Friday, June 11, 2021
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Two-State Solution: Missouri and Missourah

The House of Representatives passed a bill this month that would establish Washington, D.C., as the fifty-first state. 

The addition of a new state presents at least one superficial problem: The U.S. flag would lack symmetry with 51 state-representing stars. We can’t just jam a star in, that ends in frightfully-absurd flag aesthetics. Suggest the idea to a graphic designer. They’ll glitch out as if an update of Adobe InDesign only allowed use of the papyrus font. Nightmarish. 

It’s obvious that our venerated flag will require re-balance if DC is granted statehood. Changing the number of states presents an opportunity: there are two Carolinas, two Virginias and two Dakotas. 

It’s high-time we also have two Missouris. More precisely, a Missouri and a Missourah.  

Spend any amount of time in the Show-Me-State and it becomes clear that Missouri v Missourah (meh-ZURAH) isn’t merely a pronunciation preference. A cultural fault line is hidden within the speech pattern. As a state, Missouri allowed legal slavery but joined the Union during the Civil War. I’d bet dollars to donuts that Union loyalists pronounced the state name Mah-Zer-REE. 

There is a two-state solution. Divide the territory formerly known as Missouri from east to west roughly following the Missouri River and I-70 from Kansas City to St. Louis. Give or take a few miles on either side; the I-70 or river corridor will now be the state of New Missouri.  

New Missouri would bear a quirky rectangle-shape, but there’s no need to feel self-conscious. We aren’t squares like Wyoming or Colorado. If we consider gerrymandered districts, New Missouri’s seemingly arbitrary shape is hardly remarkable. 

The remainder of the state formerly known as Missouri can become the new state of Zura. Mike Parsons, Josh Hawley and Eric Greitens types can have lifetime government appointments if they’d like. Go ahead Zura, commission a bronze statue of Rush Limbaugh in Cape Girardeau. Make it larger than the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. Your state is your oyster.  

A small problem with this plan is Zura has a northern and southern section separated by New Missouri. One of two work-arounds solves this issue.  

One, Zura remains two swaths of land to the north and south of New Missouri. This happens sometimes. Michigan is two chunks of land divided by a body of water. Importantly Zura, just like Michigan, is one state.  

Two, Missouri trades away the northern strip of the state to Kansas in exchange for New Missouri extending to Lawrence. The liberal capital of Kansas has more in common with Kansas City and St. Louis than the rest of their state. Zura is self contained. Kansas gets some more land for wheat and wind farms. New Missouri arises as a midwestern progressive utopia. Everyone wins. Plus the University of Missouri – Lawrence has a lovely ring to it.  

Imagine how nice it would be to not have a state line running through Kansas City. Gone are the days of explaining KCK and KCMO to out-of-towners. No more inconsistent laws, Johnson county residents can buy real beer at gas stations. No more living in Prairie Village, working in Waldo and then paying income taxes in two states.  

This fiction is all fun and good, but the truth within is that Zura is holding back New Missouri. 

New Missouri – progressive real-life Missouri – is doing big things. Kansas City is decriminalizing cannabis. St. Louis has elected fresh representative faces. We are housing the homeless and are on the forefront of a technological revolution. New Missouri has diversity, art, music, historic sites and high culture. 

Zura didn’t want to take the pandemic seriously. Zura doesn’t want to expand Medicaid, thereby denying healthcare to it’s neediest citizens. Zura wants to demonize Planned Parenthood and limit a woman’s right to choose. Zura disrespects the will of the people. Missouri voted to raise the minimum wage, get rid of puppy mills, health care expansion, and to end partisan redistricting. Zura said no to all of that.  

We need Zura to get on board with New Missouri. Missouri used to be a bellwether state, picking the presidential winner for decades. For years the political term for a 1% election victory was a Missouri landslide. Trump won the state of Missouri by 15% in 2020.  

The potential states of New Missouri and DC are unfortunately equally unlikely. Thanks to Joe Manchin and friends, DC statehood won’t pass through the Senate.  

To be clear, DC ought to be a state. The capital city is obliged to support the headquarters of the federal government, but it’s citizens aren’t represented in the Senate and have no governor. Those who live in Washington pay more in federal taxes than 22 existing states. Washington DC experiences literal taxation without representation. 

With Governor Parsons, Senators Blunt and Hawley, a progressive in Missouri can relate to the strife of not being represented by a governor or in the Senate. But at least we get to vote.  

On the bright-side, at least some poor soul doesn’t have to figure out how to squeeze one more star onto the flag. 

tjwggd@mail.umkc.edu

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