OK

In the last installment, we envisioned what would happen if the current conservative rhetoric succeeded in forcing a political/geographic split of American into the United States (the northeast coast, the west coasts, some of the northern states) and a new evangelical conservative republic called Jesusland.

We surveyed the probable constitutional, political and legal structure of Jesusland—based on the ideas about government we’ve heard from the secular and religious right over the past fifty years or more.

What happened to Jesusland, after its founding? What happened to the United States that it chose to secede from? (continued)

The surviving United States retained the original Constitution and government and was jocularly referred as "The United States of Canada." But in fact the surviving old republic retained its national sovereignty and the name of the United States of America. For the sake of clarity, I'll refer to the old, pre-split government and its adherent states as "the blue US."

The world's reaction to the split between the blue US and Jesusland results in an global economic panic. It is unclear to creditor nations whether the debt owed them by the United States will be paid at all. Using force to take repayment in kind is not an option, since both of the new republics retain a formidable defense capability. "Jesusland," the new Christian republic composed of former red states, formally repudiates the debt--arguing that it is debt owed by a former socialist US government that they never recognized as legitimate. The blue US eventually negotiates a re-structured repayment scheme with international creditors.

In the years following the split, the blue US becomes a technological and economic powerhouse. This is partially due to educational advantages that already exist in those states, and partially due to the fact that the best brains in Jesusland have fled the new country for the "blue US."

The "blue US" has its woes—it’s densely populated and illegal immigrants continue to pour in (because the personal and legal situation of immigrants in Jesusland is worse.) But though the immigrants arriving in the blue US work cheap, they enjoy a higher standard of living and education than their cousins in Jesusland. There is no legal distinction between new immigrants and the native-born citizens of the US. The immigrants are protected by the blue US’ social safety network in times of economic downturn, and become active in government. Like immigrants before them, they find that the path to advancement in the US is through business, political activism, and public service (service in the armed forces, for example, provide a path to advancement for some immigrants.)

The blue US retains the existing institutions of government. But there are reforms. Health care is recognized as a human right. The size of public employment relative to private sector expands (for example, the expansion of the new health care infrastructure.) Private sector enterprises begin to flourish because the creation of new jobs stimulates the consumer spending that drives those enterprises. Citizens recognize that creation of employment by government intervention during economic downturns is one of the first duties of government. The military-industrial complex remains a key factor in the blue US economy.

Another key reform is voting. Instant runoff voting succeeds in trials in the cities and states, and is adopted by amendment. No more "either/or" choices for the electorate when it comes to choosing policy makers. Another key reform in the composition of the Senate spells an end to poorer states with lower populations negotiating a disproportionate share of federal spending for themselves (because they no longer have "the same number of senators" as states with much larger and more productive populations.)

As before, there is a progressive income tax. Attempts are made (not always successfully) to transfer the tax burden to the wealthiest citizens, rather than putting the greater share of the burden on working families.

The blue US retains its party system. There is a conservative minority active in the blue US that wants the blue US become more like Jesusland; as before, its leaders are wealthy and it is well-financed and influential, using corporate media ownership to spread its political message. Unlike before, a Fairness Doctrine has been revived that requires equal time for different viewpoints on broadcast airwaves.

Both of the new nations retain their nuclear and WMD capabilities. There is a de facto cold war between the nations, but both nations trade with each other and are a key market for the other. There are movements in both the new nations that seek to re-unite the "old America." The Jesusland reunification movement considers use of force to achieve that end ("because the rest of the country was stolen from us by socialists.")

The blue US reunification movement focuses more on the hope of peaceful re-unification of the country. As with the cold war between the US and Russia, they hope that the blue US will simply outdistance Jesusland economically and that Jesusland will come to an end via internal reforms and without open warfare.

There’s some reason for this hope. Shortly after the euphoria of "liberation" wears off, the people of Jesusland see a steep decline in living standards. The native-born US upper class cannot compete with the immigrants to Jesusland in terms of working for lower wages, because this would force a decline in their standard of living and their ability to pay for their own homes. As in the blue US, the military/industrial complex plays a key role in creating employment—this employment targets the native-born, since immigrants are legally second class citizens and "guest of Jesusland." (See the previous diary.) A disproportionate number of its native-born citizens work in sectors dependent on its defense and security; this constitutes most of Jesusland’s "manufacturing sector."

Jesusland is very rich in natural resources (though lack of water remains as a development problem.) Home ownership is becoming rarer for the citizens. The government’s philosophy prohibits it from intervening to "artificially" subsidize home ownership. Or education or critical health care, etc. Citizens are to rely on their own savings when they have to deal with problems like retirement, old age,  family health crisis, periodic layoffs, etc. And savings are scarce, because wages are low—the native-born citizens must compete in the labor market with the immigrants who continue to arrive from across the border. There is much talk about taking serious action to limit immigration, but it goes nowhere. This is because the leaders of Jesusland encourage immigration—they want to keep the working people of Jesusland "competitive" and the prices of Jesusland exports "competitive."

It is not easy to be an immigrant in Jesusland. If you are not a native-born citizen, your children will not be, either, whether they are born in Jesusland or not. You can be deported at the pleasure of the governing authorities and have no procedural rights to contest the decision. The standard of living is higher than in your homeland so you stay, but you work cheap until you can get a situation in the blue US or some other country. There are no "social services" to help you, and you (like the other citizens of Jesusland) are subject to surveillance. Five years after the founding of Jesusland, rioting between ethnic groups (with the police and security forces intervening on behalf of the native-born) occurs regularly.

An economic downturn for Jesusland leads to massive layoffs and riots in its immigrant communities. These are put down brutally and leaders are jailed or deported. Civil strife is also a regular occurrence among the native-born. This is because there is a huge disparity of wealth between the leaders of the native-born and the working families. The working native-born feel cheated that their negligible political advantages over the immigrant class have not led to economic advantages or prosperity or even financial security. Like the SA in Nazi Germany, this source of potential revolt is policed and put down—those who protest social inequalities among native born citizens are arrested and imprisoned.

The other causes of civil strife between the native born include religious differences. The Constitution of Jesusland recognizes "a special place" in the official structure for "the Christianity of the Bible," as defined by the government. Those whose religious beliefs fail the government standard (including Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, agnostics and atheists, etc.) find that their children are being indoctrinated with conservative evangelical Christian beliefs in the public schools. Protests are futile and lead to surveillance, and it is common knowledge that the way up the power access ladder in Jesusland requires the aspirant to have "the right religious beliefs." This leads to charges of persecution and emigration; those who remain behind occupy a social niche somewhere between evangelical Christians and the immigrant labor force.

Even within the conservative evangelical power structure, there are deep divisions. Charges of sectarian favoritism are made by denominations who feel marginalized. (For example, charismatic Protestants.) The charges are important and have practical consequences, because revenue raised from sales tax (for example) is turned over to the Protestant churches to support their charities and institutions. A denomination teaching "false Christianity" can be deprived of its funding and its broadcast access. The government of Jesusland determines whether or not a teaching is "false and un-Biblical." The process is often influenced by popular feeling and political advantage.

Christians who find themselves on the losing end of the dispute begin to secretly organize themselves into armed groups.

Jesusland is a violent society. Crime is a commonplace in the immigrant and rural communities. Despite the government’s best efforts to discourage it with Draconian punishments, alcoholism and drug abuse is common in both the city and the country (especially among young people.) Organized crime finds a lucrative market in Jesusland, supplying vices that are officially prohibited. (Oddly, though, casino gambling is legal and operated by the government; the resulting revenues from natives, immigrants and tourists are used to stave off taxation that would be required to fund infrastructure and government services.)

Jesusland’s prisons are brutal, because there is no popular sympathy for lawbreakers guaranteed "housing" and food in an economy where those things are not guaranteed to the law-abiding. Corporal punishment is common, accepted as an alternative to lengthy and expensive incarceration for minor offenses. Capital punishment is enshrined in the Constitution and is carried out daily. There is a strong movement supporting capital punishment for "incorrigible offenders." The hope is that this policy will encourage the same to emigrate.

The media is not officially controlled. But there is a deadening sameness in the news coverage and points of view expressed on broadcasting. Top stories usually concern murders, natural disasters, war news, sports, and celebrity culture. There is very little coverage of scandal within the government, except when the subject of the coverage has fallen out of official favor. Investigative journalism largely deals with "un-Jesusland activity within the borders of Jesusland." The general tone of the professional media is pro-government, pro-private sector, and xenophobic. (Daily newspapers are increasingly a "thing of the past" in both Jesusland and the blue US, because they are no longer financially viable.)

The internet is not regulated and transmissions from abroad are widely available, but internet use is monitored via warrantless searches by the government. Citizens and immigrants are jailed if "illegal content" is found on their computers or in their home libraries.

The happiest people in Jesusland are members of its official and unofficial "oligarchy." Unregulated financial markets and  private sector, with Jesusland’s vast natural resources, have quickly turned some multi-millionaires into billionaires. The distribution of wealth in Jesusland is similar to that of the United States in 1900: about 2% of the nation’s population control more than 90% of the country’s wealth. But the ownership is not limited to the business community. The most influential religious and political figures in Jesusland command astonishing private fortunes—which are untaxed. Within ten years of the establishment of the nation, this oligarchy owns most of the land in Jesusland. Their children attend exclusive "leadership schools" and are fast-tracked into important positions in the government and private sector. Higher education is restricted to those who can afford it, except for a fraction of talented students who receive technology scholarships. (After the discovery of an embarrassing trend, students accepting such scholarships must sign a non-emigration agreement that requires them to continue to reside in Jesusland for fifteen years.)

The foreign policy of Jesusland and its ultimate fate will be discussed in an upcoming diary.

Originally posted to Bill Prendergast on Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 09:43 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.