There has been a lot of focus on Kansas this week and the bill that passed the house there. HB2453 would modify the Kansas state Religious Freedom Restoration Act — Kansas along with 17 other states implemented these acts in an attempt to uphold Christian beliefs about same-sex marriage, abortion and other issues.
HB2453 seeks to modify the act, by replacing the current burden of proof from being substantial to being simply burdensome. In other words, instead of being an actual infringement on a person’s religious practice (as protected under the 1st amendment of the US constitution) it changes the burden of proof to something that is merely annoying. In effect, they are seeking to legislate a religious viewpoint, contrary to both the 1st and 14th amendments of the US constitution.
If you live in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Kansas, or New York your state has already passed Religious Freedom Restoration Acts that require only minimal scrutiny by the courts in terms of burden of proof.
The only reason these laws have not made it to federal status is that the Senate is controlled by the Democrats and the President has the power of veto. This is unlikely to remain the case in 2016. Pundits are suggesting that Jeb Bush will be the most likely Republican Presidential candidate, and that Hillary Clinton will run as the Democrat candidate. That would be a disaster for America.
The Bushes are an institution for Republicans; they have also been here before — a Bush replacing a Clinton is historical fact, why would history not repeat itself? While Jeb Bush might not be a radical Republican in the sense that Rand Paul, Ted Cruz or some of the other Tea Party favorites are, he is, like any other GOP candidate, going to feel immense pressure from that part of the party, especially if he has a successful bid for the Presidency.
Politics is about trades. The Tea Party will demand, and secure, a large number of concessions in exchange for not blocking other bills. For example, a stricter view of marriage, abortion, employment and State rights in exchange for a more relaxed view on immigration. Jeb Bush, though distancing himself presently from his previous stance on immigration, could easily resurrect his previous, more relaxed, view on immigration.
This is not theory, and the vote against HB2453 by the Kansas Senate is not a victory for liberal thinking. It is simply a pause in the tidal wave of ultra-conservatism sweeping across America.
The question is not a matter of if, but when, these changes will happen. It is not unimaginable that stricter controls on abortion, the removal of Federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and the removal of State level benefits for same-sex couples could be enacted by 2018.
The question is what will happen after this? Large corporates helped influence the Senate in Kansas, but would companies like AT&T really move their operations to states that are more favorable toward their employees when the Federal government isn’t supportive of those rights?
So why do I claim that a Republican victory would see the end of the Union? Is it simply linkbait? I argue not. The Union is based on alliances, agreements and most importantly, economic advantage. If individuals have their rights removed in one part of the country, but can access those rights in another state and make a move that is economically beneficial to them, why wouldn’t they?
As the ultra-conservative viewpoint creates an increasingly polarized country people, are likely to move based less on economic opportunity and more on rights opportunity. Imagine population shifts based on strict pseudo-religious laws, those in favor moving to states that support their world view, and those not in favor moving away. This is not unimaginable. This type of movement, both physical and economic, is why the South lost the war before the first shot was fired. The North held the economic advantage. Just as the Southern states during the pre-Civil war era viewed the North as industrial and soulless, while viewing themselves as following a natural order that moved at a human pace, so today the ultra-conservative view themselves as following the will of God and those opposing them as Godless heathens.
In a country that is divided along religious lines, there is no economic advantage. Look at the war that divided the former Yugoslavia for evidence of that.
“But America isn’t some ‘backwoods’ European state, it is one of the world’s largest economies,” I hear you cry. “America has weathered upheaval before and come out stronger.” This is very true, but the pain of that growth, approx 750,000 deaths in the last Civil War, would equate to approx 7.8M deaths based on current population numbers, if the deaths occurred in the same ratio.
Why would anyone fight that war? The only reasonable alternative is to break up the Union.