Let’s Make Citizenship Digital; or, Hooray for the Divided Nation!

Everyone these days is seemingly obsessed with our divided nation. Some still hold out hope for a transformational figure who will unite Americans once again behind a common national identity, but most of us know what an impossibility this is. Just look at the debate surrounding the current tax atrocity that has nothing at all unifying the two sides of the political spectrum. Modern politics had produced a winner-take-all approach that entails not continuity of the system but, rather, the impulse to undo everything accomplished by your predecessor from the other party. It’s not a system that guarantees progress forward–instead, it’s a ping-pong game, the ball going back and forth as each party takes control. It’s a political and cultural divide that many observers lament. However, I think now is the perfect time to embrace the divide–even to expand it completely. If we are truly two nations, it’s time we start acting like it.

After all, we are at a point in our development when technology gives us more options for constructing the value of our citizenship as tailored to individual wants and needs. In the past, it was necessary that the levers of government act in a uniform manner with regard to all citizens, but with today’s communications and computer technology, that is no longer the case. In short, we can, within an acceptable range of alternatives, fashion forms of citizenship for each individual or group of individuals.

To envision this, let’s break it first along party lines. As the only two major parties we have here in the United States are Democrats and Republicans, we’ll use those. The latter wants lower taxes for the wealthy, no social safety net, and the outlawing of abortion and contraception. The former desires pretty much the opposite. At present, it’s hard to find any common ground between these two visions of humanity’s best interests, but why should we? We now have the capability for each party to pursue its own best ends.

For example, we can give each citizen the ability to choose a party affiliation, and that affiliation will be represented on an official ID, entered into a federal database, and determine that individual’s rights and responsibilities. Someone who identifies as Democrat will be taxed at a higher rate but will pay less for medical treatment at the local hospital, while a Republican will be taxed much lower but allowed to pay for his own medical treatment. Registered Republicans will also be forbidden access to abortions and may have ten percent of their salary deducted as a tithe, depending upon the decisions of their party congress. A Democrat may go to a social welfare office for help seeking employment or social services, while Republicans can go to their own tax-free churches and related ministries for much the same.

Parties won’t be in the business of proposing legislation for the entire country–only for their own party members. (Don’t worry, militia members–gun control only applies to Democrats!) Granted, some people may eventually change their political views or simply grow sick of the direction of their particular parties, and so conversion will be allowed, perhaps with a year’s transitional period of study and reflection. And we will need some overarching, bipartisan laws, of course, against murder and the like. But this system, I believe, could genuinely work, giving us a sense of citizenship, via a greater sense of shared values, much deeper than the connections Americans now feel with each other.

Hell, let’s be blunt–Americans hate each other right now. If you watch interviews with supporters of Donald Trump (piss be upon him), you’ll see people justifying his treasonous collusion with Russia, because they hate their fellow Americans more than they hate a committed enemy of the United States. But with a system of digital citizenship, such people need no longer worry that their tax money is going to support depraved artists at the National Endowment of the Arts–the Republican Endowment for the Arts only produces Ten Commandments monuments. Likewise could people on the other side confidently send their children to a public school, knowing that not the slightest whiff of creationism is being taught there. Hell, we could even have different monetary systems. They can keep “In God We Trust,” while we get to put Mother Jones on the quarter.

A house divided against itself cannot stand, but two houses–no problem there.