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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

If this were really a choice, I wouldn't waver FOR A SECOND.

Why is the U.S. one country? I know that we fought a huge war over that, and it was important back then and stuff. But I am not scared the British are going to invade us anymore. We don't need to be one country to exist as stable entities. There's some good stuff in the U.S. Constitution that I would like to keep, and parts of it and the California Constitution I don't love. Breaking away would be a good time to pick and choose a better constitution.

I am fiercely in love with my state, and feel almost no allegiance to the country as a whole. They aren't like us in those places, you know, the ones east of the Sierras. They're not like us or each other, from what I understand. Like, the Northeast is as different from the Midwest from the South as they are from us. So, besides the Civil War, what is the importance of the U.S. staying one country? I would be thrilled to be one of the states of Pacifica. I would be proud of being a country that was a world leader on environmental legislation. I wouldn't have to be ashamed to be part of a racist imperialist country any more. The different regions can go their own way! The South can rot practice its unique heritage as its own country and fly whatever flag they want, if they aren't embarrassing me by association. I would visit Mesa Country all the time.

Sadly, the California Secession movement does not appear to be ready for us.

47 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you've missed the point of federalism?

Of course, it seems like a lot of people in California are hell bent on throwing away any states' rights in the interest of forcing their agenda on the rest of the country.

Justin

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all about the gains from free trade.

2:57 PM  
Blogger bobvis said...

Maybe the reason it can't happen is that if it had a chance of happening, you could be hung for writing this post.

3:29 PM  
OpenID Dagon said...

I'm with you, except I don't love your (or my) state. I love my family and friends, like and respect everyone else to varying degrees, and don't feel much identity with any particular geographic or political boundary.

I'm curious why you feel shame for racist imperialist parts of a nation you happen to live in any more than you do for strangers closer to home (say, Mexico or Edwards AFB).

That said, I have no objection to secession of California, Northern California, Bay Area, Cascadia (NoCal to BC), or any other region you might pick. Once you start asking about cost/benefit, though, it's unclear that there's any reason to secede as opposed to staying inside a relatively rich and democratic nation, and just pushing for stronger local and individual rights.

4:17 PM  
Blogger KingM said...

How about this, Megan. You pick up your marbles and your Democratic votes and where does that leave those of us in places like Vermont? Right, screwed.

We're too small to be independent but for the kindness of our neighbors and if we stuck around in a rump US without Pacifica, we'd be even more saddled to the conservative part of the country.

Being a part of a nation isn't about pouting and storming off when you don't get what you want for a few years or election cycles.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous HC said...

Bobvis has it right. If it were really a choice, perhaps you wouldn't waver for a second when enlisting to fight in the Oakland Irregulars - but it would not be a painless transition whereby suddenly you no longer were associated by nationality with "those not like you". If prolonged at all, it would entail a tremendous amount of blood and misery. Perhaps that would be worth it to you, perhaps not - but that's what it would look like, if it were a real choice.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

I like it the way we are, as one big dysfunctional family. This way, states can check and balance each other without physically invading and killing each other like they have been doing in the Middle East, the Balkans, and plenty of other places...

6:59 PM  
Anonymous freight train said...

Maybe we could start small, by splitting northern California off into a separate state from southern?

8:12 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Now, see, I have no truck with dividing California.

But if the U.S. wanted to split into five or six countries, I would be DELIGHTED.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous mith said...

It's funny someone mentioned Vermont, since they've actually got an active secessionist movement going on in that state.

What I don't understand is why, when everyone mentions secession, they talk about it on a state-wide basis. Why can't we all just secede on an individual basis?

8:48 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm not talking about seceding on a state-by-state basis. The obvious regions are about the right size to make good countries. Pacifica, the desert southwest, the mountain middle, the Plains, the south and the northeast.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Sectionalism run amok!

Justin, I think it might be much more accurate to say:

"it seems like a lot of people are hell bent on throwing away any states' rights in the interest of forcing their agenda on the rest of the country"

8:59 PM  
Blogger Paul Gowder said...

If we in California are leaving, we're taking the Northeast with us too. I like Boston, and New York is civilized.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous freight train said...

Wait a minute - no truck with dividing California? Come on - we could write a new state constitution with all kinds of awesome rights! We could keep our water, or make a killing selling it to LA! We could legalize it! Hell, we could maybe even repeal Prop 13 (though that probably would drive a lot of businesses south of the border...). We'd have all the cool cities and coastline and mountains! You really want to keep us tied to Orange County?

Is this some weird Sacramento thing? You haven't adjusted to the East Bay yet, have you?

9:13 PM  
Blogger rcs said...

Ernst Callenbach explored this scenario in Ecotopia. His post-secession California is focused on ecologically and socially sensitive governance via a mix of natural and technological solutions.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous mith said...

"The obvious regions are about the right size to make good countries."

Ok, but then why not start by seceding on an individual basis? If your neighbors want to get involved, you can build up a small community. I think city-states would work way better than breaking the country up by region.

Every time I see a discussion about secession, I wonder why those that disagree with the actions of the national government don't just write up a Declaration of Independence and send it off to their city, state, and national government leaders. I mean, aside from the whole thing about having to fight an army that doesn't really care one way or the other about your opinion on the state of the government.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I am from LA. I can't turn my back on my native city like that. One California!

I totally agree that Prop 13 would not survive the transition to independent nation. Nor Prop 218.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

Can we have a free trade agreement?

11:17 PM  
Anonymous justus said...

We don't need to be one country to exist as stable entities.

Yes you do. Why do you think you don't?

The California you know today would utterly cease to exist were it to become an independent nation.

California is able to focus on the issues you care so much about precisely because the federal government worries about other things.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recommend _America's Constitution_ by Akhil Reed Amar. He'll tell you exactly why it's necessary for California to remain part of the US.

Otherwise, we'd be thrilled to stick in California everyone who claims to be "enlightened" and "tolerant" yet looks down on everyone else, and wait with bated breath for the day when an earthquake finally knocks the entire state off into an island. As a long-time midwestern conservationist, I can't wait.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

Being part of the same country is how we keep the south from invading.

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Pete said...

Driving through a no-stoplight town in coastal NC a couple months ago, I spied a store advertising "Confederate and American Bikinis".

Since then I've spied their wares at a local wannabe cowboy bar.

6:10 AM  
Anonymous Thelonious_Nick said...

As late as 1946, Pakistani discussions for a separate state from India were fairly genteel, I believe. But at a a certain point, events on the ground spun out of control rapidly.

Why do you think even a well-intentioned break-up of the US would go so much better? Do you have in mind something like the Velvet Divorce in 1993 between the Czech Republic and Slovakia? But both those countries expected to be (and were) absorbed into the EU within a decade or so.

I'd also like to point out that probably not every Californian would want to secede. Why wouldn't the US Government intervene to protect the legitimate interests of those CA citizens?

I would say the chances that this could be pulled off without violence to be very low.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Marcus said...

How about voting for Ron Paul and getting some actual real live federalism in the U.S.? States are way too centrally controlled from DC, DC preempts way too much of the tax base as well as the national borrowing ability, etc. Large states are especially screwed because of the undemocratic Senate.

A lot of what one might desire from secession could be achieved by true federalism. Only our messed up foreign policy would continue to be a problem. But Paul is against that too!

7:45 AM  
Blogger Cyrus said...

I'm not talking about seceding on a state-by-state basis. The obvious regions are about the right size to make good countries. Pacifica, the desert southwest, the mountain middle, the Plains, the south and the northeast.

"About the right size to make good countries?" I'm not an expert, but I think size is not the most important factor in the success or welfare of a country.

Greater Plainsistan would export food, atheists and not a lot else. Pacifica would live like Western Europe with more Asian cuisine and better tans until the first major earthquake or wildfire, at which point they would live slightly better than Bangladesh because even a crappy federal response is better than none at all. By now, the New Confederate States of America probably has become rich and cosmopolitan enough that it would remain livable, but on the off-chance that it hasn't, it would be today's Iraq with nuclear weapons.

Northeastalia, though, just might come out the winner; after all, remember that our Republicans up here tend to be Rockefeller Republicans. Our tradition is Normal Rockwell paintings, not cowboys. We probably would be a net importer of food, but not by that much, and we have a ton of industry and commercial enterprise to make up for that. Our population density is pretty high so refugees might be a problem, but we still have a fair amount of space, and so does Pacifica and Canada. Hmmm, maybe the only problem with the Second Vermont Republic is that we aren't offering to take our neighbors with us.

But then again, maybe not, because our environment would go downhill quickly. Southern Northeastalia is New Jersey, and northern Northeastalia gets our weather from the Rust Belt, and I doubt they'd sign the Kyoto Accords. If the economy in Greater Plainsistan doesn't degenerate to Mad Max conditions fast enough to suit us, we might have to invade and occupy them in the name of self-preservation, and then the New CSA would feel threatened, and...

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Thelonious_Nick said...

I've been thinking about this topic all morning. But I'm not sure even your premise is true: that the various US regions are so different that it doesn't make sense to group them all in one country.

You might have a case with Hawaii, which is also the only state that I think could secede with only minimal problems resulting for either side.

When people from foreign countries come here, they don't notice how different California is from Alabama, or Massachusetts from Wyoming. They perceive the US as one massive but remarkably undifferentiated country, with a common language, customs, and lifestyle.

There are a number of countries in the world with far greater cleavages than the US (Belgium, China, Indonesia, Nigeria) that seem to hold together.

8:35 AM  
Blogger JRoth said...

It's sort of an interesting idea that you think CA is so kick-ass that it should be its own country (somehow coexisting with the states to your north that hate CA, but set that aside...). And yet:

I totally agree that Prop 13 would not survive the transition to independent nation. Nor Prop 218.

Um, the Bad USA didn't force those on you. The racists in the south, Bible-thumpers in the middle, and cold-tolerators (worst of the lot) in the northeast don't have laws like those. Your fellow sunshine-and-lollipops Pacificans thought those laws were good ideas.

I think my fellow commenters who are fixating on the practical reasons secession won't happen are being spoil-sports - this is a thought experiment, not a manifesto - but I think that what you need to realize is that, in any polity with a population over 1, you're going to have people who do things you don't like and who don't like the things you do. You may like your surroundings more than you would, say, Alabama, but your surroundings include an awful lot of people who thought Conan would make a great governor. Good luck with President Arnold.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a point of comparison, in 2000 Bush got 42% of the vote in California to Gore's 54%. Those numbers were flipped, 57-42 in Alabama. There is a lot of internal dissent in all of the US state (political and otherwise). To think of California as a monolithic bloc apart from the other state is a very vast generalization. A nation of any size will have regional peculiarities and preferences.

Why (apart from the vague "they're not like us") do feel so strongly about California but not the US as a whole?

Having lived in the northeast, mid-atlantic, mid-west, and alaska, I think the similarities are much more dominant than the distinctions, and I'm very proud of being a part of the United States, and not just a particular state (though do still have some hometown state pride!).

I guess I'm most intrigued by why you feel no allegiance to the nation as a whole. I don't question your fierce allegiance to California, I just think you can have both.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous ari said...

Megan, have you read Garraeau's _Nine Nation's of North America_? You'd like it.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous ari said...

Sorry, there's an extra letter in there. The right spelling is Garreau.

9:32 AM  
Blogger W said...

The War of the Californias.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Magpie said...

I wouldn't have to be ashamed to be part of a racist imperialist country any more.

Wait wait wait, what? What was not racist or imperialist about the Mission era? Or California nearly becoming
a slave state
? Or the nonexistent white resistance to Japanese internment in World War II? Or the deep race and class divides in Oakland in 2008?

I'm as proud to be a Californian as you are, but.. no.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

_Nine Nations of North America_ - requested from the library.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're really busy right now so we'd appreciate it if you hold off on this kind of talk until we can staff up appropriately to meet this new extra need.

The Fence Makers of America


p.s. Please explain to me REALLY slowly how you plan to secede AND make us honor those water compacts...

10:06 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

California doesn't need outside water if we aren't feeding the rest of the country.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous SwissArmyD said...

simple is as simple does, M. At it's present size, California can't exist by itself... It gets far too many services [like water, for ex.] from other places. Places that would literally STOP selling those things to Cali. if it were a separate country. Like electricity?
Besides, how's Cali. going to export food w/o water to grow it? What's the economy going to do without the exports?

Think about all the things that you would suddenly have to put in place as their own country. Like an army. Do you think Mexico will just leave you alone? YOu would have to have treaties, and governments, and borders that could be closed, not just a sign that says welcome to Cali.

There are a lot of things you take for granted that are subsidized by the rest of the country. There are also many things that occur in Cali. that benefit the rest of the country. Like the Port of Long Beach. We like you a lot, we wouldn't let you go easily.

So what existential angst caused you to throw this one out? Since a good chunk of my friends are Californians, I'd like to think I can get along with them... so why don't you like us anymore?

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much money a year does feeding the rest of the country bring into California?

And, how will a state, already in a budget crisis, run without that extra tax revenue?

Justin

11:17 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

California doesn't need outside water if we aren't feeding the rest of the country.

By "feeding the rest of the country" you mean "selling food to non-Californians. There's no reason to think that this would change if we seceded.

Are you going to kick the USN and USMC out of San Diego? Are you going to kick the USAF out of Vandenberg and Mojave? Do you care that LLNL shuts down because the rest of the US doesn't want its nuclear weapons designed in another country? Do you care when Lockheed lays off tens of thousands of people in Sunnyvale because the US decides it doesn't want its spy satellites to be built in another country? Do you care if Stanford and Berkeley suddenly lose their federal R&D money?

1:26 PM  
Blogger jens said...

> There are a number of countries in
> the world with far greater
> cleavages than the US

Or there WOULD be if Megan seceded from the US. Haven't had a chance to see for myself, but reportedly her cleavage is one of the greatest!

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Ennis said...

Spoken like somebody who doesn't watch professional sports.

5:08 PM  
Blogger imogenesis said...

I'm curious why you feel shame for racist imperialist parts of a nation you happen to live in any more than you do for strangers closer to home (say, Mexico or Edwards AFB).

dagon - this may in part be because American racists and imperialists reflect badly on the country as a whole, and on all its citizens. Mexican racism or imperialism doesn't have the same effect on how the rest of the world views Americans.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous doctorpat said...

There are a number of countries in the world with far greater cleavages than the US (Belgium, China, Indonesia, Nigeria) that seem to hold together.

Umm...
China has independence movements (Dali Lama ring a bell?) that are supressed with violence. The Taiwan movement is a possible source of WWIII.
Indonesia has several violent independence movements, the last piece to actually break away was East Timor in 1999. Australia had to invade to stop that war.
Nigeria has had long term rebellions for years, with death tolls in the hundreds of thousands.

I don't know about Belgium, but I expect them to start killing eachother as soon as they stop worrying about the French.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Excellent, small-minded parochial chauvanism isn't restricted to religions anymore.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous freight train said...

Dang - never have I seen a pleasant whimsy so brutally beaten to a pulp. Next time you publish a light thought experiment, better make sure it's solid enough to hold up as a policy paper.

12:56 PM  
Blogger X. Trapnel said...

Yay for secession!

1:43 PM  
Anonymous mith said...

"I think that what you need to realize is that, in any polity with a population over 1, you're going to have people who do things you don't like and who don't like the things you do."

Which is why I asked about secession on an individual basis. You decide whether or not you want to incorporate your land and resources into the local community, with the understanding that doing so makes you responsible for following the laws of that community.

"Places that would literally STOP selling those things to Cali. if it were a separate country. Like electricity?"

The northeastern US gets quite a bit of electricity (and many other resources, for that matter) from Canada.

Just because there's a border doesn't mean there can't be trade.

8:02 PM  
Anonymous meg said...

I've been thinking about this a LOT this week, because I don't know where my little part of the country would splinter off and attach itself to. The southern part of Virginia is very strongly "South", but where I am is so very not. Nor is it close to "Northeast". And if you ask someone from Maine and someone from Philadelphia if they belong in the same country, they'd laugh.

The East would be a tough sell, I think.

5:53 PM  

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