Thursday, November 18, 2004


Did the South have the right idea?

Go Here or here or many other places on the web and you can read about blue-state sucession.

Here are the best points being raised about this:

1. Blue states pay into the federal government and red states are like "welfare recipients" in relation to that.

2. The results of the last two elections seem to be reversing the old positions of Democrats and Republicans. Democrats, who favored a strong central government, are beginning to see the advantage of a lose confederacy of states rights. While Republicans have largely given up on states rights and now see a Federal government as their best means of imposing their values on the rest of us.

3. These positions were reversed in the past because it was the Federal government who helped out the poorer "red" states, making these souther, poorer states the home of the Democratic party. Now, Democrats are beginning to wonder if they should give up the ideals of Federal entitlements, which go more to the "red" states whose values they deplore.

4. Finally, many have pointed out that this disparity is really much more a cultural disparity of urban versus non/urban than state versus state.

Here's my take:

This is definitely a culture war. Who started the war, liberals or right-wingers? My feeling is that this war has been strategically fueled by the Bush Administration, which benefits by dividing America and driving wedges. Right-wingers have picked up on this animus and lefties are starting to feel as tarred and feathered as homos.

I don't see anything that would reduce this trend. The trend helps solidy Republican hold on power. It also energies the opposition and helps to solidify lefty straight people behind the values (such as gay rights and abortion rights) that the righties want to legislate away.

So, while cesession is a nice pipe-dream of the left, I do think the dream contains and portents a powerful counter-reaction that we could see over the next few years as a result of the culture wars. The Bush Administration and Republicans have been largely throwing away states rights and federalism as they cement their hold on power. Just read Andrew Sullivan's blog to see "old school" Republicans bemoaning this fact. Interestingly, I think that you might now see Democrats drift in the logically opposite course, and begin embracing states rights. With that, you might also see Democrats, who already have a better handle on economic issues, also start to be the ones dismantling the Federal Entitlement state. If we so disagree with foreign and domestic policy, why not start handing more of this back to the states?

Of course, states are never going to fund a national military, but why not make military recruitement an issue more decided at the state level? Why not give state block grants based on population and let states manage entitlemenst like Social Security and medical care?

Republicans will fight this tooth and nail, of course, and with their majority hold, Federalism is likely to be reduced, not increased. But over the next few years, state versus government rights will be coming to a head, as the Federal government tries to strip states of things it doesn't like: medical marijuana, gay rights, stem cell research. This will provoke even further reaction from voters in California, New England, Illinois, who will vote for more and more local liberal values, and shift their fights from the federal level to the state level (pausing to fight on the Federal level whenever a state right is being threatened to be taken away).

If Republicans win again in 2008 with a social conservative agenda, if states lose several key rights to federal amendments (federally overturning gay marriage in Massechusettes, say, or arresting stem cell researchers in California), you can bet then that secession talk will turn from wistful to serious.

Then the question becomes, can our coastal cities really extract themselves from the rule of the Federal government? It will be an interesting development to watch. With so much animosity coming from the right, they might just as well be happy to see the cities go. And we'd be happy to get these country bumpkins off our airwaves and out of the papers, and we can set up an underground railroad for gay kids in Oklahoma to escape when they turn 18. If there were some serious leaders who could rally the blue frustrations in the cities, you could see real riots and demonstrations. For instance - what about a mass gay wedding demonstration in New York in which New York officials refused to recognize the new Federal Amendment? What about Californians defying orders to arrest stem cell researchers? Now that we have all been demonized by the right, there would definitely be back-up from all walks of blue America.

Red America would still control the military and there would, of course, have to be military put-downs and civilian casualties. I think that Federal America would certainly retain control - sucession just isn't a real possibility. But this would energize the movement further. It would be, in fact, a real civil war. Not over sucession, but over resources and access. After all, if the military moved into San Francisco to round up scientists and homos, do you think San Franciscans would after that say, "okay, goodbye?" I think the resulting chaos in all of the major urban centers - which after all contribute the money to the Federal government - would not result in cesession, but in governmental collapse. The red debt would be too great. The blue cities would convince Asian governments to pull their funds. The dollar would plunge to nothing. The government would be bankrupt.

No more money to support the Red military, feed the red poor, or build red highways. Of course, a national depression would hurt cities as well as the country.

But with a depression and Federal collapse, the blue cities would finally have the opportunity to retake or remake the country. Areas like New Jersey, California, New England would still be economically viable. Here is the key: with a collapse of the Federal government, the blue states WOULD have the opportunity to conduct their own foreign policy and stake out their own trade with the rest of the civilized world.

And after years of abuse from the reds, they would probably think that this time, leave those red-neck states behind. We would create "Chapter 11 America" - the post-bankrupt America, where this time, city-states like New England and West Coastline would re-emerge, create a new tax code that leaves the money and resources with them, and be able to write their own, new constitution.

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