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
First of all, we didn’t fight for it, some guys in white wigs and funny pants did, and that was 230 years ago. Remember, too, their forebears once thought that the Magna Carta was the be all and end all; but the drive for freedom didn’t stop there, why should it stop now? Look at Europe: In the past couple of hundred years it’s gone through often bloody upheavals of nation building, unification, de-unification, and now it’s unifying again. I’m sure they thought they had it right every step of the way, but instead they keep changing with changing times.
But in case you’re really prone to sentimentality, here’s the first article of the California state Constitution:
All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Secessionhas also been assailed as impractical — something that’s just too hard to do, as if the San Fernando Valley didn’t come within a hair’s breadth of seceding from the rest of Los Angeles just a couple of years ago for many of the same reasons secession would be logical for California: taxation without representation, local sovereignty, the difficulty many Valley residents had in figuring out what Los Angeles had to do with them or vice versa. These were practical reasons that had nothing to do with the city’s noble, if abstract, mission as stated in the charter’s preamble:
We the people of the City of Los Angeles, in order to establish a responsive, effective and accountable government through which all voices in our diverse society can be heard; to provide fair representation and distribution of government resources and a safe, harmonious environment based on principles of liberty and equality, do enact this Charter.
What I’m getting at is that just because you want to start fresh doesn’t mean you reject everything that came before, and seceding wouldn’t mean a sudden embrace of strange ideals. After all, our legal system is still based on English common law
. . . just because you can’t live at home anymore doesn’t mean you reject your parents.
But for all those who like to argue that America is a "grand experiment" and a shining beacon to the world that deserves our continuing participation, I’ll say, You’re right, so long as we overlook nearly 100 years of slavery following our nation’s birth, 100 more of apartheid following emancipation, the continuing stain of racism, bigotry, gross economic inequity, inner-city genocide, a dubious record as a global citizen that continues to subject the rest of the world to its insatiable appetite, etc. (As inconceivable as it may be to many Americans, a survey by The Economist, using such criteria as freedom, health, economy, political stability, security, equality and community, the good ol’ USA ranked 13th in the world, behind such irrelevant "Old World" countries like Ireland, Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden, Australia, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, Spain and others not easily spotted in the ranks of the "coalition of the willing.") Still, for all that, this has been a good experiment. America has a lot to be commended for. It showed much of the world it could get by without kings or dictators, and those marks against it are, unfortunately, largely the common histories of any prominent country. Even now, for a lot of people (nearly 60 million on record) this place is doing just fine.
But maybe we can do better. Maybe California can do better. Maybe it can be a better shining light of hope for the world (hell, even its Republican governor is a progressive by current standards). Maybe it could be an example to its new next-door neighbor, the U.S., if we free ourselves from a system that gives South Dakota as many senators as we have. Or if we are no longer subjected to a $58 billion net giveaway to the U.S. Treasury that helps prop up those rugged individualists in the subsidy states who seem to like living off government cheese but don’t like our ideas about gay rights, abortion, stem cells or even evolution, and are dangerously close to imposing their absurd ideas about all that upon us.
Confounded by the logic of seceding, a friend recently broke down and pleaded, "But I don’t want to give away Utah." I was surprised to learn she owned it. The people of Utah — who have their own ideas about life and are welcome to them, so long as they don’t force them on me — will be, too. Which brings me to my ultimate point: Why should we keep fighting to impose our ideas upon one another? And don’t try to tell me that’s not what this is about — from both sides. We have clearly entered the "with us or against us" stage in this country. How about we here in sovereign California decline either invitation and just be on our own?
It’s actually a very rugged, very American idea.
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