Divided States of America

Sometimes I wonder if the South losing the Civil War was such a good thing. I don’t mean that slavery should still be a publicly sanctioned and popular practice. I do mean that Lincoln’s determination to keep the union together may have been misguided, in the long-term.

Blue states. Red States. Bipartisanship. Why? Ever heard the expression about too many chefs in one kitchen?

Real change doesn’t happen in the US because there are too many conflicting interests that need to “agree” in order to get anything done. Look at health care “reform.” So the republicans don’t want health care reform to pass, because they like things the way they are, and they also want to see a democrat motion get sunk so that the democrats will appear ineffectual and lose upcoming reelections. So the moderate democrats don’t want a public option. So they also want to put in weird anti-choice clauses. So the liberal democrats want reform so badly, they’re willing to compromise their principles. In the end, what do we end up with? Either a lot of hullabaloo about a bill that won’t pass… or a bill that doesn’t really make anyone happy.

Health care is just one example, though. Look at sex education (abstinence-only v. comprehensive), immigration, marijuana regulation, prostitution regulation, gun regulation, the death penalty, military and education spending. The supreme court is a constant flip-flop of dying and retiring judges who get replaced by “impartial” judges who are either left-leaning or right-leaning depending on who’s appointed them.

Obama is the worst example of what the “united” states faces. I have a lot of liberal friends who are disappointed in his first year in office. They had hope. They believed in change. They thought Obama was liberal (after all, the conservatives kept calling him a *gasp* socialist). Obama was never liberal. He’s moderate all the way down the line. That’s how he got elected. It’s also why he’s had trouble getting anything done.

If we had a DSA (Divided States of America) instead of a USA, I bet we would all get along better, and the two countries would get more stuff done. Sure, there would still be small internal disagreements, but in the end, a greater number of people in each country would be happier with governmental policies. In one country, abortion would be legal, the government would spend more money on education than the military, affirmative action would be commonplace, everyone could have health care, marijuana would be legal and tightly regulated (as would prostitution), and sex education would teach students how to have safer sex. In the other country, abortion would be illegal, the government would spend more money on the military than on education, there would be no affirmative action, only the rich or steadily (but not self-) employed would have health insurance, marijuana and prostitution would be illegal, and sex education would teach abstinence only.

Then you could choose what America you wanted to live in, and a lot more people would be happy, no? More importantly, a lot more useful legislation would be passed in both countries.


  1. I personally think it could be just as bad with a country that elected a majority of Democrats. My state, NY, has failed to pass a budget on time in something like 30 years. It’s not happening this year, and it’s not happening next year; people just accept it.

    For instance, the state probably has some of the worst roads in the nation and uses asphalt in our area while our county, also famed for it’s fiscal mismanagement*, actually manages to get it right and use concrete. This is one of those decisions that look asinine but everyone keeps repeating them; concrete is cheaper than asphalt if you make a relatively initial investment compared with the price of replacement. It’s like buying rechargable batteries over the expendible ones.

    Now, do I think that the federal government would get some things right that they’re not now if we had a fillibuster-proof majority of actual liberals? Absolutely. But they’d also fuck up in other spectacular ways. The committee that handles tax credits, Ways and Means, is just uniformly passing all the tax credits they’re supposed to review every year.

    *(and I’m *not* making this sound worse than it is – we had a budget gap about five years ago where the executive was seriously talking about suspending plowing and garbage pickup for a while to save money. This is in a county that’s majority-Democrat and has been majority-Democrat politicians for about as long as Dems have been liberals in the US).

  2. I think that the problem would be that, after the split, disagreements within the camps that now seem minor would become *much* more prominent – leaving you more or less in the same situation you started from.

  3. Unfortunately things are just not as locale based as the red/blue state charts would appear. In Washington (the state), we have blue urban areas and red rural. The infighting between blue and red here alone seems patently ridiculous. More and more it seems people want the law to reflect their ideals rather than to create an organizational structure. I have a feeling that splitting into two countries would only make it worse: set some kind of precedent for even more moral-based governments.

  4. I always felt the ideals of the United States (but not yet the reality) was that humans could be more than evil, selfish, and intolerant. The American Dream, the melting pot, whatnot. Splitting up would mean we wouldn’t have to be so tolerant of others with different views.

  5. I dunno, go a bit further back and there was a split – US and Canada, and Canada seems to fit most of the liberal requirements.

    Abortion is legal here and we have universal health care. People complain about not spending enough money on education, but university is much cheaper here than in the US and I pretty much never hear about Canada’s military. Marijuana’s not legal, but I do hear about safe sex from my university’s health center. Also, prostitution itself is not illegal – just many of the activities surrounding it (eg. operating or being in a brothel, soliciting it in a public place). As an added bonus, Canada has legalized gay marriage.

    What’s wrong with coming to Canada? It doesn’t snow all the time, I promise. ;)

    Also, as Obremski pointed out, the divide isn’t tidy enough to divide the country along. Where would the line be drawn? Why wouldn’t the same parties just form in both countries?

  6. If you read the constitution, there should now be 50 sovereign states, but we have evolved into the United State of America. The Federal government has through the use of reapportionment of taxes taken away the sovereignty of the individual states. Return to the Constitution and I think many positive changes could easily be accomplished based on differing needs and rational solutions to those needs as determined by the state governments. Federal government should only intrude where absolutely necessary. All taxes should be collected by the States and each state should then provide it’s appropriate share to running the Federal government. Eliminate the Federal government as the middle man in use the savings to fund state spending instead.

  7. We have a Constitution which is supposed to address these things, but it only works if it is adhered to. Take for instance the 10th Amendment (part of our “Bill of Rights”). It says that whatever powers the national government has must be specifically enumerated in the Constitution; and that any powers which are NOT specifically granted to the national government BY the Constitution are reserved to the States and the People.

    I have a paperback copy of the Constitution. It’s a little thing that easily fits in a shirt pocket. I have read it cover to cover many times, and NO WHERE in its pages can I find any authorization for the national government to be involved at all in any with:

    Old Age Pensions
    Labor unions

    etc ad nauseum…

    Yet we have federal departments of Education, Energy, Food and Drugs, Labor, etc. And csars (CSARS?!!) to enforce these unauthorized federal policies upon the States and the People.

    If the national government remained within it’s Constitutional boundaries, we could truly be the United States rather than the Fractured Federalist Territories.

    The two major parties have both demonstrated that they have no respect for the Constitution, nor for any boundaries whatsoever on federal power. It’s way past time for a “third” party to return the US back to it’s Constitution. Perhaps 2010 will be the year that will see the rise of such a party, or the Secession of States from the ever-expanding encroachments of the national government upon their own rights, and those of the People.

  8. Kudos to the Canada comments – if McCain had won, I was planning on emigrating.

    As to the Constitution comments, well intentioned though they may be, in my opinion they miss the mark. States never had, nor were they intended to have, complete sovereignty. If you’ve read it cover to cover many times, I suggest paying closer attention to Article VI paragraph 2, or the Supremacy Clause, which puts the Constitution and Federal law above any state law.

    One final thing; rather than split the nation into two states, why not a more regional approach? California, for example, could easily be a country. The swath of land from Arkansas through the Carolinas could be its own as well, as could the great plains/great lakes states, as could the northeast metropolis.

  9. Why not? Works for Europe. Perhaps we should push for regional accents to quickly evolve into separate languages, too…

  10. Individual and Robin are right on… the states are too have the power… there is no way you are going to get all the states or both parties to agree on something that is supposed to work for all of America… that is why the federal gov was supposed to have limited powers… then the states could decide what they need. if the people of one state decided they wanted everyone to have health care then they could do that in their own state. the people have more power on the local level.

  11. An interesting idea you post. One Union, indivisible: it seemed like a good idea at the time. I like the South, I like Southerners, too (black and white); but they’re too conservative, too unbending in their notions of right and wrong, too militaristic. If they had won their independence in ’63 or so it wouldn’t have been long before they got into trouble with an stronger power–Britain, probably, or Spain, over Cuba. Or another grab at Mexico. God knows where they’d be today. They’d probably be a 3rd world nation, only white: like Russia.

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