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From the Rejected Pile

August 31, 2017
 I wrote this in the spring of this year, long before Charlottesville, early April to judge from the opening, but decided against printing it here, on account of it had nothing to do with baseball and I’d already published a few columns that were mostly not about baseball (etymology,  poetry, voting systems) and also because I thought it would annoy people, and not in a good way.  Mainly I thought it would annoy Bill, in that it consigns him to living in a country that I obviously don’t admire very much, but since in the past few days, Bill has expressed remarkably similar ideas to those expressed here, I think I’m merely fleshing out one possible way of turning Bill’s idea into practice.  Now this is sort of odd, I think, in that the recent discussion began with Bill responding to a "Hey Bill" of mine by labelling me a "self-righteous kidney" or "self-righteous hypothalamus" (I may have gotten the body part wrong, but I never forget an accusation of self-righteousness) but we seem to be in very close accord, at least as I understand his notions of secession and union.

This was originally titled "Can we all get along?" which I’ve appended below so it makes sense, but otherwise this is my early April piece, unchanged, salvaged from the reject pile.


Can we all get along?



We can’t.

They surrendered to us 152 years ago next Sunday, us being the Union Army and them being the Rebs, but I’m starting to think that they were right. Not about slavery, of course, nor about the agrarian future of this country, nor about how long vegetables and meats should be cooked, nor really about anything, but this: the South shall rise again. As long as that’s their position, as long as Southerners insist that they never lost that war, or that they were victims of Northern aggression, or just that they don’t care who won the war, they’re going to preserve their culture and, wherever possible, impose it on the rest of us, I’m starting to agree with them. Maybe we’d just be better off as two separate countries. As that early Communist and late Goldwater-Republican John Dos Passos wrote presciently (about himself and about the country), we already are two countries. Let’s make it official.

Seems to me that we – Americans—are having the same arguments over and over and over again, never settling anything for longer than a few years at a time, bouncing violently between electing rightwing governments who overturn the previous centralized democratic-socialist government’s practices and laws, and then a new batch of decentralized unregulated free-market capitalist governments that do the same. This isn’t progress, or balance; it’s perpetual opposition, negativity, discontent, discord, and hatred. It’s institutionalized nay-saying. And it mostly comes down to North vs. South, rural vs urban, and similar things that are largely geographical in nature. So why not a simple geographical solution?

We certainly need some radical move to make progress here, instead of being stuck in this perpetual squabbling about a zillion different issues that aren’t going away: single-payer health insurance, the federal deficit, the defense budget and the role of the military,  public transportation, immigration, abortion, tobacco use, foreign aid,  torture, medical marijuana, you name it.  Why not settle all this stuff by forming two separate countries, and get on with our lives?

It won’t be easy, maybe not even possible, but wouldn’t it be lovely to settle all the above-named squabbles (and so many more) so that a clear majority in each new country would be mostly happy with the way these squabbles got resolved? Here’s what I propose:

Canada annexes the U.S. East Coast and West Coast and parts of the North Coast. (Or those parts of the U.S. annex Canada—either way. Dudn’t matter.)  By aligning with Canada, we would form two countries, each of them perfectly contiguous. (The North gets Hawai’i, though. The South gets Alaska. The North/South thing would make more sense the other way around, but non-contiguous is non-contiguous, and the politics work out better that way.)  The C.A.N.U.P.A.S.  (Canada And New United Provinces And States) would comprise all of Canada, of course, plus the East Coast as far south as Washington D.C., that hated symbol of oppression. We would, in Barry Goldwater’s colorful language, saw off the Eastern Seaboard and give the South its freedom back.  The whole West Coast would be Canupas, of course, and on the North Coast we would get Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, taking Chicago, that corrupt mess, off the South’s hands, too.




The exact states would be open to discussion. The border might get drawn, for example, somewhere in the middle of the state of Virginia instead of along the Potomac, and if we can get Arizona to sign up then we can add New Mexico and Colorado, too. All we need from Arizona is the southern part of the state, including Tucson and Phoenix.  Nevada can join the Union, too, if they want. Maybe we could extend the south up through the central part of Pennsylvania, to include that middle section that’s often nicknamed Northern Alabama plus maybe a few New York State counties west of Ithaca. State borders would be irrelevant here, so we might, for example, draw a line from Idaho’s southwestern corner south to the southwestern corner of Utah, and down through the northern section of Arizona and New Mexico, up along the Continental Divide to the middle of Wyoming. Things like that. It’s all up for grabs.


In fact the "states" as such would be irrelevant.  Inside of Canupas, we might redraw the current states far differently: perhaps New England would be one big entity (state, province, call it what you will) and New York, New Jersey and southern Connecticut another. The upper Midwest might be another, and so on, along the West Coast and the southwest states. I see Canupas realigning along larger entities, but maybe the New Confederacy would like to align along many smaller ones, so as to give the maximum power to each smaller locale to determine its own laws, with no federal bureaucracy imposing its will on any of them.




The New Confederacy can fly their Rebel flags all day long and all night if they choose to, make Christianity mandatory in their public schools, make thinking about abortion into a felony, and outlaw vaccines. They would have the Southern coast the full length of Texas all the way up the southern part of the East coast as far as the Virginia border, plus the Mississippi River all the way from New Orleans to the Ohio River, where it would then form the border between Iowa and Illinois.

Is it terrible of me to consign my progressive but Southern brethren and sistern to live their lives under Confederate rule, and worse of me to oppress those conservative northerners like Rudy Giuliani and that idiot LePage to live under oppressive Canusap rule? Hey, everybody’s free to move and live in the part of the continent where their views prevail. Personally, I would be sorry to lose Florida, where I have a house, and possibly Colorado where I have family, but like I say—hey! Everybody’s free to move….

The big issue would be what would happen to urban centers in the New Confederacy, small areas with big populations that mostly vote Blue—Austin, Raleigh, Cleveland, places like that. Some of this issue could be dealt with by finetuning the borders (I don’t think it would be too hard to get Cleveland into the contiguous Canupas, for example) but any way you slice it, you’re still going to have liberal voters living in Lawrence, Kansas, deeply unhappy living in the New Confederacy as well as farmers living in rural New Hampshire who feel alienated from the politics of Canupas. This means that minorities and gays and women in the New Confederacy will find that a lot of the progress that they’ve made over the past century has gotten undone, and I would say to them that by moving to a different part of the country, they can make more progress still, as I would say to the New Hampshire farmer complaining that his country has just gotten horrible: there’s a country next door with your precise values, speaking your language, welcoming you with open arms. Go, or else shut up about how important your values are to you.

Even if we didn’t annex Arizona and New Mexico, which opens the door to Colorado, the southern California border still leaves open the possibility of eventually annexing old Mexico as well, and still have a contiguous openly multi-lingual country, from the North Pole down to the Panama Canal. (I think I this would mean annexing Guatemala and Costa Rica and El Salvador; I’m not too solid on my Central American geography.)  We wouldn’t have (or need) a wall on our southern border, of course, because our southern border would be the northern side of the Panama Canal. We’d be one big country, just next door to another big country. But Texas would be free to construct (and pay for) whatever barrier they choose to keep our Old Mexican citizens out of the Rio Grande, and the Canupians out of the rest of their country. They can be xenophobic to their heart’s content.

I think life in this New Confederacy would be hell, of course, but New Confederates would think that life in Canupas would be worse than hell. Oddly, I think both sides would be right in this assessment, as I think both sides probably believe that each society is doomed to implode. And who knows, maybe Canupas would be overrun by furriners and become a coast to coast urban ghetto terrorized by drug-dealing transgender gangsters regularly unshackled by a liberal judiciary.  I don’t see that happening, but I do see a New Confederacy without a viable workforce (I imagine a lot of immigration to the Canupas by underpaid and exploited workers), isolated from the rest of the world.

Personally, what I’d most like to see (in the sense of "wondering" and in the sense of "put-up-or-shut-up") would be what the New Confederacy would do about its own federal government when they no longer have "Warshington DeeCee" to blame all their problems on. Would they go to a states-rights model, with an extremely weak federal government? I can’t see how that would work effectively, how they would have any sort of cohesive foreign policy, or how it would be anything other than a crazy patch-quilt of laws that change, sometimes radically, every few miles? I believe they now victimize the current federal government mostly as a means of evading responsibility for living in a pluralistic society, and blaming problems on "them" instead of solving those problems, but maybe I’m wrong. I’d like to see if I am. Best case scenario for the New Confederacy is that they could show us what a model non-centralized government looks like, freed from all federal constraints, though I see the opposite happening and  the New Confederacy begging to re-join the Canupas after a few disastrous decades. As they see with us, I’m sure.

Let’s find out. The virtue of living in a country whose values you respect outweighs for me the vice of constantly relitigating the same non-budging issues over and over.

This guy here, Kevin Baker, came up with a less radical redrawing of the map, and maybe his political "blue states exit" plan makes more practical sense than mine, but they both speak to the same impulse: Put up or shut up. The lesson I take from the election just passed is that Republicans have been campaigning forever on a platform of "Bad Federal gummint shoving us around, shoving health care down our throats, we’re smarter than you elite faggots think, we could do everything better if you give us power," and guess what? They sold that bill of goods to a majority of voters (well, a minority, but let’s not relitigate that one, too) and now they’ve got the power.  Turns out they don’t want to redesign health care, and I suspect they don’t want to do a lot of things they’ve been saying they would do if only they got the power. There are a lot of white folks on food stamps, on opioids, on expensive prescription drugs, on Social Security, on Medicaid who, push come to shove (and push has arrived),  actually want the entitlements they’ve voted against.


Do I think this can or will or should happen? Not really. But I wouldn’t lose very much if it did,  would benefit personally in many ways, as most of my political stripe would, and I think sincerely offering it (or a more modified version, such as Baker’s article proposes) will put the feet of fake Confederates into the fire, where they belong. If you’re for individualism, state’s rights, free-market Darwinian no-gummitt capitalism, then ok: you can have it. Gorge yourselves on it. But the truth is that you don’t really want those things. You just want to bitch about how the fed’ral gummitt reg’lations oppress you, when in reality they are shoveling my money your way. Put up or shut up. I’m tired of your whining.


 Here’s somebody who thinks I’m blaming the wrong people, and who thinks we all CAN get along:


COMMENTS (62 Comments, most recent shown first)

Marc Schneider
FYI Steven Goldleaf,

Please check your PM for my response to your response. And thanks for responding.
4:08 PM Sep 12th
Are you willing to pay the price? (I am and do: Munich aims for its electricity generation to be 100% green by 2025. It costs, but it's worth it.)

Solar, wind and biomass are catching up, which is a good thing. There are still intermittency issues, which contribute to the costs, but no doubt they'll be solved over time.

What I'm saying is that we've blown a 20-year opportunity to reduce carbon emissions by failing to use nuclear as an interim source (as France and Germany have, though Germany is phasing it out). During that time, the alternative to nuclear was not solar and it was not wind, it was coal.

And for that blown opportunity, I blame the left.
5:05 AM Sep 10th
Steven Goldleaf
I think I can live with a couple of dead birds if we can learn to use the wind as a power source, far better than I can live with a nuclear-power failure. We can work of making bird-safety a priority in finetuning wind-farm design. As to the real estate required: that's your idea of an environmental hazard? Again, I clutch my pearls in horror. On the one hand, you have Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Japanese nuke plant spewing deadly poison into the environment, and on the other hand, you've giving me dead birds and real estate squandered (like the acres required would otherwise be devoted to housing the poor and displaying great works of art?)
7:15 AM Sep 9th
Marc, thanks for the clarification. PMs are private messages; I believe you have to go into the Reader Posts section to access them, by clicking on Notifications at the top of the page.

Steven, the scientific community IS working on making solar practicable--more efficient fuel cells, better storage batteries, that sort of thing--but it takes decades for an energy source to reach maturity. Nuclear, for all of its issues, could have made a significant contribution to greenhouse gas reduction, if we hadn't backed off of it, while we waited for solar.

And NO energy source is safe as mother's milk. Wind farms kill birds, solar and wind both require vast amounts of real estate, natural gas releases CO2 and I don't have enough space to go into coal. Every glitch in a nuclear power plant gets into the newspapers; major accidents--how many have there been? four? five?--generate headlines. But despite our visceral fear of radioactivity, the number of lives lost or shortened is minuscule compared to coal.

Maybe thermonuclear will be the answer, if we ever solve it. Perhaps in your great-grandchildren's lifetime...
7:38 PM Sep 8th
Marc Schneider
One of the problems, I think, is that we are letting social medial define the conversation and make it seem as if the differences between sections are greater than perhaps they may be. I grew up in Tennessee and, while I was much more conservative than most of the people, it didn't really make much difference in my day-to-day life. Most people don't spend their every waking minute obsessing about politics, whether left or right. I think some liberals have the idea that if they go into the South, they are going to be immediately pounced upon by white-sheeted klansman or religious zealots and forced to burn their books.

And I suspect most people aren't as extreme as what we see on social media. The problem is, both sides have become echo chambers because of social media; people wall themselves off into their own little communities and don't have much to do with others who think differently. The result is that both sides get a distorted view of the other and, much like ISIS recruiting, people get radicalized by listening to narratives that demonize the other side. I think this has happened with both conservatives and liberals, although right now I think conservatives are worse. But the liberal echo chamber is often just as dishonest and distorting for ideological purposes.

4:14 PM Sep 8th
Marc Schneider

What are PMs?
3:56 PM Sep 8th
Steven Goldleaf

Check your PMs, please.
2:55 PM Sep 8th
Marc Schneider

I wasn't clear in what I was saying. I grew up in Tennessee in the 60s/70s (born 1956). I meant to say that, for Jews, the South was not Ukraine (at least in my experience). I understand that much of the South would have been as bad if not worse for black people. And, in fact, many African-Americans did move to the North during the Great Migration; their situation was similar to the Jews.

But Steve was saying that people could just get up and move to one of his different countries if they wanted and he used the example of Eastern European Jews. My point was that, for most people, who aren't oppressed but just are unhappy with the politics of their particular area, moving isn't a viable or desirable alternative. Using the Jews leaving Eastern Europe was, IMO, a silly analogy. Obviously, if you are oppressed and have few alternatives, moving is a viable option.

2:30 PM Sep 8th
Steven Goldleaf
Mr. Collarini, thanks for your civil response. But where did I call you a racist, or say that every southerner is racist? I called those who want the Confederacy to return to power, and white supremacists, and KKK-members, et al. racists. I assume you're a rational, intelligent Southerner who opposes white supremacists, Confederate-flag flyers, and the KKK, and while my whimsical article puts the emphasis on your responsibility to cope with all the racists in your midst, I'm not lumping you in with them. I think it's rational, non-racist Southerners who will the most effective in suppressing racism, not pointy-headed Northern elite types.

I do think it's your responsibility to denounce what racists stand for in a forthright way that lets them know that they cannot count on your support, passive or active, and that you don't want theirs. I have no problem with denouncing them in the strongest possible terms, and I don't believe you should. So do it. (Just as I have the responsibility, not you, to denounce, and not hand-wave away, toxic actions by leftists, attacks on police doing their jobs, mobs rather than legislatures tearing down monuments, etc.) It's an open question to me whether the two poles have enough in common to run one cohesive country--if you disagree with this premise as strongly as you say, are you willing to compromise any of your beliefs towards the goal of getting along with those on the other side of the political divide, or is it all "Your way or the highway"? If it is, then you're endorsing my somewhat far-fetched premise. If it's not "your way or the highway," then tell me please which left-of-center issues are you least willing to object to with every fiber of your being? I don't see a lot of Real Patriotic 'Merkins eager to find common ground with us Fake Unpatriotic 'Merkins, which is the basis for my premise.

Re: steve161's comment, you may be right on this issue, too, as is tkoegel. Maybe vaccines are an ideal issue to form a left-right pro-science coalition on, though I won't hold my breath waiting for my enlightened right-wing brethren to take up the cause, though again they would be far more effective than I would in arguing with the anti-vaxx people. As to nuclear power, how do you figure that nuclear is more environmentally friendly than solar, which has gotten kicked to the back of the closet? I don't follow that. If your argument is that we're far from making solar power practicable, I'd advise the scientific community to get right on that, pronto. If your argument is that nuclear reactors are safe as mother's milk, well, you're going to have to show me your reasoning.
12:02 PM Sep 8th
Mr. Goldleaf, I did enjoy your article, but you did manage to offend many of your readers.

Why do you need to write 'anti-gummint'? We do read and write down here, and I'm pretty sure all my neighbors can correctly pronounce the word government. Making sport of someone's speech to make them seem unintelligent is beneath you.

I do agree with Rich Dunstan that your term the 'New Confederacy' was done intentionally to slyly imply we're all racists. 'Left-wing coastal sandal-wearing liberals' doesn't carry the same historical baggage, and you know that.

My voting preferences are as sane and rational as yours even if we reach different conclusions. We should be able to sit down and have an adult discussion, not demean and insult each other.

9:01 AM Sep 8th
tkoegel is absolutely right. There is plenty of anti-vax sentiment on the left. My niece's boss, the majority leader of the California State Senate, nearly faced a primary challenge for his support of the measure requiring vaccination for public school pupils. (They ultimately lacked the attention span to pursue it, but for a while much of Santa Cruz County was marching in front of his local headquarters, where my niece works.)

Nor is that the only issue on which the left rejects the scientific consensus: GM foods leap to mind, as does nuclear energy, the most environmentally friendly way to reduce carbon emissions.

Sad to say, the right does not have a monopoly on ideological blindness.
7:46 AM Sep 8th
Steven Goldleaf
Thanks, tkoegel. You're right. One of my favorite wits, Bill Maher, is an anti-vaxxer, at least to the degree that he doesn't make fun of them and thinks they're not to be utterly rejected and despised, so I'm aware that there are those on the far-left who have sympathies with the anti-vaxxer movement. But I believe (I'll look at your article later) that it's mostly a right-wing (anti-authority, anti-gummint, conspiracy-fringe) movement, at least in application. There's some point at which the extreme right and the extreme left merge (my one genuine Marxist friend is the person who's the least disturbed by Trump's election). This is one of the few areas that has more of a mix in political-spectrum affiliation--thanks for raising that valid point.
6:05 PM Sep 7th
That link doesn't work for some reason. But if you Google search for "anti-vaccine generation" you get the National Geographic article.
3:28 PM Sep 7th
I'll stay out of the larger fray, other than to say that I live in the hope that the last presidential election was an outlier. That a historically poor candidate with very high negatives (fairly attributed or not) lost to someone breathtakingly incompetent to serve in the office. I think many on the blue side, myself included, understood something of the power of Trump's appeal even if HRC did not. But couldn't imagine that the portion of the electorate feeling aggrieved by a loss of traditional jobs would possibly think that Trump and the GOP were really going to help them out.

I do think, Steven, that you may be being unfair in assuming that the anti vaccination crowd is somehow politically conservative or associated with your new red nation. I think there may be a "crazy lefty" element to it as well that may be dominant. This National Geographic article certainly suggests that Blue States have the highest percentage of parents wanting to opt out of vaccinations for their kids. Washington State seems to have the highest percentage of all.

3:25 PM Sep 7th
Rich Dunstan
No, I don't feel personally insulted at all, since I live in Canupas and loathe Trump. Just sad.
3:02 PM Sep 7th
Steven Goldleaf
Rich, I just said they CAN ban vaccines and impose Christianity, if they choose to. They could surprise me (if not you) by standing up for vaccination and separation of church and state, but I know that those two movements are not being pushed (generally) by left-wing coastal sandal-wearing liberals. Those two movements, and support for leaving Confederate statues standing etc., are stronger in the New Confederacy (as I call it--tell me a more appropriate name, and I'll embrace your label) than in Canupas (as I call it--is that ok?). Seems to me you're not talking about a single issue here (you're right--naming the five issues you named doesn't count as naming one issue) but are you getting insulted simply by being identified? If I'd wanted to be insulting, I'd have called the new country "KKK-land" just as I just referred to left-wing coastal sandal-wearing liberals, most of whom could object that they wear other shoes sometimes, or that they actually live a few miles inland from the coast and they resent my stereotyping them blablabla. That's looking for stuff to act offended over, and I certainly freely admit to giving anyone who wants to whine that they've been insulted lots of material to work off of. But are YOU actually insulted, or are you just defending those poor folks who voted for Obama and switched to Trump this time? (Some of those exist, of course, but HRC and Obama had substantially the same base of support--you're describing a very tiny slice of the electorate who switched over from D to R, a tiny but significant slice.) I never claimed that every resident of the New Confederacy--would you happier if I called it New Heaven? or simply Paradise?-- is a white supremacist, just implied that this new country would have (in my estimate) a larger bloc of white supremacists who would require that new country to deal with them, and the Canadian/coastal country I envisioned would not face the white supremacy issue nearly as much. The white supremacist in the north, like Lepage, would either feel more uncomfortable (and leave the country) or would have to learn to cope with living at odds with their country's prevailing views (i.e., Lepage would not be electable as dog-catcher).

Basically, to oppose the countries I'm suggesting is to suggest that EVERY part of the country has roughly the same proportion of anti-vax, pro-white-supremacy, anti-abortion, etc. voters as every other part--this might be true, but I take it as a given that it's grossly false. If it's true, then I agree my article is based on a deeply flawed premise, and I've maligned both parts, north and south, with my pernicious nonsense. So let me ask: do you think that's true? Does every county have roughly the same number of racists, BLM activists, anti-vaxxers, pro-abortion people? Because if not, and if enough of these counties are contiguous with each other (and I clearly think it's not) then my premise makes some sense, at least in theory, with no one feeling insulted by being labeled as what they are.
1:11 PM Sep 7th
Thanks, Rich From Yemen!

I was just talking with a very smart friend of mine (we were sitting on a hay bale). And he recounted, laughing, a discussion with one of his children who had this split-the-country idea. He pointed out the logical disconnect that whole states would leave based on a red state/blue state basis. Once you get going with this, what makes you think upstate NY, or suburban Long Island, are going to want to stay in bed with Manhattan? Or Massachussetts outside of Boston?

So, you get the taste of secession in your mouth, is Snowflake Nation going to say they CAN'T leave? That shot is off-the-board.

And then everything that the cities need, from power genreration to potatoes to Xmas trees to apples a TRADE deal with New America, and they (we) will gouge the sheet out of you.

Most assets the cities would have to trade are, media, entertainment, healthcare....those have been moving to the suburbs with people looking for a healthy life for decades.

1:00 PM Sep 7th
Rich Dunstan
OK, I hope this counts as just one. I appreciate that Trump is far beyond normal categories, and I, with my blue thought habits mixed in with some red convictions, would have voted for Jack the Ripper or Mickey Mouse in preference to him (if I were still an American). Still, I take it for granted that different people vote different ways at different times; far from being grounds for outrage, that's the very reason why we have elections. So characterizing such a huge swath of Americans, a good many of whom helped elect a black president just four years earlier, as people who would like to ban vaccines and impose Christianity in school, and who should be called by a name (New Confederacy) associated with the forcible preservation of slavery, is a gratuitous lowering of political discourse at just the time it most needs to be raised.
12:13 PM Sep 7th
Surprisingly apropos: I mentioned over in Reader Posts that I've been reading The Haldeman Diaries. Here is part of the entry for 16 Jan 1973, just before Watergate blows up in the White House's face. Nixon has been reading Clinton Rossiter's The American Presidency (1956), "which he thought had a fascinating point regarding Eisenhower, which is that in terms of great leadership it is better perhaps to have half the people like what we do and the other half hate him than it is to have the great center who likes him and only a small fringe on either side who worship him and hate him."

Be careful what you wish for.
10:05 AM Sep 7th
Why don't you write an article about five years after your separation when the food riots start in your new country?
12:25 PM Sep 6th
Steven Goldleaf
I’d apologize to those I’ve offended, except I’m not very sorry I started this lively discussion. (As always, though, I apologize for my inept writing, and I’m personally very sorry to anyone who considers this piece “the worst article [he] ha[s] ever read”—I promise you, I’m capable of much worse, and believe I have published much worse, even some here on BJOL recently. And thanks to the person who wrote “For a great writer, you don’t [blablabla],” but I’m only a “very good” writer on the most recent rankings in United Non-Fiction Writers Consortium, July 2017.) The odd thing to me about the more antagonistic comments here—and again I was openly trying for “provocative” and explicitly “annoying” so I welcome all dissent—is that these comments, far more than my article, demonstrate my point here: how sad it is that we can’t get along.

This isn’t a “tu quoque” argument (that is, “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re just as bad as me! Ha, ha, on you!!”), though I suppose it is that, too; rather, I’m arguing that a more effective remonstrance to someone as out-of-control-abusive as these comments claim me to be in this piece would have been to surpass my tone in civility and calm, reasoned discourse (which should have been very easy, no? See Marc Schneider’s recent post for an example of opposed civility). I’d started out imagining that we seem to have broken off into two large groups that can do little but shout and sneer at each other, and tried positing where we might end up, but in some of the comments learned that we’re doing even worse than I suspected.

Anyway, I don’t want this comment to be longer than the article itself (though I must briefly apologize sincerely to the reader who found the font size uncomfortably small—I had to get some technical help from Rylan in posting it because of the graphics so I didn’t get to exercise control over the font size or the spacing in the final copy). I’ll post another article on the subject, though, if you’d care to help me out by pointing out the single worst insult I offered to anyone here. I was being condescending to the worst of the white supremacists but I’m astonished that anyone on BJOL would identify with that group to the degree that they took my swipes at the KKK etc. as intended for anyone here—I assume that any intelligent person is offended at the idea that white supremacy, or the KKK, or neo-Nazism is virtuous, and I also assume that every BJOL reader is by definition an intelligent person. I’m a little confused as to how readers would think I meant to include them personally in dismissing fanatical racists and suggesting that I’d prefer to live in a country free from them.

But if you felt offended, and would like to point to ONE specific word or phrase that you feel applies to you that I shouldn’t have used (please, one to a customer), and would like me to write another piece on this subject to clarify my views, please feel free to say so, and I’ll try to comply.

Finally, it seems to me that the sheer number of controversies this piece has poked at—the legality of secession, the fate of liberals in the south and conservatives in the north, the relative morality of the 19th and 21st centuries, the question of monuments honoring Confederate military figures, the entirely different question of monuments honoring Americans who owned slaves when slavery was legal, the difficulty of relocating when one finds oneself living in an inhospitable country, to name only a few—is absurdly broad to be able to handle here, and of course each of these is deserving of its own discussion. I hope I won’t be thought evasive if I reserve some of those discussions for future articles, or (better yet) if I refer you to other places where those discussions are underway. As one final example, I’ve learned a lot these past few days by reading up on Texas v. White, an 1869 Supreme Court case that settled the question of whether secession was legal or illegal, and President Johnson’s 1868 pardon of Confederate President Davis, who had been arrested on charges of treason. This stuff is all far more complex than can be settled in one satirical article, or any number of comments on that article, but I’m glad to have gotten that conversation started.

8:11 AM Sep 6th
"To use Eastern European Jews as an example of voluntary emigration is really silly and, frankly, offensive. I grew up in the South and, while it was no utopia, it was not Eastern Europe in the early 20th century either."

I don't know when you grew up, Marc, but if it was before about 1965, you might not have felt that way, had you been black.

From what my grandparents told me about being a Jew in turn-of-the-century Ukraine, it wasn't all that different.
3:38 PM Sep 5th
Marc Schneider
Normally, I enjoy Steven's pieces, even more the non-baseball stuff. But this one really rubs me the wrong way. Part of what rubs me the wrong way is his "trigger warning" that the article may annoy or offend people. The idea here seems to be that you may be annoyed or offended but I'm going to write it anyway regardless of whether it makes sense or not.

I suspect Steve wrote this out of despair and depression and I understand that. I certainly feel the same way. But the idea that the way to solve our problems is just for everyone to take their toys and go somewhere else is pernicious in the extreme. When has running away from your problems ever solved anything. And, certainly in this case it wouldn't. It's not as if separating into different countries would, for example, allow one to escape the issue of climate change. What he is really talking about is moving to a culture that is more hospitable to your point of view. But that's pretty much what we already have and it's not really working too well. Maybe there is no solution to the problem of two countries, but I'm pretty sure that actual separation will only make things worse.

Steve also makes a really silly point about people being able to move and using his ancestors coming over from Lithuania as an example. Mine came from Ukraine but that doesn't mean that moving is a reasonable or viable option. No one is being kicked out of the South and no one is really facing pograms. To use Eastern European Jews as an example of voluntary emigration is really silly and, frankly, offensive. I grew up in the South and, while it was no utopia, it was not Eastern Europe in the early 20th century either.
2:30 PM Sep 5th
"I agree with you, Mr. Hatfield, that surely is the best way to settle your differences with the McCoys."
3:02 PM Sep 4th
Is it just me and my Chrome browser, or is 3/4 of this article in tiny font that is single-spaced? I couldn't stand to read it for that reason.
2:31 PM Sep 4th
We as a country certainly have many social issues on which we are divided. We are not dealing well with our differences. In this article you have taken up many social issues; you describe opposing viewpoints/people in offensive, cartoonish stereotypes, then you toss in a string of insults.

In doing so, you present your opponent as not just intractably different from you, but as fundamentally and morally flawed creatures, both incapable and unworthy of debate. You have abandoned hope of our society actually learning to simply co-exist amongst others with different belief systems. You demonstrate no interest in analyzing or solving our social disagreements, beyond stating that our differences are irreconcilable, and its time for all of us to start packing. You imply that we are so fundamentally different from one another that we are past the point where talking can help us.

Your stance on these subjects is “my way or the highway.” If you can take such an unyielding position, then so can your opponent, and by definition two such parties shall never come to peaceful terms.
You are very little different from a religious fundamentalist, in the sense that you both are 100% unyielding in your beliefs, because each of you believe that you are abiding the will of either god, in the case of the fundamentalist, or your god-equivalent, whatever that is, in your case. You both proudly bloat about your beliefs and demean your opponent, keeping your right fist clenched and cocked at the ready.
You’re not discussing issues or philosophizing here; you’re in the middle of the scrum throwing haymakers. Who would step into meaningful discourse with you after reading this article? In fact, you have defined meaningful discourse to be impossible. This stance is part of the problem, not the solution.

You speak as if you are (clearly) on the morally correct side of every subject, and that anyone who thinks differently is simply an inferior person, certainly one unworthy of engaging in civilized discourse.

Wow-I wonder how that “self-righteous asshole” comment could ever be made about you?

1:46 PM Sep 4th
I hate posting three comments in a row but I guess it's my day.
Another way to look at this issue before we divide up the country.
3/4 of adult Americans did not vote for Donald Trump..
9:17 AM Sep 4th
If you go by Bill's idea that counties be allowed to vote to be part of blue country or red country. Here's where you can find what it would look like. By how each county voted in the 2016 presidential election.
Quite a lot of blue scattered through the south. Blue Country would be scattered. Red country would be farm land.
It's a terrible idea, cities need to eat and farm land needs manufacturing, hospitals, shipping, and infrastructure. Now we can't solve our problems by talking and voting we need to fracture into a dozen different countries. That will fracture into a dozen more.
Segregated countries, lesbian countries, home shopping network countries, we can make it like cable t.v...
8:52 AM Sep 4th
Some rich guy from Boston called me 'elitist' on the internet today which I find amusing. He misrepresented what I was saying so I may as well put it here. Don't know if it's relevant but it's ironic.
In Washington, in King County, votes democrat. Residents pay $1.00 in tax money. They get back $0.60 from government services. Welfare, medicaid, roads, etc. Same in the other democrat dominated counties.
In the rural counties, they get back more then they put in. Over $1.00 in services from the government for every dollar they put in. In Garfield county they get $.2.50, a few others are over $2.00. Because they don't make as much $$ as King county. And a high percentage of the community is poor.
The opposite of the way they vote.
8:15 AM Sep 4th
The problem with boundaries is that they will still be among us....The Others. Voting. Speaking at public meetings. Influencing our children. So we would temporarily need to forcibly relocate some populations, after, of course, using technology to determine their ACTUAL thoughts. Pin a letter to their sweater. It all seems justifiable when it is framed as Us and Them.

But once that utopia is the world really just Goldleaf and non-Goldleaf? Or will the Hillarys and Bernies later have to subdivide? The partial birthers and the Roe vs. Waders....could they actually live in the same region? said the article was irresponsible. There is no reason why the topic couldn't be appropriate on BJOL....but this is drenched in juvenile hate speech.

And we are all enlightened. Teaching requires bad examples. Pin it to the top.

1:01 AM Sep 3rd
Well, Steven, thank you for your amusing and irresponsible article. I confess I didn’t actually read it until I saw so many panties and knickers in twists and knots among the comments. Had to read it after that.

Irresponsible? Oh, not really. But what happens if everyone ends up relocating so that they only reside with others of their own stripe? I imagine that will inevitably lead to a world where the weapons of mass destruction will still be raining down upon the earth long after life ceases to exist.

1:10 PM Sep 2nd
Dear Steven Goldleaf:

I am a longtime James reader who registered just so I could comment on this.

Have you read "The Nine Nations Of North America"? It was written in 1981 by a Washington Post editor who spent several years hearing his reporters describe regional differences on the continent, and complied his findings in a book that delineated nine nations: New England, Quebec, the Foundry, Dixie, the Islands, the Breadbasket, MexAmerica, the Empty Quarter, and Ecotopia.

The author did not suggest that the US, Canada, and Mexico actually break up and re-form along these lines, but rather that the governments in Ottawa, Washington, and Mexico City would do well to allow different regions to operate in the ways that are best for them. For example, let one area have its wind-powered economy, another its ethanol-powered one, etc.

I highly recommend it. The references are dated but the issues remain to this day.
9:05 PM Sep 1st
I'm extending a warm welcome to callarini to participate more after this great summation comment::

"""After reading this I tend to agree, and I can see where the problem's you. Your shameful and smug characterizations of southern folks disgust me, and you come across as no different than those you condemn."""

Watching Houston, I think the map to simply be redrawn by elevation, since the Cajun Navy and the volunteer firefighters and all the other deplorables with pickup trucks and bass boats might get insulted at some future point and stop saving strangers. Then we can depend on the strong backs of the urban academic professor class.

7:13 PM Sep 1st
Alberta and parts of BC and Saskatchewan (the parts with oil) would choose Middle Canmerica ("The New Confederacy" is a terrible name) over Canupas, so the contiguity would require a more northerly jaunt than you posed.
6:07 PM Sep 1st
If a snowflake falls in a sh*tstorm [I am sensitive!] 10 minutes before comments are closed down, does anybody hear it? If so, is it comedy or tragedy? (Trick question - it's both!)
3:20 PM Sep 1st
Steven: So you really are doubling down on "If you genuinely cared about your political beliefs, you would abandon your children and abandon your dependent adult family members". Plus implicitly, although I didn't bring the flip side up, if you cared about your political beliefs, you wouldn't *be* a dependent family member.

Fair enough. I've never considered your columns a reason to subscribe to this site; I've read them on the "I'm here, so I might as well" principle. That was an inadequate reason. I won't fall for it again.
2:55 PM Sep 1st
I'd like to offer a retort. If you wonder to whom I'm retorting, please assume it was you, and just for good measure, assume that insult was intended:

Donald Trump is the current President of the United States of America.
End of retort.
2:47 PM Sep 1st
I took the article differently, and I guess, wrongly. I thought it was wry and very unserious. If it wasn't, I'm with the criticisms about the lumping and stereotyping.

I took it like how I take things like Sidd Finch and Squawks McGrew/Pearl DeMonville.
11:59 AM Sep 1st
I would not want to be in part of Canada. Canada is part of the Commonwealth of Britain which I would have no interest of being a part. It would be like going from one bad organization to another. Like going from the Nuggets to the Timberwolves. Why bother.
10:53 AM Sep 1st
Smbakersq you've perfectly demonstrated the issue here, and its these type attitudes that have killed political discourse.

What I hear you saying is that Republicans and southerners have no ability to think for themselves, and we only believe what the wacko right-wing flag-waving alt-right media tells us. But wait, there's still hope for us because you and your elite media snobs will stoop to help your intellectual inferiors and enlighten us with the 'truth'.

Pardon us, but that kind of assistance we don't need.
10:53 AM Sep 1st
Smbakeresq- So Republican voters are not stupid, just gullible according to you. I apologize if we arenot as enlightened as you.

I would say that I am gullible at times when I believe Republicans like Paul Ryan, John McCain, Mitch McConnell etc. etc. when they claim that they want to reduce the size of government. Instead of doing what they say, they lurch over to your side.
10:30 AM Sep 1st
I took a close look at the second map. I had to use a powerful magnifying glass in order to see what I needed to see. The new border runs right through my bedroom, which means that my wife and I would be living in separate countries. Are you trying to break up my marriage? That's not right. What have I ever done to you?

Interesting thought experiment. This concept would make for some great dinner conversations, given the right group of participants.

There are some agricultural, mining, and energy interests in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, and the Northwest Territory that may want to secede and join up with the Western/Southern/Alaskan group.
10:22 AM Sep 1st

While I see your view points, explain what it means to be southern? If you are talking about hospitality, sure. Respect for your elders, yes. Cooking, got you. Slowing down from the rat race enough to enjoy life, gotcha. etc.

Lets be honest here, the Rebel flag is the flag of a loser, their literally was a war about the ideas it represented and that group lost. The South were a conquered people that were given more generous terms of surrender than almost any history, most who revolted against their government prior to 1865 were simply eradicated.

Besides that, this glorification of the South didn't happen in 1866, or 1867, etc, it became popular from 1890-1910, during the rise of the KKK, and again in the 50's during the civil rights movement. The Lost Cause theory became popular.
10:07 AM Sep 1st
MANY Republican voters do fit into the category of believing the myths that's been sold to them. More than half believed Obamacare was terrible for them while receiving Affordable Care Act benefits. More then ` of Republican Medicare beneficiaries think Medicare is private health insurance. When Republican voters in Louisiana where asked when given choice who was responsible for slow government response to Hurricane Katrina (in 2005) ) choose George Bush, ) choose Barack Obama, B said they didn't know. Literally q of those Republican voters either didn't know who the President was in 2005 of thought its Obama fault.

These people are not dumb, its what they have been told over and over through their elected candidates and their media sources of their choosing. IIRC 8 of the top 10 states that "mooch" off the Fed Gov are Republican states, but to admit they are dependent on aid from the G would cause too much cognitive dissonance.

Its sad that so much of the electorate is being misinformed for ulterior purposes by those who know better, but when you try to break through with truths you are labeled a purveyor of "Fake News." It really is like 1984.
9:58 AM Sep 1st
Very interesting article.

"Can we all get along?
We can’t."

After reading this I tend to agree, and I can see where the problem's you. Your shameful and smug characterizations of southern folks disgust me, and you come across as no different than those you condemn.

'Fly rebel flags all day long...make Christianity mandatory...outlaw vaccines'! For someone who is a great writer, you sure don't know people Mister!
What I see here is nothing more than southern bashing, but I guess we're one of the groups it's still OK to slam.

So take a good look in the mirror friend, and see if you can why we don't get along.

6:31 AM Sep 1st
Steven Goldleaf
Sure, Rich, many, many people don't fit into the "Pure Blue" or "Pure Red" categories. (I think Bill made that point, that Kansans are far more liberal and Bostonians far more conservative than geographic stereotypes would have you have think.) But in those cases, it seems to me, people like you would either be unaffected, going with the flow, or else you'd be confronted by an option you don't enjoy at present: "Hmmm, do I WANT to move, and if so, to which country?"
5:19 AM Sep 1st
Rich Dunstan
I'm not sure how many real people would fit into the two groups of citizens this seems to assume. Take me: I'm anti-abortion, pro-socialized medicine, pro-free speech, pro-vaccine, anti-capital punishment, pro-welfare state, pro-religious freedom, anti-judicial activism, proud Canadian, devout Catholic, and on and on, and the real population is full of weird combinations like that. Lots of people, including the most serious-minded citizens on both the right and the left, take positions issue by issue rather than color-coding themselves in a way that would lend itself to a simple geographical solution.​
12:43 AM Sep 1st
Steven Goldleaf
Of course "everyone can move," voxpoptart--everyone doesn't want to move, everyone doesn't find it equally convenient, but everyone is capable of moving. If my grandparents and their three kids could move several thousand miles from Lithuania (separately, mind you, in steerage) without a nickel to their name, I think a poor person could get his butt on a bus, or hitchhike, or find the back of a pickup truck going to the nearest border, if he's motivated. What motivated my grandparents, I think (I never met them,) was absolutely intolerable political and economic conditions in Lithuania, of the sort that both liberals in the south and conservatives in the north complain about today. Maybe the present conditions aren't so intolerable? Fine, then stop bitching so much. Oh, they are that intolerable? Start walking. Of course there are injustices and inconveniences in my modest proposal, but they are designed to counteract the far worse intolerable burdens that both liberals and conservatives are complaining they are forced to endure under the present conditions. I'm offering you a way out of the intolerable conditions both liberals and conservatives are complaining about today. But maybe I've misjudged those complaints. Maybe people just like complaining.
9:23 PM Aug 31st
This is perhaps the worst article that I have ever read. The first several paragraphs were extremely difficult to get through what with the endless condescension, contemptibility, stereotypes and sheer ignorance. Stick to baseball, Steve.

8:39 PM Aug 31st
I was born, raised, educated, and married (to a Vermonter) in New England, worked in the Northeast through age 55, then relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2013. Austin's pretty Blue, but Redder than you might think -- certainly nowhere near as Blue as Boston, for example. One thing I hear a lot of around here is what I would characterize as loose talk about Texas seceding from the USA.

My response to such talk is to suggest that the speaker be careful about what he (it's usually a he) wishes for, as there's a strong likelihood that the rest of the USA won't take Texas back when it (inevitably, I believe) requests readmission a couple years down the road. Texas would be giving up its net gain in Federal funds administered versus Federal taxes paid, its military and NASA installations, its border security forces, its citizens' Federal benefits, and its disproportionate influence over the Federal government.

If Texas ever does leave, which I don't think it will, I'm pretty sure New England and the west coast states would give a weak, don't-mean-it, Willy Wonka-esque "Stop, don't, come back," and then move on.
6:50 PM Aug 31st
"Everyone can move". No, not everyone. Not very close to everyone, I think. You're economically successful; you're not at risk of poverty or homelessness if you abandon the job ties you have, but many people, including those most in need of good government, are. You don't, I assume, have shared custody of children; that restricts movement. You have family, but I gather you don't have family dependent on you being there with them in their long-term physical or mental illness.

"Everyone can move" means YOU can move. It's not the same thing at all.
5:32 PM Aug 31st
Steven Goldleaf
77royals--I'm sorry, was I writing about Charlottesville? I thought I made it pretty explicit in my intro that I'd written this entire piece several months before Charlottesville. And aside from Lepage, whom exactly did I call "a name"?
4:28 PM Aug 31st
Calling it the 'New Confederacy' is an insult to people in the south. A good portion of the people in Charlottesville were not from the South. They were from all parts of the country. Lumping all people together under one name because you don't like the actions of a few makes you as racist as the ones you are complaining about.

And nothing you said was about a North/South divide.

All you wrote about was a left/right, liberal/conservative, urban/rural divide.

Calling people names because you don't like the way they think doesn't make you the better person here.

4:05 PM Aug 31st
Don: Thanks for that additional info.
I was going to ask what kind of average you were giving; I figured it was "mean." (arithmetically, not emotionally) :-)
2:47 PM Aug 31st
60-70 million looks pretty good--England, France, Italy--so maybe 5 nations...(Wasn't there a five nations coalition back in the 18th century? Yep. "The five Iroquois nations, characterizing themselves as “the people of the longhouse,” were the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. After the Tuscarora joined in 1722, the confederacy became known to the English as the Six Nations and was recognized as such at Albany, New York (1722).Aug 22, 2017." They weren't in the 60-70 million range, though.)
2:40 PM Aug 31st
I should mention that the *median* population size of countries in the world is around 5 million...think Singapore, Denmark, Finland, Turkmenistan, Eritrea, Slovakia, Norway...which is a pretty bi-modal set of countries in terms of quality of life...Singapore, Denmark, Finland, Norway on one hand; Turkmenistan, Eritrea, and Slovakia on the other...

In the 35 million range...Canada, Morocco, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Venezuela, Malaysia, Uzbekistan...That's not so good...
2:34 PM Aug 31st
Steven Goldleaf
Not sure I see where we disagree, r44fletch: I already said this piece would surely annoy some, and one of the most annoying qualities it has is that I keep repeating how unfair this proposal is to the good people of the South (and to those in the North) who'd find themselves living, like Don Coffin, in a country whose values and principles differ from their own even more than the one they're currently living in. But the chief virtue of this proposal is that it gives everyone a choice as to the country they would like to live in, even if some don't especially want to move at this late date. You don't want to move? Fine, but that tells me that you don't care as much about all the things you spend half your life bitching about. I'm certainly not enjoying the time I spend complaining about stuff that almost half the country voted for last time around.
2:27 PM Aug 31st
My principal problem is (correctly) consigning Indiana to the New Confederacy...because I live in Indianapolis, I'm old, and I don't want to move.


There was, for a long time, a school of thought in political theory that, in essence, argued that larger States (countries) were preferable to smaller ones. That attitude was to a great extent behind the formation of the early cross-national boundaries in Europe (the European coal and steel community), which evolved and now might be in the process of devolving.

(end digression)

I just looked, and the average population of the (roughly) 220 countries in the world--including India and China--is about 35 million. If we take that to be large enough to make an effective country, then we could divide the US up into 8-10 countries, perhaps along the lines of the 1981 book by Joel Garreau (The Nine Nations of North America)...why stop at just 2 nations? (You can see his proposed division here:

That would put me in what he called "the Foundry"--or the Rust Belt
("The Foundry — the...industrial areas of the northeastern United States and Great Lakes region stretching from New York City to Milwaukee and down to the suburbs of Washington DC in Northern Virginia, and including Chicago, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, Philadelphia, and Southern Ontario centering on Toronto. Capital: Detroit.") I think I could live with that.
1:51 PM Aug 31st
Your condescending attitude is annoying. Everyone in the south doesn't believe or think the way you portray. I'm sure a lot do.
1:21 PM Aug 31st
Steven Goldleaf
For some bizarre reason, MF61, Bill and I seem agreed that "contiguity" is important here--don't know exactly why, especially since I'm assigning Hawaii to Canupas and Alaska blithely to the New Confederacy, but I'd be willing to do it on a county level, if any sort of contiguity can be found. As I said about Rudy Giuliani, whose base of support was Staten Island, he will be unhappy living in the North, but this loopy plan is a way to make other people, many more other people, less unhappy, so that's a trade-off I can live with. I live in a high-rise in NYC where many of my building's residents voted for Trump, loud and proud of it, too, so obviously I'm aware of the millions of people made unhappy by living in the country I'm offering to them. But this looks to me like the greatest good for the greatest number...

This is, to use Bill's word, a "peaceable" plan, which was the whole basis of my dispute (a throwaway line I made in passing, as you noted in "Hey Bill"). In other words, instead of an armed rebellion against the US (which is why I don't want statues of traitorous soldiers to stand in American cities), if the Confederacy had devised a plan by which they would secede from the Union that would be satisfactory all around, I don't think I would have a problem with that peaceable program. Of course it's difficult to do, compensating the Union for some of its Federal property, Army bases, and the like but anything could be negotiated, and if the results are pleasing to both parties, then of course the South could have seceded peaceably. As I understand it, though, they weren't offering terms of secession, they just wanted to take all their marbles (and, oh by the way, all of our marbles they could gather) and leave. "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, etc." --if it's necessary, then by all means, go, but I'd rather you went in a way that is more pleasing all around than simply opening fire on Fort Sumter.
12:30 PM Aug 31st
Keep your coasts, and forget about annexing Canada (We kicked your ass in 1812, and we'll do it again if necessary.)

And you think you have a problem with the old south...

Otherwise, I quite enjoyed this.

12:16 PM Aug 31st
South Florida goes with the north. :-)

BTW, more relevant to the recent Hey Bill discussion than this, but I haven't wanted to try to get into the middle of that, so....

If one thinks states should be able to secede from the U.S., what do you say about parts of states that want to split from their state? Or parts of cities? It seems there's a fair amount of that throughout the country. I don't know that there's no mechanism for it to happen, but I know it's not easy. If you made it even half easy, we'd have a chaotic land, or to put it less judgmentally, an extremely fluid land. It might be as fluid as major league team rosters: Staten Island doesn't want to be part of NYC or NY state? Fine, it's part of New Jersey. Oh, that's not feeling too good this week? OK, you're your own country....

BTW, interesting article, Steven. :-)
11:39 AM Aug 31st
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