What's stopping the US from being split into two countries?

I’m not from the US and being in a Southeast Asian country where neighboring countries are under military control, has frequent coups and political uprising, I am wondering about the possibility of a civil war. With the US being polarized between two major parties, what are the mechanism in place to prevent the country going into armed conflict?

(Perhaps a related question is - the higher ups in the armed forces. Do they vote? What’s stopping them from planning anything?)

We tried it once.
It didn’t turn out so well.

The ghost of Abraham Lincoln.

The U.S. isn’t polarized into two sections. The whole business of red and blue states is wildly exaggerated. Even if it were true that the U.S. was as polarized as claimed, breaking it into the red states and the blue states wouldn’t make any sense, since they aren’t compact areas. It’s even more complicated if you look at a map of the U.S. broken up into red (Republican) and blue (Democratic) counties. There’s just no convenient way to break it up into two compact areas. Each part would be a patchwork of small, non-contiguous bits.

I get the part about the red/blue does not form continuous spots, but seeing how emotions and ‘the base’ have been stirred up, what’s preventing outbreak of full-scale violence?

PS. If all this sounds bewildering, Southeast Asia is a crazy place. In Singapore, you have to go a predesignated spot for rallies and protests, which is just next to a police station. In Malaysia, bloggers get arrested for calling on judges for racist remarks. Coups take place in Thailand and people in Indonesia just takes things in their own hands at times. So yeah, the US can be quite puzzling to me.

Uh, the fact that no one wants to? I mean, are feeling an urge to grab a machete and start murdering your neighbors who voted wrong?

We’re just not that polarized. People are not so strongly identified with their party that they no longer see their opponents as people; they’re not African tribes that define every aspect of the members’ lives.

Vox Imperatoris

Democratic government, rule of law, civil rights, etc etc

A violent uprising presumes a significant part of the population feels like they have nothing less to lose. We’re just not there. By and large, Americans are fabulously well-off. Whatever happens in the election, it’s not worth dying over.

We don’t share our politics as much in person. I work in a small company of 30 people, I know who 2 of them voted for. I could say the same for my family. It would be impossible to find the enemy to start a rampage against.

Plus, you seen how fat we are lately? We fight over the internet, and still get winded.

I think a lot of it is due to the fact that, no matter how it may seem to the outside world or even to ourselves, the ideological differences between the two major American parties just aren’t that great. We may talk about the far right and the far left…but superposed on the political spectrum of most other countries, those would be more like “center-center-right” and “right-center-right”. You need giant chasms of ideological separation before you’re ready to start killing each other. And while we magnify our differences tremendously, especially around election time, the vast majority of Americans are in the same general ballpark politically.

I think ideologically Americans have been ‘conditioned’ to have a very strong sense of being a large community, and to have loyalty to other Americans. I always find it amusing when the EuroDopers act so puzzled that Americans like flying flags and singing patriotic songs with tears glistening in our eyes, etc. They never seem to stop and ask, “Huh, I wonder why that might be.”

We have a huge country filled with millions of people of every imaginable ethnic origin and religion. We really have nothing tying us together EXCEPT that we are Americans, that we are taught to be loyal and proud of America, to defend other Americans. It’s not like in 1863 when your loyalty was to your home state. We’ve shifted to having a NATIONAL identity instead of a state or ethnic identity. Splitting into smaller units is almost unimaginable to most Americans.

We are Americans first and I am a Californian second then I usually vote my party third. I vote what I think will be best overall for my country. I have voted at different times for members for each party. Most of us vote not baised on one issue but more than one issue.

My boss normally votes different than me most of the time.

My wife and I have voted opposite of me at times. So how would we split the country.

If you look at voting colors broken down it is obvious that we are intertwined down to the street level. And because we have a constitution that clearly defines a system of transition by election we are never far away from making change.

What happened right now, the election of Barack Obama!

As I think about tonight, it is the hope of opportunity and the vision of progress. As I asked Bill Clinton, “We’re gonna get there, Bill?” and he said, “Yeah, we’re gonna get there.”

It’s a new day. It’s a new day in the malls of America, in the city parks, in the cafes and movie theatres and arenas. In the US there are demonstrations, rallies - but usually of a sports or cultural nature and not necessarily political.

Just look at the rally at the White House this night on CNN. Think about all the protests that occured in the last eight years when Bush was in the White House. It’s going to be different. It’s already different.

On second thought, never mind.

Another factor is that, despite how things may appear during the peak of a election contest, we’re not that committed to our political parties. Most Americans don’t think about politics most of the time or see their party affiliation as a permanent choice. If we ever did split up into Jesusland and the United States of Canada, most of us would end up traveling back and forth across the border.

I’m not supposed to say, but, well. Me. In fact, usually in these situations it is me.

OK, more seriously: Chuck Norris.

In the 1860s most peoples’ loyalty was to their State first and the country second. Nowadays, with people moving around so much to get work, that doesn’t apply so much.
Traditionally, commissioned officers did not even vote, because they were supposed to be above party politics. That, too, no longer applies.

Members of the US military certainly vote. We have a long tradition of civilian control of the armed forces, and officers take an oath to protect the Constitution. Loyalty to the country overrides loyalty to any given office holder.

We have a very large military with independent chains of command. Officers are trained to be instruments of policy, not makers of policy. By the time a person has risen to a position of authority he is, well, trustworthy with that authority.

Military personnel who feel they have a better idea of how to run the country wait until they are no longer actively serving and run for office. It is how we do things over here.

(I feel I am not expressing myself well. Our tradition is that the military serves the civilian populace, and our military leaders are trained and chosen to do so.)