Hearing the music in states' rightDavid Hoppe

Long before George Bush Jr. was elected to a second term as president of these supposedly United States, leaving the country had become a popular topic of dinner table conversation among many people I know. It usually came up somewhere between the main course and dessert. If the subject was politics, one of us could be counted on to say something along the lines of, "If this keeps up, I'm outta here!" Haven't conservatives been telling us they wanted to get government off our backs? Now that we've got a government that none of us can stand, let's take them up on this idea.

At that point, talk would shift from the Bushies' myriad insults to our sensibilities to the sensible domestic policies of Canada, Ireland's booming dot.com economy or how The Lord of the Rings was turning New Zealand into Maoriwood.

Well, as most of us know by now, it appears that Bush the Younger is, indeed, going to be inaugurated as our nation's leader. Continued chaos in Iraq, a tumbling dollar, degradation of social services and a pro-life Supreme Court justice or two to follow.

It may be early yet, but so far it does not appear that many Americans are packing their bags for points abroad. This despite the fact that in the first 24 hours after the election, Canada's immigration Web site was reportedly deluged with hits seeking information on what it takes to relocate to the land of husky dogs and national health care. The problem is that while it may be easy to send our jobs overseas, sending people is another matter.

Sure, you can live a kind of gypsy life, munching magic mushrooms and teaching English to kids in Bangkok for a year if you're footloose and in the mood for a kind of working vacation. But relocating to another country and taking some semblance of an American-style middle-class life - under siege though that may be - with you is another matter.

Sad to say, but other English-speaking countries aren't as crazy about us as we might be about them. Immigration is possible, but there are conditions. It helps, for example, to have family already living in Britain, say, or Australia. It's also a plus to have a highly desirable skill, something that makes you stand out from a crowd. Oh, and it's good to be under 40 - less likelihood of your needing that free health care you've heard so much about.

Of course, the best thing of all is to have plenty of cash. If you've got enough dough to live on your own, you can live anywhere. Given the dollar's falling value versus other international currencies, this means, ironically, that the people most able to live abroad are Bush's best pals.

Like it or not, those of us afflicted with red state blues are simply going to have to find some other way of dealing with our country's latest mood swing. Personally, secession is looking better and better to me.

Secession, after all, is consistent with the rock-ribbed conservative values that are supposedly now in vogue. I realize that for liberals catchwords like "states' rights" and "local control" may at first sound more like Pig Latin than the King's English, but with a little repetition they begin to have a music all their own.

I mean, haven't conservatives been telling us they wanted to get government off our backs? Now that we've got a government that none of us can stand, let's take them up on this idea.

That means instead of waiting for that big, old, wasteful federal government to do the things we want, we'll do them here, in Indiana. We'll send back the big government bucks that will pay for a new terrain I-69 highway. "No thanks," we'll say to federal dollars for No Child Left Behind testing - there aren't enough of those dollars anyway. If we want to build highways or fix the schools we'll raise the money ourselves.

Where we used to look for federal and Supreme Court judges to uphold the ability of the federal government to enforce laws equally for everyone, no matter where they lived, we'll start backing judges who will let states do as they please.

In Indiana we'll make rules that make sense - to us. If people want to use medical marijuana, we'll let them because that's not the government's business. If gay couples want to get married, we'll let them do that, too. We'll make sure that every person who needs medicine gets it, even if it's from Canada, because we think that's the way things should be. Since we don't think people deserve to be punished for bad luck or making a stupid decision or two, we'll set up a safety net to give them a reasonable chance of getting back on their feet.

We Hoosiers will do everything we can to make life in Indiana as good as it can be. If that means turning our backs on a federal government that no longer represents our values or our best interests, then, to the extent we can, that is what we'll do. As someone once said, "No taxation without representation."

We'll take that idea to heart.

I realize that, being Hoosiers, the odds of our doing the kinds of things I've just described may be ... slim. For many of us, some blend of medievalism and basketball probably constitute the good life.

If that's how things go, then the rest of us can always move to Vermont. As long, that is, as they keep their borders open.


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