The clue to the nature of the make-up of the USA comes from the "U" in its name. It stands for "United." The people of America and its states have fundamental differences in opinions and lifestyles from north to south and east to west, but they come together under one flag as one enormous nation and have done so for hundreds of years. Rarely during that time - with the exception of the American Civil War - have relations between those states been tested as severely as they have in the weeks since Donald Trump lost the 2020 Presidential Election. Most people suspected that the incumbent President wouldn't quietly accept defeat, but few expected he would go as far as he has in his battle against the inevitable.
As you’ll surely have heard if you’ve been following international news for the past month, Trump alleges that his opponent Joe Biden, the President-elect, defeated him via fraud and ballot-tampering. William Barr, Trump’s own hand-picked Attorney General, has stated that he’s found no evidence of any such fraud taking place. Votes have been recounted in multiple states without any sign of wrong-doing being revealed, and appeals made to the highest court in the land have been rejected due to lack of evidence. Nevertheless, Trump battles on - and the strain he’s placing on the country he presides over might yet tear it apart.
After any US election, the normal process is that when it becomes apparent who's won and who's lost, the loser telephones the winner to concede defeat and congratulate them upon their victory. That allows the process of transition to begin and prepares the country for what's to come. The issue is that there isn't anything normal about this presidency, and there never has been. Trump is a figure who's become so cartoonish that he became the unwitting star of the "Rocket Men" online slots game that became so popular at online slots websites around the world a little over a year ago. Trump knows a thing or two about casinos - he used to run a few in Atlantic City in the days before online slots were invented - but it's impossible to imagine another US President being used as branding for online slots in this manner. He's an entertainment brand more than he is a politician, and he doesn't follow the norms of politics.
Without a concession from Trump, the question of who won the election continues to be debated and contested by supports on both sides even though the material fact of Biden's victory is absolute and cannot be changed. It's becoming increasingly likely that Trump's supporters will never accept Biden as President, and in states where Trump enjoys the most extensive support, that lack of acceptance might lead to something far more significant. When a (seemingly meritless) attempt by Texas to have votes cast in swing states Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia thrown out by the Supreme Court failed, the Texan branch of the Republican Party released a statement that appeared to float the idea of secession. For those not familiar with the term, it would mean Texas detaching itself from the United States of America to become an independent country - and yet if the state were to secede, it might not be alone.
Texas has never truly been happy and settled as part of the union, and secession movements have been suggested there for many years. In response to this most recent suggestion, though, the head of the GOP in Arizona posted on social media to indicate that they might be interested in joining them. The Texan GOP's statement explicitly stated that it might be interested in a 'union of law-abiding states,' which has been interpreted as a call for further declarations. Aside from Arizona, GOP representatives in Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, and other states might be interested in such a move. Secession has been attempted in the country before and ended in a war. This time, it might be possible to achieve the same outcome without a shot being fired.
It should be noted that secession isn't a uniquely Republican idea. Republican states are interested in secession because they feel that the USA is becoming too liberal. Some Democratic states have also expressed an interest in secession because they don't feel it's liberal enough. There's a political party in California that believes the Golden State would fare far better as a lone, progressive nation than it does as part of a wider union, and there will be people who echo that feeling in the progressive northeast of the country. There appears to be a growing sentiment that the things that used to bind Americans together no longer unify them and that the differences in culture, politics, and outlook are becoming too large to bridge the gap. If that's the case, it might be that America has become too big and too divided for its own good.
There is, of course, a big difference between saying something and doing it. Any state that wishes to secede would first have to get a bill through its own political systems before raising it to the national level, and even then, there would be opposition. Even with all the noise, it's far from clear that there's enough support in any of these states for succession measures t pass. Americans are brought up to respect their national flag from the day they're old enough to salute it. While there's little doubt that millions of them don't want Joe Biden as their President, they also don't want to cease to be American. When push comes to shove, it's more likely that they'll grit their teeth and grudgingly bear the next four years than it is they'll vote to cut themselves off from the country they so often profess to love.
Nothing can be taken for granted in this strangest of years, though. Joe Biden is going to become President in January 2021, and we doubt the fires that have been stoked in American politics will have been extinguished by then. If Texas were to get a secession movement off the ground somehow, it would be interesting to see who - if anyone - decides to follow in their footsteps. There have been fifty stars on the flag of the United States of America since Hawaii joined in 1959. Americans have spent years wondering who might make it fifty-one. Now, the question of who might disappear and make it forty-nine might be more pertinent.