both of whom are likely responsible for thousands of nursing home deaths and have gutted their states’ economies in the name of “safety.”

A united country would strive for happiness and freedom, but the factions can’t even agree on that either.

Bringing it back to Florida, DeSantis has a state economy that’s doing well, where people are happy and out enjoying the spring weather. New York and Michigan still have their economies in shambles and people are miserable. Of course, part of the ongoing closures has to do with power; Cuomo and Whitmer have let themselves think they are feudal lords ruling over fiefdoms and aren’t about to give up that control. But it’s not just the leaders either who seem to enjoy this. People on the Left’s rank and file genuinely seem to want to continue being shut indoors indefinitely. Anyone with sense shouldn’t want to be united with folks whose happiness comes from perpetual misery and living with zero risk. They and people such as Whitmer and Cuomo are collectivists and thus don’t want people to be happy or free.

And then there’s our federal government. A government is, theoretically, supposed to serve as a representation of the unified will of the people. In practice though, the U.S. government is anything but. Look no farther than those in charge of the government’s response to the pandemic.

Most people, I think it’s safe to say, want the restrictions, social distancing, etc. to end. Yet Anthony Fauci, our supposed chief infectious disease expert, seems determined to move the goalposts endlessly back on when we can go back to our normal lives and has straight-up admitted to moving the goalposts about what would count as effective herd immunity. In a country with a unified mentality, Fauci would have used every opportunity to encourage Americans to get the vaccines that are now available in large quantities. Instead, by lying and continually insisting that mask-wearing and restrictions must continue, Fauci has probably ensured a good chunk of people will never get vaccinated now. That, plus the new CDC director’s recent hysterical assertion of “impending doom” even as millions are getting vaccinated daily, now means we’ll be arguing endlessly over when it’s safe to fully reopen the country, regardless of how many people have vaccines.

I use that example to demonstrate that, again, if we had the mentality of a united nation, then the CDC would not have such a defeatist attitude despite our fairly decent vaccine rollout. In a perfect world, at every speaking opportunity, Fauci and his cohorts would be urging every American to do their part, get the vaccine ASAP, and score small victories against the enemy that is COVID. That’s not to downplay the risk of a surge in cases, but the threat of a new surge should not be the focal point of the messaging.

Consider how, during World War II, Americans were encouraged to donate materials like tin and nylon, plant Victory gardens, and buy war bonds. It may or may not have actually helped, but the point was that people believed their small contribution was a small victory against Hitler and the Japanese. How do you think the war would have turned out if our message had been self-contradictory and defeatist the way Fauci’s is? Thank heaven it wasn’t, precisely because we saw ourselves as a unified country against a challenge that needed addressing.

The United States is not united; there are those who see sense, reason, facts, and who want to be happy and then those who don’t. The breakup is coming, so we might as well decide which group or state is our home and plant our flags accordingly.

Craig Shirley is the author of four bestselling books Ronald Reagan's campaigns, including "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980," out March 21, 2017. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, "December 1941," and is the president of Shirley & McVicker Public Affairs.

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