I think it would be interesting to split this country in two. Perhaps that should have happened ages ago during the Civil War. Perhaps we should have broken up at the Mason Dixon line and parted ways as two incompatible friends with fond memories. But since we didn’t, and since Abraham Lincoln’s “united we stand; divided we fall” speech is turning into an eerily accurate prophecy, I think it’s time for just such an experiment in ideology.
So here is my proposal: Let’s separate the nation. We’ll call it a trial separation if you like, but let’s go our separate ideological ways and see what happens. Logistically, we would have to opt for some kind of European Union style pact whereby both trial nations get to use the same currency and travel freely across borders. We could both take the existing structure of the U.S. government and the existing constitution. But that’s where the similarity would end.
On the liberal side, we could socialize to our bleeding hearts’ content because people who would choose to live here would know that we are stronger acting collectively than as individuals. We could have health care for all people, an equitable educational system that isn’t based on the wealth of the surrounding communities, prisons that reform rather than lock away, and myriad other policies based on sound research and scientific study. We would take a clue from other social democracies such as Switzerland, Denmark, France, and Australia where quality of life is highest. Yes, we would pay more taxes, but they would be fairer taxes, and the benefits that come with them would outweigh the costs.
On the conservative side, they could individualize and privatize and religiolize to their hearts’ content because people who would choose to live there would know that pulling oneself up by the bootstraps and believing in Jesus Christ is all it takes. They could work hard and save and get the best of what they can pay for as individuals with no interference from government. They could do away with all government spending, all financial regulations, and pay minuscule taxes for a military and little else. They could have a national religion and make moral policies law. They could all go to private schools and drive gigantic SUVs and pollute their natural environment as much as they like. They could build a giant fence around their nation and isolate themselves from the rest of the world for as long as they live.
Either scenario sound idyllic? Well why wait?
The Sarah Palins, Newt Gingriches, and Mitt Romneys of the world are never going to convince liberals that their individualistic way of thinking is correct (because by all measurable standards it isn’t). And I’m certainly not ever going to be able to convince conservatives that “public” is not a bad word or that they consistently vote against their own best interests (even though it’s true).
So why do we insist on staying married? For the kids? Because we’re sure not doing our descendants any favors with all of this fighting.
Isn’t it time for an amicable separation?