Another Modest Proposal


Reading time – 5:35  .  .  .

We are locked in an increasingly bloody and always hateful conflict. Red America and Blue America think in different ways, speak different languages, recognize different facts and are unable to communicate with one another except with threats and mean-spirited accusations. The differences and animosities are growing and the situation seems to be intractable. Writes Anand Giridharadas, We Are In A Cold Civil War. I think he’s right. David Frum has written that Trump Is a Secessionist From The Top and his followers seem to revel in how separate they are from the rest of us. Truth be told, I’m weary of it all.

I’m sick of the hateful speech and the denials and contortions of reality. I’m disgusted by the ever more common brandishing of assault weapons by strutting tough guys. I’m offended by the easy acceptance and even the promotion of criminality at the top. And I’m disheartened by the obvious welcoming of fascism by followers of this autocratic, dictator-wannabe president. There seems to be no courage left in Red America to commit to what many of us had thought was the American way. There don’t seem to be many patriots left who will stand and be counted when it’s time to stop a tyrant. That says to me that there may be no possibility of narrowing the chasm of our national divide.

Well, I have a solution – a modest proposal. I confess it isn’t original. I read something about this many years ago when the first storm clouds of our cold civil war reached the horizon. It seemed absurd at the time; not so much now.

Since we are already steadfastly, both by culture and core values, unaligned, we’ll formally divide America into two independent, nations. For the most part the geographic division will be easy. We’ll just separate out all the steadfastly red states, like South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Utah, Indiana and West Virginia. There will be some difficulty in placing the purple states, like Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio. The rest will be Blue State America. You get the idea.

We’ll have details to iron out, like border protections and passport requirements, trade and the decision of which America gets to keep DC and the stars and stripes. Plus, we’ll have to figure out who gets the might of our military and yet more questions.

A benefit of this solution is that Red State Americans will get to keep their Confederate statues and memorials and will be able to proudly display Confederate battle flags. They can choose the facts and reality that suit them. All those proud, rugged individuals will be able to walk with heads held high, chest out, safe with their concealed carry and in the knowledge that no elite* weenies from Blue State America will be dictating their fates or limiting their freedoms. No overblown government bureaucracy will take their money and regulate them to death.

Gone will be the self-important scientists telling them to wear a mask and stay out of churches and bars. They won’t have to justify going to Trump rallies by claiming patriotism or announce they’re accepting of the consequences of refusing pandemic protections, only to hear Blue State Americans tell them that their freedoms stop at the tip of the next person’s nose. In fact, they’ll be able to go about their business in the certainty that COVID-19 is a hoax.

There will be no more federal government standing in the way of their personal liberty. The new Red State American government will be benign and will never intrude on their lives. And there’s even more for Red State Americans.

They’ll be able to listen to their president’s “straight talk” and not be bothered by Blue State American busy-bodies howling about how his straight talk is actually a pack of lies. They won’t have to listen to audio recordings of the president proving his homicidal dishonesty leading to tens – maybe hundreds – of thousands of American deaths. They won’t have to listen to Blue State Americans whine about his over 20,000 lies to the public (over 16 per day, every day).

There are a couple of points that will be important for Red State Americans to know. For example, those horrible things that FDR created, like Social Security and the terrible things Lyndon Johnson did, like Medicare and Medicaid, will disappear for them. Each citizen will be on their own to pay for all of their own healthcare, including when catastrophic health issues arise. They’ll simply have to deal with their lifetime of debt. Each will have to fund all of their own retirement. Failure to do so will cause them to live in abject poverty until death finally brings relief at the end of their rugged individualism, pretty much as it was before Social Security.

This national split will have substantial business impact, too. For example, Fox News will relocate from Manhattan in New York to Manhattan in Kansas, a huge cost saving. Koch Industries will be perfectly positioned in Wichita to take control of the Red State American oligarch government.

Click me for a full scale map

There are important issues of independence to consider and Alabamians, for example, will have to do some adjusting. Once separated into two countries, Alabama will no longer get back $2.02 for every $1 they send to DC. It’s a similar balance in West Virginia ($2.08 for every $1 sent to DC), South Carolina ($1.62) and for most of Red State America. Economic life is going to become much more challenging in those places, as funding for roads, bridges, schools, healthcare, disaster relief and more becomes either far more individually burdensome or they will have to dramatically ratchet down their way of life. Of course this change will create an economic windfall for all in Blue State America, who will no longer have to fund Red State America.

Still, this separation will give everyone what they want. We can stop accusing and attacking one another and each make our own way. Gone will be charges of racism one way and burdensome elitism the other way. No longer will we argue about protests or whose life matters or whether our troops are losers and suckers. We’ll end our contentiousness over the president’s supplication to authoritarians and his solicitations for foreign election interference. Each America can choose its own allies or none at all. It’s the ultimate freedom of choice.

So, there is our way forward, just when it seemed there wasn’t one. Take a deep breath and begin to make the decision where you’ll want to live.

To put a fine point on this, read Eugene Robinson’s essay on Trump’s racism, and – this is critical – watch the 11-minute video embedded in his piece, Voter Suppression Never Went Away. It Evolved. Once we split up the country, we won’t have to worry about such things.

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End of satire. What follows is deadly serious.

From Harlan Coben’s The Boy From The Woods, page 285:

”  .  .  .  it will now be easy to destroy the social order. The middle has become complacent. They are smart, but they are lazy. They see the grays. They get the other side. Extremists, on the other hand, see only black and white. They are not only certain that their vision is absolutely correct, but they are incapable of even understanding the other side. Those who don’t believe as they do are lesser in every way, and so they will kill for that vision.”

“Extremists are relentless. They don’t see right or wrong – they see us and them.”

I’ve been warning of creeping autocracy and fascism for a long time (click here for a list of some of those posts). It’s easy to pin that clear and present danger on Trump, but it’s critical that you see him as the embodiment of the forces of absolutism running hellishly in our society. Trump is both the repugnant inciter of rage and a tool of the brutal, angry mob. He wouldn’t be in office or be getting away with his criminality, his cruelty and the destruction of our democracy if there weren’t millions of people who want that, who think his behavior is okay, who believe the end justifies the means. It doesn’t matter to them how evil and eventually tyrannical both the end and the means will prove to be.

That is why we must not be complacent. That is why we dare not be lazy.

Vote to stop this insanity. Help to register others to vote – click here and scroll to the Opportunities section for resources to make a difference. Encourage everyone you know to vote. Early voting has already started, so there is no time for delay. Act now, because there may not be another chance.

This is the only way.

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  • * Do you remember when “elite” was a good thing? That was before Barack Obama became president. He was monstrously bright and knowledgeable and had checked all the “smart” boxes, so white guys felt threatened and “elite” got warped into a negative thing and has been used ever since as a dog whistle for racist animosity.
  • “Elite” was good back when we wanted the best and brightest to be the ones who thought through our toughest challenges. “Elite” meant “the best.” Clearly, we have need for some truly elite people right now.

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  1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings, so don’t bug me about it.
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JA


Copyright 2020 by Jack Altschuler
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4 Responses to Another Modest Proposal
  1. David L. Lindgren Reply

    Jack, well then, let’s be elite and go for the highest good. And I don’t think that you have schizophrenia in your family whereby there is a split right down the middle of the essential self. It sounds easy to split off and assign each to different “countries”. No, we need to believe in higher purpose and after defeating Trump to find some means of healing in this country. It might take a decade or two but taking severe measures will create more problems.

    We are in the midst of deep challenges and changes. I find in working with dysfunctional families that efforts to “fix”, “correct”, “cure” the system almost always backfires. It finally takes time and patience and increasing trust to heal the wounds within. We need to step into them and find the “higher good”. I personally believe that although it might take more than one administration, this country needs to heal its wounds and practice what we preach, which is . . . write a column on that subject . . . what is the highest good in this country.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Well said. I’ll have to think about “the highest good in this country.” This is worthy of more than a philosophical aphorism or a feel good phrase for a bumper sticker or tee shirt. A useful definition doesn’t jump to mind. Who can help with this?

      • RON KUROWSKI Reply

        I’m don’t know how David understands the phrase “the highest (higher) good in this country. But I think where he is going is important. I would state it a little differently. What are the set of core values that we share that binds us together as a country? A set of values that are revered by enough people to overcome adversity and controversy. The kind of values and beliefs that got this country though the Great Depression, the Second World War and the passage of historic civil rights legislation in the 60’s.

        How many times have we heard after some outrageous incident such as the caging of immigrant children, we hear people say, “We’re not like that”? If we are not like “that”, what are we like?

        Ron

  2. Jim Altschuler Reply

    I had to read this in 2 separate sittings; the levels of sarcasm and snark were more than I could digest in a single sitting. This was mostly because of the accuracy and correct implications. One question: Will this schism apply to California as well, dividing the state into 3?