E Pluribus Duo: A Thought Experiment

A little over 150 years ago, in our nation’s relative infancy, the Union was geographically and philosophically divided over the issue of states’ rights only to be forcibly reassembled in a bloody war costing tens of thousands of American lives.

As the dust settles from the Presidential election of 2012, I can’t help but think we are a nation hopelessly divided not as much along geographic lines, but certainly along ideological ones on the vision of what kind of nation and society we want to be.

The rhetoric we hear from our elected representatives and employ ourselves has become so polarized that I fear that at best gridlock will prevail and, at worst, bloody conflict may be in our future.

To that end, I believe I have a semblance of a plan that could avert unnecessary bloodshed and ultimately satisfy the desires of most Americans.

Simply put, the United States of America cannot continue to exist. As radical as it may sound, I propose the creation of two new nations, and I will leave the naming of the two countries entirely up to its new citizens. For now I will call them Left and Right. For geographic simplicity I will arbitrarily use the Mississippi River as the boundary of the two new nations and allow citizens a reasonable amount of time to relocate to their new desired homeland. Once again for geographic simplicity Nation “Right” will be found east of the Mississippi and Nation “Left” will be found west of the great river. Both nations will begin with the same U.S. Constitution adopted in 1789 but will be free to interpret it as they see fit (which, quite frankly, has undoubtedly been a primary source of the aforementioned ideological polarization and necessitating the creation of two nations from one).

The creation of the two new nations will be based upon, but not limited to, the following issues. While not every citizen will be enamored with each and every position taken by their fledgling nation, there should be enough there to at least make every citizen more content and comfortable than they presently are as they take up with like-minded souls.

While each of the below issues are incredibly far more complex than a simple sentence or two can explain, these sentences will form the basis for the policies and philosophies of each nation…

Income Tax

Left
The present U.S. Tax code will be employed. However, a more progressive scale will be created modeled after the percentages used just prior to the Kennedy Administration where top marginal income tax rates were above 90%. A sizeable number of lower income individuals will pay no income tax.

Right
Nation “Right” will employ a flat income tax and all deductions will be eliminated. No one will be exempted from the flat income tax.

National Budget

Left
Deficit spending will be allowed and year to year debt can accrue without limit in order to pay for the expenses of the nation.

Right
A Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution will be one of the first orders of business for the new government.

Energy

Left
The nation will continue to import fossil fuels from other countries; however exploration and development of such fuel reserves will be made illegal in “Left” nation. Investment will be made in developing energy sources such as solar panels and wind mills.

Right
The nation will explore for fossil fuels on shore and off. The use of coal and nuclear energy will be promoted and a goal of energy independence from other countries will be adopted.

Health Care

Left
A move to a single payer (government) system for all citizens will be completed with the basis being what has become known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare”.

Right
A free market system is planned. Citizens will choose whether to own a health insurance policy or not. Safety nets for indigent and/or elderly will be in place with programs resembling Medicaid and Medicare. Stricter oversight will be given to fraud by both patient and health care practitioner.

Welfare

Left
Other programs outside of health care such as Food Stamps and Aid to Families with Dependent Children shall continue and be expanded. There will be no limitations to the extent of time one may avail themselves to a social welfare program. There shall be no requirement to work while being dependent upon these government safety nets. Additional benefits will be provided to families currently receiving benefits as more children are added to the family.

Unemployment Insurance benefits will be provided without limit and there shall be no need to prove a search for employment continues while collecting this benefit.

Right
Safety nets for those in need will be provided. Requirements to work for those able to do so will be initiated while receiving any government benefit. There will be no increased benefit for families currently receiving government benefits if another child is added to the family.

Unemployment Insurance benefits will be provided. Strict oversight will be initiated in that benefit recipients must provide documentation that a job search continues while receiving this benefit.

Abortion

Left
A right to an abortion at any stage during a pregnancy will rest with the mother and the mother alone.

Right
Abortion will be illegal unless the physical health of the mother is in jeopardy.

Social Security

Left
Social Security will continue as before. No changes to retirement age eligibility. When desired, the Social Security Trust Fund may go into deficit for anticipated payments to future retirees in order to pay for regular budgetary costs.

Right
Social Security will continue. However, retirement age eligibility will rise as national life expectancy rises. Additionally, citizens will be allowed to privately invest a portion of the funds earmarked for the Social Security Trust fund in pre-approved and relatively conservative investment vehicles. The Social Security Trust Fund can never be raided to balance the regular budget.

Diversity and Affirmative Action

Left
A new Cabinet position will be created led by the Secretary of Diversity. Laws will be created that will mandate that all hiring in both the public and private sector, and admissions to both public and private schools will be based upon the prevailing percentages of various sub-groups living in “Left” nation. Diversity will be achieved by race, gender, age, religion (or lack thereof), national origin, sexual orientation, and any other conceivable demographic. While merit will still be considered, it is possible and likely that it will be of secondary importance to fulfilling the mandates of diversity laws.

Right
While diversity will be celebrated in “Right” nation, it cannot be used as a basis for employment or admissions to educational institutions. Merit will be the primary factor for hiring and school admissions.

Labor Unions

Left
Labor Unions and collective bargaining will be encouraged, if not mandated at every level of employment; both public and private. Employees will not be allowed to opt out of the Union if a Union has already been established at the work place.

Right
Labor Unions will be allowed with an open vote of employees. With a Union present, employees will still be allowed to opt out of contribution to and participation in said Union. Unions will not be permitted for public sector employment.

First Amendment

Left
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will remain intact with the following change. Where heretofore the phrase “separation of church and state” was nowhere found in the U.S. Constitution, it will now be inserted and the concept of Freedom of Religion will be changed to a Freedom of or from religion.

Right
No changes to this amendment. The language contained therein will be strictly followed. The “establishment clause” will prevail but not be over-interpreted.

Second Amendment

Left
The Second Amendment will be removed from the Constitution and it shall become illegal for any non-government person to own or carry a firearm.

Right
The Second Amendment will itself be amended to clearly state that law abiding citizens shall be allowed to own firearms.

National Defense

Left
Left nation will provide for a small armed force to defend itself. It will not maintain a military presence in other parts of the world. Left nation will defer to the United Nations (headquarters will be relocated to San Francisco) for international peacekeeping and military actions.

Right
Right Nation will maintain a formidable armed forces and will maintain a military presence throughout the world to protect its interests abroad.

Immigration

Left
Immigration policy will have oversight by the Secretary of Diversity. Any undocumented resident will be immediately granted citizenship to be afforded all the rights and benefits available in Left nation.

Right
Immigration will be welcome in Right nation, but under tight guidelines. Undocumented residents will be deemed illegal. Illegal residents will not be provided any of the rights and benefits afforded to citizens of Right Nation and a concerted effort will be made to return illegal residents from whence they came.

**Most Important** A well-guarded physical barrier will be placed along the Mississippi River (the previously agreed upon border of Right and Left nations) in order to stem the anticipated flow of illegal aliens seeking a better life in Right nation.