For the sake of the republic, it is time to say, "So long Texas; welcome England."
The government shutdown and the game of chicken over the debt ceiling demonstrated just how dysfunctional the American political system has become. Congress cannot even pass a budget, let alone deal with climate change, Medicare reform, a jobless economy or the looming national debt. And the situation will not improve because there are so many safe, one-party-dominant congressional districts where deluded voters keep electing the sort of Republicans who think political compromise is a far greater sin than hiring call girls or keeping an Argentine mistress. (Remember David Vitter and Mark Sanford?)
These safe-for-screwballs districts must be eliminated and, if accomplishing that through redistricting is impossible, then more creative means must be employed. Since so many of the districts are in Southern states, we could tell, say, South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama we changed our minds about the old secession thing and they are now free to leave. That could do the trick, but it would also undo all of Abraham Lincoln's hard work. Who knows? They might bring back slavery.
A better idea is to take advantage of a historical anomaly. I'm talking about Texas, the state whose senator, Ted Cruz, ran the charge to close down the government and whose entire Republican congressional delegation voted against the bill to re-start government functions and forestall a calamitous credit default. Texas was once an independent country. It wouldn't set such a bad precedent to let them be independent again (even if native Hawaiians start shouting, "Us, too!").
Cruz could get his wish to be president of a whole country (something that will never happen if Texas remains a state), the balance of power in Congress would shift and we might see a bill or two get passed for the first time in years.
Of course, it would be a shame to lose a star from the flag. The easiest remedy for that would be to finally make Puerto Rico a state. Economically speaking, though, Puerto Rico for Texas is not such a great swap. It would be far better to reach back pre-1776 and renew a historic connection: We once belonged to England; now they can belong to us.
I do mean England, not the entire United Kingdom. Scotland is already taking a Highland fling toward independence. Northern Ireland can finally become part of the Irish Republic (what could possibly go wrong with that?). Wales... well, maybe Wales can be a territory, like Puerto Rico.
England is the perfect replacement state. London is a financial powerhouse far beyond even the loudest boasts of Houston and Dallas. English and American cultures are more intertwined than ever. We listen to the same music, watch the same TV shows and 80 percent of English actors already live in Los Angeles.
The best part is English conservatives. They are nothing like tea party Republicans. They're all educated at Oxford and Cambridge, not Oral Roberts University. They all think universal health care is a sensible idea, not a pact with Lenin and Marx. And they hate being part of the European Union -- so much so that they'd be eager to tell the French and Germans to get lost and then join the USA. Besides, the English conservatives' greatest hero, Winston Churchill, was half American.
Imagine trading Ted Cruz for David Cameron. There is no part of this deal that does not sound like a plus for our political system.
Texas liberals might not be quite so thrilled. Still, if they are patient, Latino voters will become the majority in Texas in just a few years. When that happens, they can throw out the crazy conservatives and, if they so choose, rejoin the union. Heck, just for fun, we'll put stars on the flag for Wales and Puerto Rico, too.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go to latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.