Really, this idea of letting each side have its ideological laboratory is built right into the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Liberals and progressives, are you sick and tired of troglodytic Republicans preventing you from creating the utopian society that you know lies just out of reach?
Conservatives and libertarians, are you terrified that runaway government spending will turn the entire country into Greece, or, worse, Detroit?
Independents and moderates, are you fed up with partisan squabbling?
If you count yourself among any of these groups, you should know that there is a miracle cure to what ails you, embedded in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. I’m talking about federalism.
In a 1932 opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote: “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
What if we built upon this concept to conduct a Grand Experiment involving the two dominant ideologies in this country?
Right after the 2016 elections, let’s give the zealots on the left and the right two years to develop model laws that conform to their respective ideologies. Those laws will address all major issues — taxation, entitlements, immigration, abortion, light rail and soft-drink size.
After the model laws have been written, we’ll have a two-year debate as to which set of laws is better. On Election Day 2020, voters in each state will decide which set will apply to that state.
States that choose the liberal/progressive agenda will be grouped into one ideological region called — you guessed it — “Utopia.” States that opt for the conservative/libertarian agenda will make up “Darwinia.”
After the election, we’ll have a two-year moratorium on the implementation of the model laws so anyone who wants to move can do so. After that, if you don’t like the ideological bent of the laws that govern you, you’ll have to tell it to your shrink; your political representatives won’t care.
During the moratorium, we can also reallocate resources. Since no self-respecting utopia would maintain a standing army, the military will go to Darwinia. With luck, the neocons and libertarians will reach an impasse on future foreign interventions.
Meanwhile, since right-wingers can’t stand bureaucracy, Washington, D.C., and the rest of the federal government will go to Utopia. In return, Darwinians will receive lifetime passes to the Smithsonian.
Once the kinks are worked out, the satisfaction of all Americans should improve dramatically. Utopians will finally be able to deposit all of their money into one government account, then withdraw funds from it to pay for anything that’s not already free.
On weekends, they’ll arise from their futons, strap on their Birkenstocks and take the light rail down to the never-ending Kumbaya Festival, where they’ll enjoy sitar music, scented candles and arugula.
In Darwinia, wealthy employers will line up their employees each Monday morning and fire half of them in order to instill a positive work ethic in the other half. Each year, Darwinians who survive this Gauntlet of Deregulation will fire their guns in the air as Dick Cheney hands out Gordon Gekko statuettes at the annual Mean Spirit Awards.
Independents and moderates will benefit, too. Instead of having to wait until the next election to “throw the bums out,” they’ll be able to live in RV parks along the borders, and cross over anytime they get the urge to be governed by a different set of bums.
As a conservative living in Minnesota, I recognize that I’ll probably have to move to Wyoming to reap the full benefits of this plan. On the other hand, if my suspicions about unrestrained liberalism are correct, I should be able to buy my house back in a decade or so for pennies on the dollar.
Gregg J. Cavanagh is in attorney in Maple Grove.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.