Southern discomfort

November 21, 2000

Southern discomfort

After writing last week that the South never should have been given the vote because of all the electoral snafus down there, I discovered a very rare and peculiar phenomenon: The average person was even madder at the South than I was.

Along with denying them the franchise, people I talked to suggested more stringent measures, from considering each Southerner as three-fifths of a person for apportionment purposes to some form of out-and-out corporal punishment.

So I was compelled to reassess my reassessment. And I have indeed come to a new conclusion.

Through all the finger-pointing and blame throwing of our presidential election malaise, I have found one man who unequivocally deserves the finger pointed straight at him: Abe Lincoln.

More than any man, he is responsible for preserving the Union, which I think we can all now agree was a mistake.


When South Carolina voted to secede, I think he should have, with a wave of his hand, said "Fine. Four score and seven years from now no one will care. Next century, be sure to give my regards to Strom Thurmond."

When the rest of the South went along, he should have said, "What, you think the rest of the nation can't live without Vidalia onions and peanut soup? Pass. Drop us a card if you get a chance. Good Luck and good riddance."

Well? The only thing the north would have been the poorer for is Key West, and they wanted to secede from the rest of Florida anyway.

And what did the South really need from the North? An industrial base? Oh please. They already had the two main components of a happy lifestyle: Bourbon and sugar. Everything beyond that is just details.

Think of all the lives that would have been saved by avoiding the Civil War. Think of all the heartache that would be saved today by not being routinely assaulted by Civil War re-enactors.

Then we all would have had a free choice. Anyone who wanted southern presidents - be they Bill Clinton, Al Gore or George W. Bush, could have had the lot. And they could have elected people like Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris to their heart's content. And if they couldn't fill out a ballot properly, they could all commiserate over the Shoney's breakfast bar.

People who don't like gun control and high taxes would have to do nothing more than move from the USA to the CSA.

People who value education and clean air over the freedom to pray in schools and run a company free of regulation could stay put.

Everybody's happy.

Best of all, we would have this "big government vs. small government" argument solved once and for all. Since both nations would have been starting out on roughly equal footing, it would have been a good control experiment.

Being agrarian-based, maybe the South never would have suffered a Depression. Maybe everyone in the North right now would have full health care coverage.

Elections in the North would pit the Democratic Party against the Socialist Party. Elections in the South would pit the Republican Party against the Silverback and Hog Grease Party.

Of course, there might be problems we could not possibly foresee. For example, the North might be faced with the expanding alien crisis, with thousands of illegal Kentuckians streaming into Ohio.

But I'm sure when it all came down to it, the South would be perfectly happy under President Bush. And the North would be perfectly happy under President Dukaki - hold on, my plan may have just exposed a flaw.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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