America is an uneasy amalgam of people with very different ideas of what government — and life — should look like. So what if we codified the political and cultural divisions that already exist? Secession is one option, but almost no one actually wants that. The U.S. Constitution provides another mechanism that would allow a constructive split while still maintaining a federal government: interstate compacts.

In New York Magazine, Sasha Issenberg walks us through what that version of the U.S. might look like. Some of it’s great. Some of it’s not. All of it’s fascinating.

It was not just manufacturing and resource extraction that boomed in the Red Fed. As soon as the Blue Fed established its single-payer system, medical specialists began taking their practices to states where they wouldn’t be subject to the Regional Health Service’s price controls or rationing. Sloan Kettering now treats New York as little more than an administrative base; the majority of its hospital rooms are in Texas. Johns Hopkins considered closing its medical school when nearly half the faculty decamped en masse to Baylor. Wealthy Blue Fed residents willing to pay out of pocket now invariably travel to Houston when they want an immediate appointment with a specialist of their choice. The arrivals area at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport is packed with chauffeurs from van services run by clinics supported by specializing in such medical tourism.

Auctions of public lands across the interior west, along with the privatization of the Tennessee Valley Authority, generated a quick gusher of cash. Vowing not to let the new government wealth create more bureaucracy, Red Fed leaders deposited it all in a Free States Energy Trust Fund that would pay out an annual dividend to every adult and child in the region — a no-strings-attached cash transfer of hundreds of dollars per year. The Southern Baptist Convention encouraged its members to tithe their dividend checks directly into new aid societies to help the least fortunate. The most popular charitable cause has been a relief society to aid religious conservatives in the Blue Fed seeking to migrate to the Red Fed.

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