Rob sent me a link to these letters from red-state Democrats chastizing any talk of "blue-state secession." I started to write an e-mail back, but it got longer and longer, so I decide to just go ahead and throw it up here instead:
The letters are definitely interesting, but still a little dissatisfying. I'd like to see more tactical arguments about where to go next with the country. Part of the appeal of "secession" for me—esp. the idea of pursuing any sort of economic civil war, e.g., boycotting Wyoming beef to buy from Oregon, or even Argentina—is that it addresses the bigger problem: America has become too big, too diverse, and too powerful. Sure, we're a greater potential source for good to the rest of the world, but we're also a greater potential source for evil, thanks to our winner-takes-all system. I'd like to see a tiny federal government, strong enough to protect us but incapable of military adventurism, and a weak Supreme Court (it hasn't always had the god-like authority it seems to wield now). I'd love to see cities and counties and states become the most powerful and relevant government institutions in people's lives. In that respect, I'm definitely a conservative. Or a libertarian. Or a Democrat? I don't know what they're calling that nowadays.
I guess I'm fundamentally questioning the idea from the letters that we're "all in this together." I'm not being a latte-drinking snob. I'm saying I don't want to slowly lose what I have, too, over my lifetime. I should move to Iowa or Florida to preserve my vision of America? How arrogant (not to mention unrealistic) is that? A lot of people in Iowa and Florida don't share my vision of America. What am I, a missionary? I love my state and city and neighborhood. I think you can just as easily make the argument that progressives from red states should move to blue states, to cement our hold on what we have. It's far from complete—just look at Arnold in CA and the lingering threat of a Dino Rossi governorship here. Dino Rossi! So we can teach creationism in Seattle schools!
Bush is elected, and that's done. But I think (I hope) Republicans in the future will return to the ideals of smaller government, no deficits, and little or no involvement in people's personal rights and lives. When they do, I'll have no problem voting Republican nationally and voting for Democrats closer to home, to preserve the things I care about--progressive taxation, protecting God's earth, the right to choice, and the right to a good education and medical care. If Tennessee wants to outlaw abortion, science, and women kissing each other, then have at it.
The most persuasive argument in the red-state letters to me is the plea for a "life preserver." I don't want to punish states, I just want a better system, and I'm sad that people could be hurt in a more drastic process of realignment like I'm talking about. But I'm made to feel a little bit better when I hear the language of the victorious party, both officials and chattering supporters, essentially (and sometimes literally) telling me that "we won, so fuck off." Okay: That's what I'd like to do. Fuck off. So let's all fuck off, already.
And I think the short list of fucking-off is this:
1. Publicize the hell out of the fact that red states are predominantly deadbeat states (they take back far more from the federal government than they pay in).
2. Stop giving our money to those states in commerce, at least as individuals but maybe even as businesses and (some day) cities and states. (Remember when progressive cities stopped making purchases from Burma?)
3. Vote for and work for and donate to federal candidates—including Republicans—that will shrink the federal government and bring federal taxes down to something like a flat 5%.
4. Vote for and work for and donate to state and local candidates who will preserve the liberal, progressive legacy of our own communities and replace any lost federal dollars with local taxes. Which would be even cheaper, once we stopped sending our "extra" tax dollars to Arkansas and South Dakota!