April 17th, 2014 // 8:01 am @ Oliver DeMille
Joke for Thought
Written by Joel Stein in Time magazine (March 24, 2014), it is a blueprint for how the United States should break into two separate nations.
Consider some of what Stein wrote:
• “We should peacefully break into two countries, one made of red states and one of blue. The red one would still be called the United States of America, since it would otherwise have to alter the lyrics of every song its citizens know. The blue one would be renamed something racially inclusive and long and hard to remember. The Exceedingly Long-Named Country would be free to have the laws it has always griped about not being able to pass. Instead of guns, the cops would carry Change.org petitions.”
• “Once the blue states were their own country, they would develop a better appreciation for the South, as a foreign country they could visit when Mexico seemed like too much effort and Canada too little…. A place with the best breakfasts in the entire world. Where it’s easy to navigate since everyone speaks English, but figuring stuff out is still a bit of a fun challenge because, after all, it’s not really English. A place where you can shoot guns, drive cars with combustion engines and drink beer that isn’t painfully bitter—all at the same time.”
• “This split would in no way prevent Southerners [and Westerners] from vacationing up North for the same reasons they always have: they have relatives there and have no choice.”
Again, though meant as a joke, this describes some of the real differences between the Blue and Red states. Klein continues:
• “The South…could pass laws every month not to raise its debt ceiling since, let’s face it, no one is going to lend a Southerner money.” The North “could make environmental treaties with foreign nations about how to extract natural resources, since they’ll have no natural resources anyway.”
The Un-United States
What’s missing in Stein’s fictional proposal is how the southern red states and the western red states will get along. Since they won’t, they’ll just split too.
And what about the swing states? Florida, Ohio and West Virginia have a lot more in common with each other than most of their geographical neighbors, so maybe they’ll break away and create a fourth nation.
Colorado is part of the blue states anyway, so geography is already archaic in the new system.
But that’s just the beginning. Nevada and Utah are basically the opposite of each other, but Nevada is also the opposite of California—in a totally different way.
Nevada can’t co-exist well with either, but it can connect with Arizona and Montana.
Texas will probably want to its own nation. And that’s just the start…
Time to Stop Laughing
The more I think about it, the less funny it is. People who just want Washington to get along sometimes miss a key truth: the conflict in Washington is a lot less extreme than the conflict would be between capitol cities of competing nations.
As John Jay wrote in Federalist Paper 5:
“Should the people of America divide themselves into three or four nations…envy and jealousy would soon extinguish confidence and affection, and the partial interests of each…instead of the general interests of all America, would be the only objects of their policy and disputes. [Afterwards], like most other bordering nations, they would always be…involved in disputes and wars [with each other].”
The result, Federalist 5 said, would be, first, that America would be weak against all its foreign enemies, and second, the new blocs of states would be dangerous “and formidable only to each other.”
Why Washington Feels Broken
Sometimes it’s nice to sit back and laugh at ourselves.
Yes, Washington can be a frustrating, angry, and dysfunctional place, but it could be a lot worse. Southern and Northern California could be two separate nations, for example. Or Michigan and Ohio. Atlanta and Athens, Georgia. Manhattan and the Bronx.
Talk about conflict. The thought makes Democrat versus Republican feel tame.
The U.S. is not, at it’s essence, federal. The Founders created the federal government as a national security entity that would protect, and loosely cobble together, thirteen distinct states.
When the federal government tries to homogenize fifty unique states, treating them with a one-size-fits-all mentality, the result is dysfunction.
Washington feels “broken” today because it is. It is trying to do something it was never designed for.
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.