Mere Merger? 

What if, instead of committing itself to a needless vote-suppressing photo-ID law, the Tennessee General Assembly had followed through on implementing the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act of 2008, which called for outfitting the state's electoral machinery with paper-trail safeguards so as to ensure accurate totals?

What if the members of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners had made a conscientious effort to agree in a timely way on a redistricting plan that may not have perfectly fulfilled the specific wishes of all members (or of their political parties) but could have been lived with by all of them collectively?

What if the members and administrative staff of the Shelby County Election Commission had not sat on their hands, waiting over the space of endless months for the aforesaid county commissioners to agree on a reapportionment plan that wouldn't be needed until 2014? And what if the SCEC had focused instead on designing a precinct map in accordance with the redistricting plans of those legislative bodies that were actually having elections in 2012?

What if the Unified School Board of Shelby County had expedited the matter of selecting a school superintendent — especially since an acceptable one was at hand in a homegrown candidate, Shelby County Schools superintendent John Aitken, trusted by academic unifiers and secessionists alike?

What if suburban leaders had been willing to cool their jets for at least a year, during which school attendance zones were guaranteed to be frozen, and given the Transition Planning Commission's painstakingly prepared Multiple Achievement Paths model a chance to succeed countywide before hastening into votes for academic secession that amounted to cases of verdict first, trial later?

What if the suburbanites had given themselves a year to ponder not the rosy scenarios prepared by their self-interested consultants but studies of the actual overhead and expenses they might be facing, prepared by neutral and disinterested sources?

Finally, what if George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison et al. had stayed home, jealously tending to their own homesteads instead of answering the call of continental unity after the unsatisfying period of loose confederation that existed in the liberated American colonies during the six years that followed the successful war of independence from Britain? Or, more to the point, what if the attempt by 13 American states to secede from the Union had succeeded in 1861, imposing two distinctly separate entities on the North American shelf? True, there might have developed loose relationships of convenience, but it's hard to see so determined an urge to keep things separate resulting in anything except further hostile competition — continent-wide and maybe in the horrendous way of Europe prior to 1914.

All kinds of things might have taken place instead of the famous compact that emerged from the Constitutional Convention of 1789 in Philadelphia, memorialized forever in a document that begins with the all-inclusive words "We the People," which contains a blueprint for the sort of binding union that state senator Mark Norris of Collierville, had he been alive to see it, might have branded "mere merger."     

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