The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
Brian Gongol

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In honor of Independence Day, we should open up a sort of new deal to the world: Any country that wants to become a new state is welcome to do so, as long as they're not bringing us any new debt and aren't involved in some kind of war.

It could be a winning proposition for everyone involved: We get more trade, more tax revenues, and more people openly embracing American ideals all over the world. They get more trade, military protection, and the right to call themselves Americans.

Why not? Let Cuba in, or one of the Baltic states, or a Canadian province or two. Or even Greenland. Let any country in, as long as they agree to the terms and conditions of being American. If American ideals are ultimately to prevail around the world, shouldn't we be open to growing as a nation?

It would have to be a strictly voluntary affair -- we're not talking about imperialism of any sort. Just an open invitation. And here's a practical reason to give this consideration: The Federal debt is almost up to $11.5 trillion: It stands right now at $11,489,560,999,310.74. That's huge. And it's only going to swell as the Baby Boomers retire and start drawing from Social Security and Medicare. We need to find new ways to pay the bills, and soon. And there aren't a lot of options other than reduced benefits, higher taxes, or higher retirement ages...unless we add a whole bunch of new workers to the taxpaying system, at least to buy ourselves enough time to get some fundamental reforms in place. And there are many parts of the world today teeming with young people, many of whom are already growing up in a highly Americanized world anyway.

The notion of adding new states to the union isn't as outrageous as it might sound on the surface. Check out Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution. We have rules for allowing new states into the country. We used to add states to the union with much greater frequency, but there's no reason we have to consider our country's boundaries permanent. We have military installations deployed around the world, and some pretty far-out ideas for floating permanent naval bases have already been run up the flagpole. We're already a nation with much broader geographic bounds than we presently consider.

And things are even more malleable within the country than we sometimes realize. California, with all of its massive budgetary problems, is being challenged from the inside by a movement to split the Golden State so that they'll have a better chance of getting their super-sized problems down to a manageable size. There have even been some occasional whispers that some smaller states, like the Dakotas, Iowa, and Nebraska might consider some voluntary mergers to consider saving on overhead costs. (Interstate merger talks are almost undoubtedly non-starters, since they involve giving up seats in the US Senate, but people have brought them up before.)

But back to the main question: We talk a good game here about believing in American ideals, but in practice, the public often displays a strange hostility to people voluntarily expressing their desire to become Americans. Immigrants too often get a rough time out of people who forget that we're almost all descended from immigrants ourselves. Setting out the welcome mat to new states would be a way of underscoring the truth of our honored belief that America is a place for...
...your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
On a couple of practical matters: The Green Party really needs to figure out that they're never likely to triumph in a two-party system. But that doesn't mean they can't have an effect on the political system. Interest groups of all stripes need to realize they're only likely to get anything done by working within the two major parties, not outside them. Like it or not, that's how the system works -- and it's because of the mathematics of vote-counting, not because the system is rigged. It isn't. Also, practically speaking, we need to re-tune our behavior to acknowledge a simple truth: "You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant." Patience and deliberation make things happen.

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