We Can Stop the Crazy Train Before It Gets to Greece

Let’s face it.  We’re a deeply divided country.   You can make a case, I guess, that it’s not the American people who disagree on just about everything; it’s the politicians.  And there’s no question that the two parties “disagree profoundly on a vision of government,” as an editorial in the Wall Street Journal puts it.

But we’re the ones who send gladiators to Washington to fight our battles.  They’re just doing what we supposedly want.  And the so-called supercommittee’s failure to come to an agreement on deficit reduction is just the latest piece of evidence indicating how polarized we are.

Some of us want smaller government and lower taxes.  Others don’t want the government to touch their entitlements and want the “rich” to pick up the tab. Some think we’re on an unsustainable path to economic collapse.  Others think we can pretty much go on this way forever. Each side thinks the other side is intransigent.  And we don’t like each other very much, either.

What to do?  Well, let’s imagine that Congress gets together long enough to put a referendum before the American people.  And the question we’d have to vote on is this:  Would you be willing to split this nation in two:  a Blue State America and a Red State America; a liberal America and a conservative America; each with the ability to write its own laws and its own rules?  Each side could put in place all the pieces to fit its vision of what America should be.

We could divide the country in several ways.  All the land east of the Mississippi River could be Blue America; all the land to the west could be Red America. Or we could divide the country north and south; the north could be Blue America and the south could be Red America.  Think of it as the Civil War without the war.

People could move to whatever country they wanted to live in.  We can work out the pesky details about selling and buying houses and finding jobs later.

Under this plan, Americans and their elected officials would no longer have profoundly different visions of what their country should be.  In Blue America they could vote for all the entitlements they want and raise taxes to 40 percent, or 100 percent if that’s what they want.  What they do is their business.  In Red America they could cut taxes along with the size of government, deep six all sorts of red tape, and let the free market do its thing.

So here’s my question:  After a few years (at most), which America do you think would be thriving — the one with big government and high taxes or the one with low taxes and small government?  Which America would be a dynamic economic force producing a high standard of living for its citizens and which would look like Greece?

It’ll never happen you say.  And, of course, you’re right.  But we can accomplish the same goal in a more mundane way.  How about we hold an election.  We could do it in November 2012. About 40 percent of Americans say they’re conservatives and about 20 percent say they’re liberal.  If they decide to vote that way for a change, we may finally stop the crazy train that, as of the moment, is speeding its way to Greece.

Bernie's Next Column.

Enter your email and find out first.

  • Jesse Lyles

    Class Warfare and Welfare along with in-side trading in general to me is not fair,but the same.If our hot shot politicians are not getting every dollars printed or borrowed,then the welfare bums,get the crumbs throw at their feet.We the taxes payers have to do the dishes.I am not happy at the inside trading in Washington D.C.,but remember this.If you are one of the welfare bums,living in a hud house and getting food stamps,wick and medical insurance,then this is my home town trading.A three bedroom house can bring seven to nine hundred a month. The food stamp receivers can get between eight to nine hundred a month,depends on the family.And lets just say a family of five receives twelve thousand a year in medical expenses counting medicines,give or a take a thousand.Then factor in the help on electric and heating utility,and I will try to be fair and say fifth-teen hundred a year.I say this number because my utility average about twenty-five hundred a year or so a year and I live alone.But now not let us forget,the rebates out there than can range from three thousand to seven thousand a year,for doing so little.These people also hit every church that has a jar of peanut butter to give away.Lets say a thousand a year there.So now I will say this.I have not done this,but I have seen this on my block back home,every month for years.I built schools for thirty-three years or middle class home.Paying my taxes in Arkansas.I am a brick and block layer. I am sure I have left out a lot of other free things that they get. Not to mention if they get to make a taxes free dollar,working for cash. I have been fair with my math and it come to about forty thousand dollars a year.To me its the same,a crime.Maybe we the taxes payers alt to protest the hud houses and the White House Lawn and any other houses that they are all in. Then maybe I will get a plate of crumbs ! Jesse Lyles in ARKANSAS. Thank-You and will see You on the Foxes working.

  • Wil Burns

    Bernie, Here’s another reason for a divided America:

    Don’t drive BLACK in Texas-

    Keep this little incident in mind as you travel over the hills and through the woods this holiday season!
    Glozell couldn’t have predicted the large glitch in this real life car trip where crossing Texas was a necessity. There is absolutely nothing humorous in being singled out in a mysterious traffic stop. It’s unbelievable when it is finally revealed why they have been stopped and held up.

    http://tiny.cc/o9q1w

    • EddieD_Boston

      Is your point that the cop represents a government created union job saved from lay off by the 2009 Stimulus Package?

  • Wil Burns

    Hey Bernie, Thirty years of an all out propaganda war has made unions and the word liberal something no one wants to admit to supporting. Remember, every time you have conservatives, in complete control, bad things happen.

  • mike hurst

    We are divided because for most of my life we had 3 networks that nightly quoted the NY Times and Washington Post in their stories. Until the new media came on the scene and shined the light of truth on the lies, spiking of relevent stories, slanted coverage of the deomcratic party (liberals) etc. If a liberal politician lies its a career enhancement if a republican lies he resigns or is voted out.

  • Drew Page

    Bernie — I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that has considered the option of dividing the U.S. into Red state and Blue state Americas. America has become more and more polarized along ideological lines over the years. Political disagreements have degenerated into intense hatreds. You are correct in saying that we have elected ‘gladiators’ to champion our separate ideologies. When they fight amongst each other, which is exactly what we elected thenm to do, it is hypocritical for us to complain that they can’t come to agreement.

    When half the country wants to have the other half pay for the things they want, it is less than surprising that the half that is chosen to do all the paying will disagree.

    Maybe the time for the ‘referendum’ has come.

  • cmacrider

    Bernie: Although your geo-political solution is interesting, and with the ideological ineptitude in the WH at the present moment …. I understand the anger and pessimism evidenced in many of the comments attached to your article.

    Possibly as a Canadian I am in a position to remind Americans of a few realities about America since as a non American I can hardly be decried as being an American jingoist.
    1. You should thank your founders for structuring your Republic with a division of powers. Just think where you would be if Obama had the powers of a Prime Minister. You would be hurtling down the road to being slightly to the left of Sweden. If Obama is stalemated for the next year …. stay calm … it merely shows the genius of the Founders of your Federation.
    2. The fact that Congress is presently in a stalemate is the very thing you founders intended to prevent some small group from getting power and “fundamentally transforming America.”
    3. Believe me …. socialism and the welfare state are in their dying days. America was one of the last to try this experiment …. but if you look north to Canada we tried all that nonsense in the 60′s, 70′s, and 80′s and came to our senses and moved right and elected a Conservative Government. (As you may have read …. we are weathering this recession quite nicely under the stewardship of sane fiscal policies by the Conservative.)
    4. Do not underestimate America’s ability to re-invent itself. I am old enough to remember all the pessimism and predictions of decline n the 80′s when Japan was supposed to surpass America as the economic super power. It didn’t happen and within a short period of time America was more powerful than ever.
    5. All that has to happen is two things: (a) Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians have to recognize that the single most important mission is to get Obama out of the Whitehouse. They can subsequently sort out their differences through rational negotiation (which is something that can’t occur with the Left) and (b) the Republican party has to not simply go after “independents” but take the offensive and actively recruit Latino’s, African Americans, and trade unionists. Contrary to conventional political wisdom …. these people are not the exclusive property of the Democrats . Many visible minorities in America are strong on family values and hold their religion to be essential to their lives. (Sounds more akin to the Republicans than the secularist family destroying Dems.) Additionally, it is folly to assume that simply because a T.U. leader endorses the Dems and gives them money that all members of that T.U. will vote Dem. The Keystone Pipeline provides a perfect opportunity for the Republicans to stand up and support the so called “working man.”
    6. Finally, do not let Obama’s socialized medicine plan ever get off the election plate. And for God’s sake call it what it is … it is socialized medicine implemented by a socialist. Forget that panzy talk of O’Reilly’s about how Obama is a “progressive”. O’Reilly probably thinks the British Labour Party is just a bunch of “progressives” . Believe me on this last point since Canadians have had to deal with socialism since 1940 … so maybe we know more about the beast than does O’Reilly who otherwise is a good man.

    BTW: A recent impartial study came out in Canada which concluded that the average American worker is 20% more productive that the average Canadian worker. So where did this “American’s have become lazy B.S. come from????? Maybe .. just maybe the American people are not to blame for the current financial crisis.

    God Bless

    • EddieD_Boston

      Your post should be required reading for liberals.

    • Ron Kean

      Very perceptive.

    • Paul Courtney

      cmac: Indeed, ey? I won’t underestimate us, but the re-invention may follow a real collapse. Unfortunately, the present stalemate has locked in stimulus-level spending until a new budget is passed. This is why Nancy and Harry failed to pass budgets before Nov., 2010, and why Dems in Senate won’t even let one through to Obama. Our press likes the spending, so we get very few pensive columns in NYTimes etc. on stalemates caused by Dems. We might give Barry the boot (likely) and keep a strong fiscal-restraint group leading the House Rs (maybe), but 60 stout conservative senators? We can repeal Obamacare, but if we’re “cutting spending” by spending more (just a bit less “more” than they’d planned), we’re still going off a fiscal cliff. Let me be clear: I believe that we may bounce all the way down that cliff, but like that great American Homer Simpson, after we hit bottom, we’ll get up and be back next week!

  • Andre Mcknight

    “Others don’t want the government to touch their entitlements and want the “rich” to pick up the tab.” My trip to London ,last month, revealed this. The UK is also on borrowed time, with their heads in the sands and everyone pretending not to see the approaching storm. Americans see the storm and we are yelling at the top of our lungs about it! This current Administration is trying to ignore us, but our shouts will be heard around the world come 2012!

  • DOOM161

    The 20% liberal argument unfortunately doesn’t hold much water. As you well know, Bernie, liberals don’t realize they’re liberal. These are the people that think Bush was a fiscal conservative.

  • Bill

    This has already started. Liberals have moved from the Blue States that overtax, e.g. Massachusetts and California, to low tax states, e.g. New Hampshire and Colorado. However, these people then brought their liberal ideology to their new homes and are responsible for these states becoming purple. As with the plants that those in the East brought to the West, trying to escape their allergies, they seem oblivious to the fact that they are the source of their own problems. Nothing ever changes–the old German expression of too soon old, too late smart still is valid.

  • Steve Angers

    I think that might be an interesting idea for a speculative political novel, Bernie, splitting America into ideologically distinct Red and Blue regions and chronicling the resulting developments. However, I’m not sure the story would end quite the way you anticipate.

    I rather suspect that both regions would eventually succumb to the wretched excesses of their individual beliefs. And it would probably only be a matter of time, given the example before them, before Real Red subdivided into Right Red, Righteous Rose, Bashful Blush, Patently Purple and, probably, Better Dead Than Red. And Big Blue would probably degenerate into Rigid Royal Blue, Amazing Azure, Totally Turquoise, Pure Periwinkle, and Maybe Mauve.

    We didn’t evolve away from a system of generally laissez-faire capitalism into our present quasi-socialist state because malevolent forces were manipulating us for their own benefit and against our better interests. There were flaws in our capitalist, limited-government society of the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century that demanded change. The American people, through their political representatives, recognized that need and tried to respond accordingly. The problem is that we have now gone too far in a distinctly flawed direction and appear to lack the awareness or political will for a resolute reversal of course.

    But blaming others in our society, or assuming that we have all the answers, as other posters have done here, is probably not going to produce effective and timely change. However frustrating it may be to do so, we need to continue to engage others who don’t naturally agree with us, and accept that others may have valid perspectives and intelligent ideas to which we should pay attention. If that path looks daunting and tedious, it is.

    But if we insist on being one-hundred-percent correct in our thinking, and that others must recognize that we are righter than they are, we aren’t likely to promote any broad positive changes. We may as well set up Real Red and Big Blue now. Then we can settle down, smug in our conviction that God smiles down on our way of doing things, until some of our fellow Reddites begin to question our certainty and it’s time for the next great schism.

  • Rochard Rogers

    The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution was supposed to allow us to choose state-by-state whether to be blue or red.

    • John In MA

      I’m with Rochard (Richard?) on this one. The problem isn’t the division of ideology at the federal level. It’s the fact that the federal government is so big and intrusive that the impact of ideology is huge on our daily life and unavoidable. You cannot move from blue state to red and escape the tyranny (using exaggerated terms thanks to Judge Napolitano).

  • Fred Pasek

    Well, the gridlock we currently have is at least a far better option that the two years of unchecked spending under the Obama, Pelosi, Reid regime. I’m actually kind of proud of the Republicans for holding firm. For only controling the house, they’ve done well. And, yes, we have to have it out with each other.

  • Ken Besig, Israel

    The only ones who can stop the madness are the politicians who created it, and they are so corrupt that they don’t even care, all they want to do is protect their benefits.

    • Bruce A.

      I blame the voting public. The same people or type of professional politicians are put back in office year after year. The founding fathers envisioned citizen legisators, not a professional cadre of recycled so called leaders.

  • Joseph Maloney

    It’s too late. Runaway train. Prepare.

  • EddieD_Boston

    Watch Jerry Springer. These are the losers liberals think the “rich”‘ should give their hard earned $ to. Then these same losers will keep breeding and eventually there will be more of them than us.
    And there isn’t one liberal with enough brains to figure out we’re on the same path as the Roman Empire.
    I worry about the America my son will some day raise his family in.
    And again, not one liberal gets it. Even a little.

    • Drew Page

      Eddie — I find myself in agreement with you. The Jerry Springer crowd are exactly what the liberals want “the rich” to pay more taxes to support. Did you ever hear any of those who call for “the rich” to pay “their fair share” ever define either of those terms? Most people, regardless of how much they earn, think that anyone who makes twice what they do is “rich” and should pay more in income tax, not only in dollars, but in percentage of income as well.

      Today, Obama talks about increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires, but not long ago, he was wanting to increase income taxes on anyone with a family income of $250,000 or more and individuals with an income of $200,000 or more, that was Obama’s definition of “rich”.

      • EddieD_Boston

        What makes liberals particularly stupid is they talk about people who make $200,000 a year as millionaires. They obviously have bad math skills. Thank NEA!

        In Boston $200,000 allows you a nice life but not a lot more.

  • sam

    jus’ love it!(as soon as u open ur mouth,words of meaning come out!)da divided america into blue & red-brilliant idea,if only america actually did this in reality 5 yrs ago,america wud now stil b da greatest nation on earth……

  • Jeffreydan

    Bernie,
    I’ve thought about the Red America/Blue America concept before, most recently when there was that talk of Texas seceding, and you are spot-on.

    Of course, it would be only a matter of time before liberals move to Red America, drink in the freedom & prosperity, and then decide everything has to change because it isn’t perfect enough to suit them.

  • Glen Stambaugh

    I have a friend who says that if ALL the $$ were somehow confiscated from the wealthy and given to the poor, in 5 years the poor would again be poor and the wealthy again be wealthy. I think with high-tax & failing states we’re already seeing a population shift of those disproportionatly taxed to redder states. Too bad we can’t escape federal taxation/regulatory abuse without becoming expats.

  • Tim Ned

    The situation you describe in this article actually existed at one time. But the REDS found a wall was needed to keep people in. Churchill called the wall an Iron Curtain.

  • Will Swoboda

    Good thought Bernie but remember, the blues can’t get by without the reds money. I believe that the reason most of the blues do not have the power that the reds do is because most of the blues are tired by the end of the day working.
    Keep up the your good work and I’ll check in between shifts.
    Thanks, Will Swoboda

    • joe from louisiana

      Working at what? The blues are two groups;the guilt ridden offspring of wealthy parents and the freeloaders counting what the gubmint owes them. Extreme example but more than a kernel of truth.

      • EddieD_Boston

        Yup.

        • EddieD_Boston

          And b/c the affluent live so far away from these gimme creatures (both figuratively and geographically) they really don’t understand what makes them poor, or an underclass.
          If you have 3 kids with three drug dependant ex-cons who don’t work you’re going to be poor. That’s not capitalism’s fault or Bush’s for that matter.
          It’s the fault of liberals that created this “take the easy way out” mentality.
          Plus, liberals have convinced them they’re victims so they figure they have everything coming to them.

  • Richard C

    Come the day after Inauguration Day 2013 three things must take place in order to save the republic.
    1. repeal all components of Obamacare
    2. Pass balanced budget amendment
    3. establish congressional term limits

    All are possible except the final one I’m afraid.

  • Paul Courtney

    Bernie: Good thought experiment, didn’t know you were a philosopher (stand up philosopher?). Maybe I read Mark Steyn too much, but I’m sliding into the “unsustainable path to economic collapse” camp. Ever since Mitch McConnell announced the goal (“one term”), Dems have cynically stalled while accusing Rs of stalling. Dems are stalling because it’s the best way to keep the money spigot open, otherwise we’d have seen at least one budget get through the Senate (or a Dem House) in, like, four yrs. Dems are confident the press will not report this, too busy reporting R “intransigence”. Even if Rs win POTUS and 50+ Senators in “12, we need SIXTY, and not just 60 Rs, 60 Conservatives. If not, we’ll live to see a world (Steyn again) without America on top, and I fear it’ll be like the Manning-less Colts!

  • Rich L

    The strange part of the wide divide is that most Americans are right in the middle of it, whether as “right-leaning” Democrats or “left-leaning” Republicans. The divide is, in part, caused by crafting of congressional districts to assure that Democratic and Republican districts are safe. As a result, predominantly conservative and liberal districts are created. This makes the right and left extremes of the parties more powerful since winning the primary is assurance of a general election victory. The middle of the 2 parties and independents are somewhat disenfranchised. Bernie, your proposal is 1 country short. We really need 1 for conservatives, 1 for liberals, and a very large one for the middle. Or we could look for a scientific non-partisan way to do congressional districting and re-empower the middle. But that would decrease the power of the political class in Washington so it is purely fantasy.

  • John

    I’m glad you spoke to this BG. It is not just a politician problem. They are a microcosm of our population and our overall views. It’s time us individual citizens take ownership for the conditions in our social and political worlds. As to the conservative message….why is it so difficult for the GOP to clarify that they support a safety net and help for the truly needy along with free enterprise?? Or don’t they??

    • rider237

      john, i skimmed all my morning info sources, which i do before i put my contacts in so that when my eyes cross my contacts don’t end up behind my eyeballs….and 5 to 1 had the dems telling people how the republicans wanted to protect the rich at the expense of the “poor”.
      i agree that conservatives had a problem with messaging, but lets fact it, the press isn’t to interested in what they have to say.
      i have a group of friend who are another microcosm of the population. of the 5, 2 are politically aware. the other 3 are continually surprised by all that happens around them. they are not stupid, they are just uninvolved.
      all are more or less conservative.
      if people don’t take the time to be educated, what hope have we that anything will ever change?

      • Kathie Ampela

        How to get the electorate to rise above reactionary anger and seek information out on their own terms? We have the tools necessary to do so..why would anyone fall for what they are spoonfed by a biased media? There are many problems with the political system, did you see Bill’s show last night on members of Congress and insider trading? These problems will take years to fix, but it has to start with an involved and interested public.