If America can’t pull it together, if we ultimately divide into camps and abandon all willingness to work together, if we become too resistant to compromise on anything anymore ever again, then before we break out into full-on civil war, I want to present an alternative solution, a failsafe against mass violence. I don’t think we’re there yet, but if the time comes, maybe someone will remember seeing this possibility, this way out, and raise it.
First, we must ask if America really is a place where polar opposites in worldview can peacefully co-exist? If yes, then wonderful. This writing becomes a meaningless exercise in excessive precaution, because that means that no matter how wide the chasm grows between our ideologies, lifestyles, or convictions, the framework of America provides space for that. I hope that our founding fathers were so brilliant. I suppose it remains to be seen.
But if the people of a nation can reach a point of irreconcilable differences that are clear and enduring, then, like a married couple, we should resort not to killing each other, but to embarking on a legal, and hopefully amicable separation.
In that event, the goal will be to divide the United States into 2 newly independent nations along a geographic boundary: America 1, and America 2. The conservative, Republican, Libertarian, right-wing camp is America 1 (because I don’t think they could stand being America 2), and the liberal/progressive, Democratic, Green camp is America 2 (because they don’t give a shit).
For starters, we agree that we’re not going to kill each other. In fact, if only for the paperwork, we sign a binding Peace Treaty right away. We agree upfront to peaceful and fair negotiation, and that the agreed upon terms will be binding. A panel of democratically elected judges will ultimately adjudicate without bias. Their charge will be simply to ensure fairness and equality in the division of the nation.
Equality of division is guaranteed because, during this process, no one will know which half of the country either side will get. A Separation Committee, formed of both liberal and conservative members, will be created and charged with working together to hammer out where the border is drawn. The committee will contain experts in natural resources, demographics, geography, the power grid, transportation, asset valuation, economics, defense, law, religion, etcetera. Halving the United States doesn’t necessarily mean splitting it into equal acreage. All factors will be considered in the pursuit of equality. The goal is to create 2 halves, either of which are just as satisfactory and acceptable to both camps.
The committee will have 1 full year to reach an agreement. If they can’t agree, the panel of judges will make a final determination. A coin is minted that is heads and tails, and evenly weighted on both sides. The coin will remain under constant public surveillance once minted. A lottery of all Americans will determine who flips it. If they are unable, a new name will be selected. Then, at a very public event, this person will flip the coin to determine who gets which half. And once the coin lands, it’s set.
The transition will be gradual, spanning seven to ten years. Both America 1 and America 2 will start with the Constitution and all laws, as they now exist. No new changes to Federal law are to be made during the transition. Federal aid will be available one time to every American who wants to move to a place that is in their chosen nation. All Federal agencies, including the military will divide equally, duplicating themselves in both new Americas. Corporations will ultimately become incorporated in the land of their choosing but they must have a physical headquarters or base of operations in that nation. The devil is always in the details but decisions can always be made when they must be.
Once the transition is complete, the people of each new sovereign nation are free to modify their nation according to their collective will. America 2 might change its name to The United States of Cascadia, provided they wind up with the Pacific Northwest. They can have universal health care, well-funded public schools through four years of college, net neutrality, legal marijuana, 0 assault rifles, and strict regulations on monopolies and banking if they so choose. America 1 might elect to change its name to ‘Merica. They can have private everything, public nothing, guns galore, 0 regulations on commerce, 0 legal abortions, and they can do away with the separation of church and state clause. In the beginning, both sides will use the existing mechanisms of American governance and democracy that they have inherited to effect any change. If either wants to dissolve, modify, or add something to their new nation, they put it on the ballot. If they want to do away with ballots all together, it first goes on the ballot.
The end result is that we then have 2 nations, bound to peace by treaty, each made up of friends and family members with whom we engage in mutual peace and defense efforts, and in daily commerce, being each other’s strongest ally, yet free of the obstructionism and the constant foiling of the other’s political influence. And we did it all without firing a single shot.
Regardless of where we might pinpoint the beginning of this vast divide between left and right ideology that we have today, I’m not sure there is any putting the genie back in the bottle. Maybe a new version of the Fairness Doctrine would help keep the hard-right and hard-left from becoming so firmly indoctrinated. But it feels like it’s too late for that. So can we divide further, yet still remain under the same, limited umbrella? If so, is there a limit? Is there a point where we say, “you know what, this just isn’t working. I love you, but I can’t live with you anymore. We need to separate.” If there is, then we need a contingency plan in place now. We may be nearer that point that we think.