Darrow Miller and Friends

Is a National Divorce on the Horizon?

Is America headed toward divorce?

In a recent edition of WORLD Magazine, Marvin Olasky wrote twin interviews. Each one provided me with a new insight.

Ben Sasse coming American divorce
by Gage Skidmore

The first interview, “Between Anywhere and Somewhere,” featured Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE). It reads, in part,

David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics (Hurst, 2017) sees British politics as a battle ‘between the people who see the world from Anywhere and the people who see it from Somewhere.’ Goodhart’s ‘Anywheres’ are used to moving around and ‘have portable “achieved” identities, based on educational and career success.’ His ‘Somewheres’ have identities based on group and location: Scottish farmer, Cornish housewife.

Anywheres and Somewheres both include a huge variety of people and social types, but Anywheres are often members of ‘the new elite’ who think internationally and profit from rapid change, while Somewheres – ‘60 percent of British people still live within 20 miles of where they lived when they were 14’ – have long roots and favored Brexit. The United States has a similar divide.

First, a caveat. While Goodhart’s rule of thumb may apply in the smaller island nation of Britain, it is not likely to apply in the same way in the continental United States. Plenty of people who live much further away than “20 miles of where they lived when they were 14” nevertheless “have identities based on group and location” and would resonate with the Somewhere values. Having said that, I believe he’s on to something here.

In the US we speak of red states vs. blue states, the coasts vs. “flyover country,” elites vs. Hillary’s “basket of deplorables.” We have the “beltway,” Washington D.C. elected officials out of touch with the “heartland.” In Europe, unelected bureaucrats in Brussels make laws for farmers in Britain.

Somewheres vs Anywheres

The Somewheres voted for Brexit, the Anywheres voted to stay in the European Union. In the US, the “deplorables” (read Somewheres) voted for Trump, the Anywheres for Hillary Clinton. Growing movements in Italy, Hungary, France, Germany, Australia, and Holland call for a new, virtuous nationalism and shun the internationalism of Brussels. This is a revolt of the Somewheres against the Anywheres.

I have found Goodhart’s framework—the Somewheres and the Anywheres—helpful as I reflect on the great events shaping our world today.

David French expects a national divorceOlasky’s second interview, with David French, an American lawyer, journalist and fellow of the National Review Institute, framed the growing division in the US from a different angle. In the article, “A Patriots Perspective,” Olasky quotes French, “It’s not a civil war but a great divorce that looms on the horizon.”

If you are a long-time reader of this blog you know I have argued for several years that the divisions facing this nation are as great as those that triggered the Civil War. I have suggested that the culture wars reveal the depth of the divide in the USA, that we need to pray that a second bloody civil war does not break out. My argument assumed President Lincoln’s conclusion, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.

Civil War or Divorce?

Lincoln believed that a nation cannot permanently remain divided. War would ensue, a conflict to preserve the nation as one, either free or slave. In like manner, at this time in history, I have observed a battle for the soul of the USA. On the one side is the nation’s original Judeo-Christian theism, and on the other, the modern and postmodern framework of atheism. I have assumed that one side would win and the other lose, that the tipping point had come, and the forces of fundamentalist atheism had the wind at their back. Barring a move of God and a new reformation, the church would continue to recede until only an exiled remnant would remain.

But David French has challenged my thinking.

My theory is we’re not heading for a civil war: We are heading for a divorce. A civil war would imply that you care enough to fight and die to stay together, but the disdain we are beginning to feel for each other in this country is so great that if California or Texas years from now said, “We want to go our own way,” there would be an awful lot of people ready to kick them out. America now has negative polarization: You belong to the Republican or Democratic party not because you love Democratic or Republican party ideas, but because you despise the other side.

One Kingdom is Coming

The United States is two nations sharing the same geography. Europe has the same divide. The division falls along the lines of those with deep roots in the land, in the towns, the cities and the culture. These are the people from Somewhere. We have just written about Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary who represents a voice from Somewhere. And yet the nations of Europe are largely ruled by people from Anywhere who represent globalism and internationalism.

The people from Somewhere and the people from Anywhere live in different worlds in their imagination and see the external world in very different ways. They will either divorce or fight. As Christians, let us remember that the context of our lives is the coming of the kingdom of God. And may we proactively engage these times in which we live for Christ and His kingdom. Let us live in the truth.

  • Darrow Miller

Note: To further explore themes like virtuous nationalism and the danger of multiculturalism to the growth of communities and nations, go here for a pre-release special offer of a brand new edition of Darrow’s book, Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Cultures.

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).