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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Let the Slave States Go

A civil war was fought to keep the union and get rid of slavery. Overcoming slavery is essential for human progress. But preserving the union has questionable results. The polarization that still exists between the former slave states of the South and the rest of the nation seems to be unmanageable. Perhaps it is time to let the Confederacy go--or at least those states (or parts of them, e.g. southern VA, Central Valley California) who want to return to the Confederacy.

There has to be some consensual contract that founds a union. That doesn't mean agreement on everything, and certainly not on all policy initiatives.  But at least fundamental values and their meanings need to be understood similarly so that constructive argument can occur. And some of the most basic meanings of some of the most basic values are radically different. So much so that the "founding documents" and the "constitution" mean very different things to citizens.

As I have demonstrated earlier: Freedom, Justice, Equality, Wealth, Transcendence, Science, Human Nature can have fundamentally different meanings.   They certainly do mean different things in the more conventional South than in the more progressive north.

Before the Civil Rights movement, the Democratic Party held together the conservative Dixiecrats and northern, especially unionized, laborers and the Republican Party held together liberal plutocrats of the industrialized north and budding industrialists of the South.  That has all changed. There is no room for so-called moderate or liberal Republicans, as my father was, in the North.  Indeed a northern moderate Republican had to give in on all social and economic issues in order to get the Republican nomination.

And the Democrats now face a South that is solid against progressive policies with little hope of compromise. It is plausible that both parties would do better in separate unions. There could be blue northern Republicans emphasizing fiscal austerity for all except the rich but libertarian on social issues with northern Democrats still pushing for the poor and service workers.  And in the South, there could be Democrats making sure with Republicans that traditional religious values predominate but being more populist than business minded Republicans.  In such a condition there would be more opportunity to work things out because the factions share the same definitions and values though represent diverse interests. Which is pretty much how things worked in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and into the 70s.

And an independent South could defend its borders against the Hispanic hoards with higher walls and more militias. They could preserve their precious death penalty, statutes against homosexuality and gay marriage, outlaw contraception and abortion, outlaw the teaching of evolution, defend all people's access to assault weapons, do nothing about climate change or their increasing floods and droughts, get rid of all federal regulation even so far as interstate commerce, food and drugs, clean air and water, deny the right to organize, and make fundamentalist Christianity the religion of the Confederacy. Many businesses and people in the North would be attracted to such a nation.

Here are some arguments against the split along with solutions:

1.  Geography no longer means as much in the new global economy dominated by plutocrats and companies that are really international. The split is not geographic but between Wall Street and Main Street, i.e. between the financiers, their corporate concerns and wannabes and the laborers and servant class including professionals. Even so there are different kinds of plutocrats that could be applied to the two different countries. There are the social darwinists to be sure who believe they got it all by themselves and there are others who want to partner with government to even things up a bit. Donald Trump go south. Warren Buffet stay north.

2.  Although there are solid red and blue states, there are many in all those states who do adopt different views than those in power. E.g. Mississippi representatives have voted consistently for the Ryan budget which would terribly hurt poor white and black families in rural Mississippi. Some states now do not pass on existing federal programs to the poor if they have to come up with a match. School, bus, and lunch counter segregation would no doubt return. To counter this there would be needed some latitude and support for wholescale migration--both ways.  Let the people seeking a new opportunity in a more liberal atmosphere come North.  And I know lots of people in rural Navada, in California's Central Valley, southern Ohio and Kentucky who would be much more at home in Dixie.

3. The military could be weakened even though there might be some NATO type arrangement for North America. Perhaps in the process we could actually form treaties among four countries building on NAFTA: Canada, The United States, the Confederate States, and Mexico.

Just a modest proposal. Worth discussing, no? At least to clarify where we stand as citizens.

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