These days, Americans cannot agree on anything at all! Following the example of our political leaders — who are notable mostly for their dashing good looks and reptilian brains — we have become a body politic divided on all sorts of issues that really must be solved if we wish to keep our nation from becoming an irradiated wasteland ruled by cats. (Cats love radiation.)
If I had Republican friends, I’m sure we’d argue about all sorts of things. I’d say that we need a beefy progressive income tax; a social safety net that guarantees quality education, housing and health care for every citizen; a proactive economic policy that creates jobs in the public sector; equality for minorities and gays, emphatically enforced; and a sensible policy on climate change designed to head off catastrophe. My Republican friends would probably say that poor people can go screw themselves. And also something mean about Obama.
Is there a way to end this disheartening division and to find peace in our collective civic existence? I think so. I think we can follow the example of certain sensible Americans who live life how it should be. These ideal citizens live in the sort of communities to which we should all aspire. Communities where cooperation is the norm and kindness the very spice of life. Where the mayor and mailman break bread. Where you can sit on your stoop on a soft summer afternoon and know everyone in town. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the sleepy little burg of Monowi, Nebraska.
Located on a delightfully quaint patch of blank, featureless prairie, Monowi is home to a vibrant little population of one. Indeed, if you were to tell me that you live in Monowi, I would tell you that you’re a dirty liar because only one person lives in Monowi, and her name is Elsie Eiler. Ms. Eiler, it seems, has discovered the secret to efficient government, civic consensus and community spirit: live alone in your own town!
Monowi seems to have hit a bit of a rough patch after its “Booming ’30s” when it had nearly 150 residents. Apparently some of the young people were seduced by the easy luxury and profligate morals of the big city and fled to that den of iniquity, Omaha. Yet 80 years and 149 citizens later, Monowi carries on, albeit somewhat diminished. But where most people would find a soul-crushingly bleak panorama of boarded-up homes and a desolate sea of plains, Ms. Eiler saw an opportunity!
She is the mayor, having won the office in a landslide. Each year she dutifully pays her taxes — no complaining, Elsie! — and issues herself a liquor license, so that she may throw her notoriously gaudy all-night affairs to which she invites literally every citizen. And so it is that Monowi is a fine American town where strife is nearly unknown and the mechanisms of government run smoothly and agreeably. Imagine Ms. Eiler’s pride as she strolls along one of Monowi’s five or six roads and examines one of its four working stoplights!
Could life be any more ideal in Monowi, metropolis-of-the-plains? Should this not be the blissful arrangement we all seek? Laugh if you will, but isn’t this the very purest distillation of the ill-defined and long-sought American Dream? To have your own town, where you are truly ruler of all you survey? With a population density of 83 people per square mile, the United States could easily be divided into 300 million equally-sized plots of .012 square miles each. This arrangement has already been adopted by intrepid residents in the comely little towns of Bonanza, Utah; Green’s Grant, New Hampshire; and the especially homey-sounding Township 157-30, Minnesota.
You might convincingly argue that this would solve approximately none of the major problems facing our nation — in fact, you might add, it would be entirely counterproductive and would only serve to deepen existing divisions. Well, you insufferable know-it-all, I say if I can’t agree with you, why the hell should I be forced to live near you? My plan has the virtue of allowing us to avoid each other completely until the problems we face solve themselves. And at that point, friends, we may come together again as one people, proud subjects of our new masters: the radiation cats.