Published Friday, Jan. 4, 2008 in The Register-Guard.
Yesterday was a big day for you, marking 49 years of being USA’s 49th state. Today you begin your 50th year. Congratulations! Unfortunately, we’re going to have to let you go.
Our president, a man you’ve probably never met, is focused on his legacy. He’s having a “Betsy Ross moment.” He gave the nation “forever stamps” and collectible coins, but he wants to leave something more permanent than commemorative quarters. The stars on the flag caught his eye.
We’ve got to tighten our belt down here. If we make America smaller, we can also make it safer. Our leader wants to be remembered for making difficult choices. Downsizing fits the image. He promised to clean up the mess here and he’s going to do it.
You have to admit that the mapmakers never quite made the “inset” trick work. Hawaii will be getting the boot too, if that’s any comfort.
The United States for half a century has seemed a little less “united.” Frankly, we don’t know what Eisenhower was thinking. Maybe he assumed Canada was not long for this world. But nowadays the border has become a big deal, and you’re outside it. “The Lower 48” have decided they’re tired of being called “lower” anything.
You’re probably asking yourself what brought this on? Why now? We thought the whole drilling deal might make you worth the trouble, but the president’s advisors say conservationists are winning intercontinental shelf argument. Once the cabinet took the shelf off the table, the window closed and it was curtains. They don’t call it “kitchen table politics” for nothing.
But that wasn’t it. Honestly, it was that $250 million “bridge to nowhere.” Turns out, that could have been any bridge in Alaska. To us in the “lower 48,” every bridge in Alaska is a bridge to nowhere. And from nowhere, for that matter.
We have a plan that gets the number of states down to 40. The Big Guy likes those Biblical numbers. We think we found a loophole to undo the Louisiana Purchase. Saddling the French with our immigration problem was very attractive, but then we’d lose part of Texas. You don’t mess with Texas.
Instead, we’re pushing the Dakotas and Carolinas and Virginias to bury the hatchet, to get us down to 45. We’ve promised New England they can share the Patriots and New Hampshire’s early primary if they combine into a single state of New England. They already have their own stripes on the flag. Why do they need stars too?
That gets us to 40, but we’re expecting Cuba to come on the market any day now and Jeb wants it added, so we still have one more has to go. Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Massachusetts are technically not states, but “commonwealths.” But nobody here likes egghead law-degree answers. This is no Trivial Pursuit. Our guy insists on real solutions and clarity above all else. Those four will become states if they ever want another bridge built for them.
The time has come for the state of Washington to admit they’ve caused terrible confusion with their unoriginal name. They’d better come up with a better one, and quick. And not one of those hard-to-pronounce “authentic” names. This administration wants to leave the country easier to pronounce. No Sacagaweas need apply! If they don’t, they’ll be added to Oregon or sold to Canada. If that doesn’t get us down to our magic number of 40, we’re fairly certain we can make Delaware into a city and no one will notice.
Lots of folks here in (the only real) Washington are thinking about retirement, so we’ve come up with a plan that adds a bunch of waterfront property and cleans up some other name confusions. Mexico gets New Mexico, and in return we get all of Baja California. That’s what you call prime real estate! We’re going to leave this country better than we found it.
As America’s first ex-state, you’re sure to do well. Russia is looking for opportunities to expand, so Putin may snap you up. If not, you’re always welcome back as a territory. The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will tell you it’s the best of both worlds.
We may even continue to build some bridges for you. But you can scrap plans for that commemorative quarter.
The Literally United States of America
Don Kahle (firstname.lastname@example.org) for ten years published the Comic News from Eugene. He now maintains a blog, where readers can review and comment on past and future columns, right here. He’s never been to Alaska.