By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
|Illustration by Mr. Fish|
Countme among those who woke up on November 3 and thought: secession!
My turn toward the idea that California should secede from the Union was based on some bedrock logic that my father used to admonish me with as he suspiciously eyed my derelict teenage friends: You can tell a lot about a person by the company he keeps. That Wednesday morning, I looked at the sea of red in between the coasts and in the South, and I listened to the hypocritical crowing by misogynists and homophobes about values and strength and "the real America" and thought: If these were my friends, I’d try to get new ones.
Since then, when I’ve tried to have rational conversations about secession, I have heard the idea dismissed by those who would call themselves progressive or even radical as "middle-class parlor games" or "not even worth discussing" or, they say, very emotionally, "That’s just plain crazy." I’m a pretty conventional person and an unadventurous thinker myself, and still the radical notion of seceding seems logical, necessary and even inevitable to me. What I want to know, and have yet to hear anyone explain — based on reason and not emotion — is why not secede?
To the middle-class parlor-game argument, I say, since when have revolutionary changes not started out so? Only back in the day, they called them salons. These coffee klatches for the leisure class were considered so dangerous that salons were forced underground after the French Revolution. Fact is, revolution is the only trickle-down theory that works — most revolution comes from above or at least slightly above the middle. The landed and moneyed classes started the American Revolution, one of the world’s great secessionist movements. It was the furthest thing from a workers’ revolt. Vladimir Lenin was the highly educated son of a Russian aristocrat, Che Guevara was a medical student son of a doctor, etc. Unfortunately, the working classes are usually too busy surviving to start revolutions — though they are usually called upon to finish them.
I also keep hearing the plea that "We have to stay and fight." To which, I ask — fight what? The answer I get back is "the right-wing takeover" or "the Republicans" or "for America." But, you know, we had an election and "they" won — somewhat fair and square. And they’ve been winning. I was 4 when Nixon got elected. Think about this country’s leadership since then. Think about the values represented by that leadership. Except for the sad blip of Jimmy Carter, it’s been 36 years of reaction against the better angels of our nature — against Roosevelt, the Kennedys, Dr. King and even LBJ and his Great Society. If you were born in the ’70s, it’s a safe bet that whatever progressive victories you’ve seen in your lifetime were either powered by the last fumes of the ’60s or were local and not national. The only time a Democratic president has been elected since 1980, he was a closet Republican. The next time a Democrat gets elected, he’ll probably be the same. News flash, everybody: The "Republican takeover" is sadly what this country is now and has been for a while. So, are you suggesting taking back the country by force?
When I was arguing the merits of seceding recently, a friend finally said, "But, but, we live in America." I thought — we do? I live in California. I sometimes visit other places in America, but not that much anymore. Having lived all over this country and having been to every state but three, I know we’ve got it pretty good here. We’ve got great mountains and beaches, fruit and vegetables out the gazoo. We’ve got the fifth biggest economy in the world that is so highly diversified it’s almost recession-proof. We’ve got a public-education infrastructure that used to be the envy of the world. Maybe we can repair it with some of the nearly $60 billion we’re currently sending out in taxes and subsidies so the ignoramus "red" states can continue to lord over us in their fat, Jesus-loving state of bliss and denial.
Okay, that’s a slightly unfair generalization about the red states, and there’s always talk that we can’t leave behind the other 50 million of "us" who voted blue . Sure you can. I mean, I only really know a handful of those other 50 million — okay, maybe 50 — and frankly, they don’t care where I go, so long as I keep in touch and maybe visit every now and then. I don’t think seceding would mean we couldn’t do that. People visit further places than Ohio all the time. Plus, those blue brothers we’re so worried about leaving behind can feel free to come along.
I also keep hearing a sentiment-soaked refrain from anti-secession friends to explain their attachment to the idea of the United States that goes something like: But we fought for this great experiment called America . . . and I believe in it. I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It’s called the United States . . . of . . . America . . .
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