Why not? Why not let the South go? After all, they wanted to leave and we Yankees made them stay. Big mistake. We should have seen their desire to leave as an opportunity to solve problems. But that was then and this is now. There were problems that needed fixing back in 1860, and I guess we had to keep the South for a while to fix them.
But why keep them now? They would love to leave. That solid block of densely religious, profoundly redneck good-ol-boys would gasp in relief as the weight of the hyper-rational Upper Right Coast, the libertarian West and those good-government Lutherans in the upper Midwest was lifted from their shoulders. We hardly need to mention the Left Coast. They could establish their own national religion and those who didn’t like it would have free passage North.
Of course, poor Utah would be rather stuck, but then so would the non-Southern parts of Florida. But just imagine: the United States of Northern America would no longer have to pay attention to those screeching Miamians who pretend to want to return to Cuba. Missouri would take a deep breath and stay North, though the bootheel might simply join Arkansas for the convenience of all.
The biggest question would be what to do with Texas, but then, the rest of the nation wonders that right now anyway. As I recall, Texas entered the Union reserving to itself the right to split into up to five states if necessary. Well, now’s the time. There’s cottony East Texas, The Valley, the Greater Panhandle, the Plateau and West Texas. East Texas clearly belongs to the Conf…that is, to the South; the Panhandle, Plateau and West are clearly western. And the Valley, well, why not give it to Mexico on a more formal basis? That would be great for international relations and all the spring break parties at South Padre Island would be Cancun del Norte: somebody else’s problem.
Party realignment in the United States of Northern America would be rapid. Democrats would become Labor, Republicans would become what they were back when places like New York and Connecticut elected them, and Libertarians would become a serious force in the interior West and Alaska. Those who couldn’t live in a genuinely secular country could simply move to one of the new Free South states.
Think of the policy issues that would be so much easier if we let the South go. Civil unions, abortion rights and teaching evolution would all be common sense in the North and felonies in the South—so much more simple and no reason for doubt in anyone’s mind. No serious fights over Supreme Court justices (in either country). Northerners could wash their hands of the question of who is responsible for rebuilding New Orleans where a city shouldn’t be. Southerners would not have to care why the money is being spent on a bridge in Alaska instead.
All those upsetting Dixie flags would be nationalized in the South and, as flags of a foreign government, legally restricted in the North. Slavery is out of fashion just now so its return need not concern the black population in the South, where life would go on as badly as it does now. In the North, life for urban black people would continue to be as bad as it is now. Affirmative Action would disappear completely in both countries, neither of which pay any attention to it now.
Think of the border crossing problems that would be solved. People in New Jersey would no longer have to think about what to do with Haitian boat people. They’d be sent to North Carolina to work for $1.49 an hour in the newly rejuvenated textile industry. If they didn’t like it, they could go back to Haiti.
A wetback would be someone who swam the Potomac River, not the Rio Grande. At least the Potomac is still wet. Anyone who crossed the border illegally in West Texas or New Mexico could simply be sent Down The River until they were back in Mexico del Norte east of Falcon Dam.
Words like NASCAR would slowly disappear from the Northern lexicon, as would the phrase “labor union” in the South. Wouldn’t southern employers really be more comfortable on the warm side of NAFTA anyway? Whole new cultural traditions would rise: the World Series would be truly international (Montreal and Toronto being relieved of traditional token roles by the addition of teams from the South).
Then there’s the food. I concede that I would miss good catfish, but then tourists would be welcome (at least married boy-girl Christian tourists) and they could have catfish. But northerners would no longer have to deal with okra, pickled pigs’ feet, grits and other delights of southern cuisine. Pecans are overrated, anyway. Southerners could restrict public consumption of lutefisk and California wines. A brisk trade in corn and rice would be a firm base for commerce, as would the sale of oil, wheat, shrimp, potatoes and many other staples and manufactured goods.
Without the South, the United States of Northern America could make a plausible case for merger with any Canadian provinces that were interested. Quebec could become independent and negotiate with France for control of St. Pierre and Miquelon. British Columbia would fit in just fine with the west coast and most of the provinces would be much more comfortable with the USNA after the South departed.
Conservative Alberta would be left slightly stranded like Utah, but they would have a lot in common with the Dakotas and Montana, and would actually boost the prairie vote in the expanded Congress, as Alberta has significant population centers.
That raises the question of capital cities. Washington has always been a lousy place for a capital, Ottawa not much better, so merger with Canada would allow some compromises. A more central location, less vile summer climate and air service in winter would certainly be issues. A new, smaller federal district between Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska might work well. But where would the South put its capital? The shining star of Atlanta is an obvious choice (Richmond having slipped a little in relative glory in the past 150 years), but I can see the Dallas-Houston axis being a bit uncomfortable ceding place to a comparable rival. I suspect that a compromise with no pretense to secular glory such as Oxford, Mississippi would do very nicely.
So let us end this most unnatural civil union. Release the South from the surly bonds of the Constitution as we know it, and let all peoples breathe free.