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January 26, 2015

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One nation — but maybe not so indivisible

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We in the blue states hear from the talking heads on Fox News and MSNBC that many of you in the red states are so distressed about the outcome of the elections that you would like to secede from the Union. Now, it seems that at least six of you — Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina — have submitted enough signatures (25,000) on petitions to the White House website to merit a formal response, with more petitions on the way.

We wish you the best of luck with this. We feel your pain. If we can speak frankly, it’s been coming for a long, long time. The question now is: What’s next?

First, we’re happy to report that most people in Oregon, Washington and California think you’re really on to something. This marriage has run its course. Too many niggling little things built up over time, driving us all crazy. So let’s just stop. It’s time to divvy up the china and draft a property settlement. In the spirit of fairness and good will, we propose the following as a starting point.

We’ll keep the West Coast, Nevada and Hawaii, New York, the rest of the Northeast and all the other states that turned blue on election night. You guys get Texas, Mississippi, the rest of the Confederacy and all the other states that turned red on election night. Alaska can do whatever it wants. It does what it wants anyway.

One caveat here. We’ve been asked by the citizens of Austin, Texas, to give them sanctuary, so we’ll keep Austin as a territorial protectorate, along with Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Samoa; you can have Key West.

We get Meryl Streep, Woody Allen, Bill Maher, Katy Perry and Jerry Seinfeld, and you get Ron White, Jeff Foxworthy, the Osmonds, Larry the Cable Guy and all the NASCAR people. We’ll split custody of the NFL and the NBA — alternating years, with monthly visitation.

We get Bill and Hillary, Jennifer Granholm, the Obamas, Elizabeth Warren and the new Kennedy kid, and you get Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Jim DeMint, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Todd Akin. Also, we get all the lobster, salmon and clam chowder and you get all the shrimp, grits, fried chicken, corn pone and dumplings. (We’ll get over it.)

And just so there’s no confusion, we get the Statue of Liberty, the Cascades, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Disneyland and Hollywood. You get Opryland, Dollywood, the Smokies, Six Flags Over Texas and Branson. We agree to split the Grand Canyon (you get the south rim, we get the north). And while we’re at it, we get Intel, Apple, Twitter and Google; you get Halliburton, Enron and Dell (good luck with that).

And no hard feelings, but what this means is that we’ll own 86 percent of America’s venture capital and have 92 percent of the young entrepreneurs. For the first time ever, we’ll get to keep 100 percent of our tax revenue (go ahead, look it up), and for the first time ever, you’ll get the satisfaction of paying for your own schools, hospitals, military bases, bridges, highways, dams and flood control. This may strike you as a real hardship, but trust us on this one: Paying for your own stuff can be incredibly rewarding.

Just so there aren’t any surprises, when this divorce is final, the blue states (we haven’t settled on a name yet) are going to be pro-choice, anti-war. We’ll own most of the country’s fresh water, 95 percent of the best wines, most of the cheese and natural gas and low-sulfur coal, all of the redwoods, most of the pine forests, the best beaches and stem cell research. We get the Ivy’s, MIT, Stanford, the Seven Sisters, the Bruins, the Trojans and the Ducks. You get Ole Miss, Bob Jones University, the Crimson Tide and the Gamecocks.

Of course, you also get 99 percent of the Southern Baptists, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, most of the mosquitoes and the obese people (and all of their health care costs), 96 percent of the televangelists, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Dick Morris.

One more thing. We’re taking the good weed. The pot they grow down around Chihuahua, Mexico, is all yours. And while we’re on that subject, the southern border is yours, too, except the California and New Mexico parts — we like Hispanics.

What’s left to say that hasn’t been said? Fact is, this was never going to work. Most of you folks believe that climate change is a lot of hooey and Earth was made in seven days, 6,000 years ago. We just can’t go there. But we gave it a shot! Two hundred years is a long time to beat your head against the brick wall of an unhappy marriage.

A lot of historians have argued that we would have been a whole lot better off going our separate ways in 1861. Sure, Abe Lincoln was a Republican then, but today he’d be as blue as the ocean. He tried. He thought we could transcend our differences and learn to live with one another.

Even the Lincolns of the world make mistakes. It’s time to move on. We wish you well, and let us know how it’s working out.

Paul VanDevelder is a journalist, a screenwriter and the author, most recently, of “Savages and Scoundrels: The Untold Story of America’s Road to Empire through Indian Territory.” He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

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  1. United we stand and divided we fall. Just look at Europe! Like it or not the country is divided. If the November 2012 elections proved anything that we can all agree on its this simple fact. The primary task of this president is to unite the country and the people by leading with words and deeds. I'm not optimistic but I am hopeful. The responsibilty lies squarely on President Obama, not Congress, and defintely not on previous presidents, like George W. Bush. If President Obama fails to understand this simple fact and act to achieve unity, his legacy, the country and the democratic party will all suffer.


  2. This is really funny considering that California argues on a regular basis that it should split into North and South California based on water rights. (I wonder what NC and SC would think about State Name abbreviations.)

  3. I've wondered out loud and in writing as well whether we are so evenly divided that we need more than one country. We seem to have two widely separating visions of the country we want and its future. Continuing to contest for meager majorities for one vision or the other has only widened our separation and made a mockery of the "U" word in the name of our country.

    Maybe it's no longer possible for the "pursuit of happiness" to take us in the same direction.