One of our kids had an interesting idea last week. Rather than continuing our painfully redundant national argument over bizarre Republican beliefs about science, education, sexuality, religion, economics, the environment, race and national security, why don't we just give them the South?
It would be a forced secession.The rest of the union would simply cut its ties to the South and thereby pocket the net transfer of federal tax dollars to the states of the old Confederacy. More importantly, removing these states from our Capitol Hill calculus would dramatically change our ideas about political possibility. Sure, we'd still have James Inhofe (more on that later), but removing the South would change the balance of power in the U.S. Senate from our current 58-41 deadlock to a 52-23 Democratic super-majority.
With the majority of the nation's wingnuts segregated into their own private geographical echo chamber, the rest of us would be able to hold serious discussions on topics like education reform without having to put the significant issues on hold while we indulge the paranoid rants of politically connected Creationists. By jettisoning the old Confederacy, the USA would see immediate improvements in its infant mortality, teen-pregnancy (see map above - red is bad, green is good) and murder rates. And our "Obamacare" will cost less, since we'll have dumped the states that need it most.
But these aren't the real benefits. The real reason to pull a stunt like this would be to test our competing theories of what the world is and how it works. Give the conservatives the South, and let them have their way with it. Check back in a decade and see how things worked out.
Go ahead: Rewrite history. Teach creationism. Make "foreign-looking" people prove their citizenship on demand. Make homosexuality illegal. End those "anti-business" environmental regulations. Bust unions. Cut taxes. Outlaw abortion. Deny global warming. You'll be free to have no social security, no Medicare, no health insurance, no "socialist" transfers of wealth of any kind! Stop funding those liberal public universities, or at least put some kind of test in place to prevent rampant political correctness. No longer will you have to worry about stem cells in your medicines or fluoride in your precious bodily fluids.
We keep arguing with these crazy ideas because they affect normal people who happen to live in the South, and the federal government has an interest in protecting the rights of these citizens. But once we renounce the old Confederacy, we won't have to give a tinker's damn about people like Jim DeMint or Andre Bauer or Mark Sanford. Let 'em build a more perfect union in their own image. Knock yourselves out.
Of course, we'd have to do something about non-wingnut Americans who live in these red states. The obvious solution is resettlement. Or maybe a population exchange. We'll give the Confederates Ted Nugent, they'll give us The Dixie Chicks. Paying for all this moving will be expensive, but we can probably cover a big chunk of the cost simply by applying the money the rest of the country would have spent building and maintaining roads for people who complain about having their low tax-rates subsidized by liberty-hating socialists.
Think of it: Every liberal in the South could relocate, settle down in some welcoming Blue state, and immediately start pining for sweet tea, barbecue and kudzu. Blue state economies will boom as businesses hustle to cater to the needs of homesick Southern progressives. Banana pudding sales in Seattle will skyrocket.
Then there will be the inevitable swaps. Virginia has its crazies, but it remembers what happened the last time it cast its lot with South Carolina and won't want to repeat that performance. Fine. We'll take Virginia, and maybe Arkansas, too (Sorry Florida, but you're not only too crazy, you're non-contiguous). Who wants to join the old Confederacy? Hands? OK, Arizona, we see you. You're in.
We'll have to move some companies around, too. CNN will flee Atlanta, but that's OK, because FOX News is going to be the only news source down in Dixie, and who really cares about CNN anyway? Might as well make it official.
Not that it will all go smoothly. Negotiations are bound to be tense. Somebody is going to have to take Oklahoma, and Utah is definitely going to get its feelings hurt. But I feel these are fixable problems.
Perhaps this new conservative nation will prove me wrong. But I suspect that without adult supervision, the petulant, anti-intellectual, self-aggrieved leaders of the new right will find it hard to govern, much less solve problems in an international economy. And how will they cope with failure without liberals to scapegoat?
My money says they'll blame every disaster on interference by the CIA. Leading to Confederate President Jeb Bush's decision to invade Kentucky in 2015.
Hmmm. Maybe this isn't such a great idea after all.