A modest proposal

promised land

Americans typically have an abundance of choices for things in life: products and services, careers, faiths—these days even gender and ethnic identity. But in one important and arguably essential respect they have hardly any choice. They cannot easily change the society where they live, work, pay taxes, own property and otherwise are treated as citizens. Some can and do move abroad, but for most the barriers to long-term foreign residence and a change of citizenship—money barriers, legal barriers, language and cultural barriers, tax complications—are too high.

Worse, for a typical, educated, middle-class American there is now little to choose from among developed countries abroad. With few exceptions their political cultures lean further left than America’s: their welfare systems are more bloated, their taxes more punitive, their social liberalism more in-your-face, their flows of migrants from the “developing” world more intense and socially disruptive. Their elites’ attitude towards political heresy is also even more draconian than what conservatives face in the US. Sweden, for example, recently opted to simply outlaw criticism of its liberal immigration policy. The UK too is now swift to punish anti-immigrant speech.

Many conservative Americans must now feel that they are oppressed cultural minorities. (Liberals have none of the love for conservatives’ cultural uniqueness that they do for developing-world cultures, e.g., the cultures of rainforest tribes.)

Many conservatives must also have recognized that, whatever upheaval occurs in the present election cycle, they have little long-term prospect of recovering and maintaining majority status at the ballot box. Nonwhites and single white women (both solidly left-voting) are always increasing their share of the electorate, which—assuming the US remains a democracy—guarantees the demise of conservatism as a political force at the federal level.

Even if conservatives were to seize power as a minority, for example in a military-backed coup, they could stay in power only by suppressing the Left-wing majority, much as the Left has lately been suppressing them. That’s hardly a sustainable solution.

Ironically, many Americans can trace their heritage back to foreign ancestors, particularly in Europe, who felt that they were oppressed minorities in their homelands—and sailed to America to escape that oppression. Examples include the Puritans, Baptists and members of many other Protestant sects. Now of course America has its own serious internal conflicts—and there is nowhere left for its dissidents to sail. Of course it’s encouraging that several of the country’s more successful entrepreneurs are now trying to build space-faring technology to allow humans to colonize distant worlds. Alas, off-Earth colonies are generations away and unlikely to be very comfortable.

A nearer-term option is for conservatives to assert the right once asserted by the country’s founders, namely the right of self-determination, and pass acts of secession in the legislatures of western and southern “red states” such as Idaho, Texas and South Carolina. Naturally, the Left will oppose that. With their usual history-is-with-us zeal, liberals will try to portray modern secession advocates as morally equivalent to the slaveowning southerners of the Civil War era. They will also declare that the issue of secession was closed forever in 1865—notwithstanding that the Declaration of Independence holds such a right to be innate and inalienable. Reasoned argument is unlikely to decide such a conflict, but fortunately the true deciders, those in the military or with military training, now come disproportionately from Red States.

I admit that there would be problems galore with this strategy (e.g., concerning trade, defence, and currency), even if it were to proceed as an “amicable” separation of the old US into two (or more) culturally distinct countries. But I think that none of those problems would be as important as obtaining self-rule, and certainly none would be insurmountable. In fact, it’s easy to imagine a more coherent and conservative version of the USA becoming, in short order, an even greater economic powerhouse—and a much more pleasant place to live and work and raise a family—than the present fifty-state entity.

In any case, there is another option that might enable self-rule-seeking conservatives to avoid the civil conflict and some of the practical problems entailed in a red/blue bifurcation of the US. That option is simply to buy another country, or set of countries. The household wealth of the red states now runs to the tens of trillions of dollars (the US total is close to $90T). Yet it should take no more than a trillion or two to purchase a few contiguous poor, under-developed countries—for example Mozambique, Zambia, and Angola, which together stretch from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. There would a different climate to cope with, different pests and diseases and geography and so forth, but conservatives, newly energized by their political liberty and cultural cohesion, would be sure to conquer all these challenges just as their immigrant forbears did.

What to do with the hundred million natives displaced by such a purchase? Well, of course—send them to America!