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What would happen if the "blue states" seceded?
November 5, 2004 6:26 AM   Subscribe

I was looking at a spoof map showing the 'United States of Canada' and 'Jesusland'. In it, the 'blue' states were now part of Canada, and the 'red' states were what's left of the US. With the increasing divide between the two sides, what would happen if those 'blue' states seceded somehow. Don't they represent most of the economic prosperity in this country? And what does that fact say about the this country?

(I know this is not possible, but it is interesting to look at the relationship between economics and political leaning.)
posted by eas98 to Society & Culture (27 answers total)
 
Well, it's true that 32 states receive more federal funding than the state's citizens pay in to the feds in taxes. 75% of these are states voted for Bush in 2004 and 2000. (red). The states that pay in more than they receive are predominantly blue states. The point is even more strongly made this year with NH switching into the blue column.

However, the country really is purple, when you look at it from a better perspective. The urban / rural divide (along with indian reservantions out west) is really the red / blue divide.
posted by zpousman at 7:04 AM on November 5, 2004


The old-economy rust-belt states like Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania have shrinking economies and populations. The economies and populations of sun-belt states like Georgia, Florida, and Texas are growing. Indeed, one of the reasons this election wasn't as close as the last one is because several southern states increased their worth in electoral votes while several northern states are worth fewer electoral votes. Save for the Pacific states, the trends are exactly opposite what you propose, in terms of blue vs. red economies.

You are right that SES does generally correlate to political leanings, but again generally in the opposite direction you propose. The more wealthy you are, the more likely you are to vote for a conservative (lower taxes, free trade) agenda.

Also, states should not secede simply because an election didn't go their way. This a) is cowardice and b) has been tried before to the tune of 600,000 dead. You should perhaps remember that the map you are looking at is a joke.
posted by ChasFile at 7:09 AM on November 5, 2004


Very good article on the subject.

Also, states should not secede simply because an election didn't go their way. This a) is cowardice and b) has been tried before to the tune of 600,000 dead. You should perhaps remember that the map you are looking at is a joke.

It could be done through legislation instead of a war. This isn't 1860. There are enough people flying Confederate flags to suggest that both sides have some interest in it.

It's also probable that a secession issue would not be so highly emotionally charged this time around. It's very unlikely, given the sanctions that would likely happen from every single other industrialized nation, that the new Jesusland would put black people back into chains. The causes of the Civil War are complex, but slavery was really the tinderbox and it's not an issue now. Secession can happen without a war.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:16 AM on November 5, 2004


ChasFile: that's an interesting claim you've made regarding the growth/demise of various state economies. I could only find state economic information through 2001, and it didn't seem to support your hypothesis at all.

Where can I find recent (through 2003) information on gross state products (and other financial indicators), and overall tax collection/payout distributions?
posted by mosch at 7:24 AM on November 5, 2004


A more telling "red vs. blue" map is this one, which gives a county-by county breakdown in shades of purple. Interestingly, I think it correlates fairly well with population density, as also pictured there. Areas which are blue or blue-violet seem to follow the regions of highest population density. Areas which are Red or red-violet seem to fall in areas of lower population density. You will notice, though, some very blue areas in the Southwest which are somewhat sparsely populated. Likewise, there are some fairly red areas in the midwest which are more densely populated.

On preview, I disagree immensely that secession is cowardice. There is no sense trying to impose one's will (socially progressive policies) on a populace that doesn't want it. Further, I'm not an anarchist or hardcore libertarian, but I do think that the US federal government is fundamentally broken at this point. The two-party system with its false dichotomies in every election cycle, corporate and special-interest money controlling campaigns, the massive bureaucracy... it would take many generations to fix. But secession would mean starting anew -- more power to the states, simply by default, since the new nation would have a weak (or nonexistent) federal government. I'd almost like to see that, even in the face of the short-term chaos it would cause. (And I do think that it could be done peacefully.)
posted by uncleozzy at 7:29 AM on November 5, 2004


a) is cowardice and b) has been tried before to the tune of 600,000 dead.

It doesn't sound like cowardice if 600,000 people died trying it last time. In fact, in those terms it's more cowardly not to.
posted by biffa at 7:39 AM on November 5, 2004


It's also probable that a secession issue would not be so highly emotionally charged this time around.

I don't know about that. I'm stuck in the middle of a blazingly red state (Indiana,) and I would rather slit my throat than be forced to live in "Jesusland" just because I can't afford to move to the Canadian United Provinces, and I can't possibly be the only one. I would rather my *entire damned country* adhere to the concepts set forth in the Constitution than break apart to make two countries.
posted by headspace at 7:55 AM on November 5, 2004


I don't think there's enough grain in Canada to satisfy the needs of Bluedonia, so you are going to have to import a lot from Jesusland, and they are going to be sitting in the fabled catbird seat this time, rather than begging for subsidy checks.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:58 AM on November 5, 2004


There is no escape. We will fight to the death!
Two countries enter, one country leave!
Two countries enter, one country leave!

Honestly, if there was a movement for secession, I don't think either side would try to stop the other from leaving.
posted by 4easypayments at 8:00 AM on November 5, 2004


I would rather my *entire damned country* adhere to the concepts set forth in the Constitution than break apart to make two countries.

Let me know how that goes.

I don't think there's enough grain in Canada to satisfy the needs of Bluedonia, so you are going to have to import a lot from Jesusland, and they are going to be sitting in the fabled catbird seat this time, rather than begging for subsidy checks.

There could be, and in a hurry, if there was demand for it. Besides, we have arable land sitting fallow because people in Jesusland are already getting paid not to grow anything.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:16 AM on November 5, 2004


If nothing else for the first couple years you could eat beef instead. We have a huge surplus right now. And the more cows we eat the more grain is left for people.
posted by Mitheral at 8:28 AM on November 5, 2004


I don't think there's enough grain in Canada to satisfy the needs of Bluedonia

Maybe not, but remember that California would be thrown into that mix. Right now Californians aren't eating that much grain to begin with due to icky carbohydrate levels. Plus, CA turns out the crops like a mofo; we're just more salad-oriented at the moment. Also, much of the grain produced by the US is artificially inflated in quantity from agricultural subsidies. In Douglas Coupland's Souvenir of Canada book, there's a satellite photo of the US/Canada border where the actual border line is clearly delineated by fields of crops butting up against natural growth. Granted, the US has a much larger population to handle, but we also use our grain for things such as fuel, feed, and sugar (high-fructose corn syrup), so it's not like we're sitting down here eating corn-on-the-cob sandwiches for every meal or something.
posted by LionIndex at 8:46 AM on November 5, 2004


ChasFile, you're right about population, but not about economy. The Southern and Midwestern states, who voted Republican, are really the ones who suck the most at the teat of Mamma Government. The majority of federal revenue is still generated in the Northeast and West Coast, who vote Blue.

So, to answer your questions:

With the increasing divide between the two sides, what would happen if those 'blue' states seceded somehow[?]

Lots of money, abortions, and pagan rituals in the Blue. Bankruptcy in the Red after about a month, but they'll be too proud to admit it.

And what does that fact say about the this country?

A lot, and it's all too depressing to write.
posted by mkultra at 8:56 AM on November 5, 2004


wikipedia discusses Cascadia.
posted by mwhybark at 9:11 AM on November 5, 2004


We have a perpetually discontented province, Quebec, and the idea of separation alternately rises and slumbers. There will not be a civil war. The issues are almost entirely economic - how will Quebec do on its own? How will the rest of Canada do without it? What share of the national debt should be settled on them? What federal assets/institutions would they get to keep?

In the early nineties referendum on separation, Quebec narrowly decided to stay, and the separatist political leaders must have fallen on their knees with gratitude. No one would want to lead an entire province through a painful restructuring that only half its population wanted.

Canada would take a considerable economic hit, but not as much as Quebec will. I think they won't actually be leaving unless something happens that really pisses them off.

This definitely isn't the 1860's. No blood will be shed. People will get hurt by any secessions or separations, but it will be an economic and psychic pain.
posted by orange swan at 9:12 AM on November 5, 2004


If there is any country breaking-up to do, I propose that Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, and California will become one country.

We'll have it all: oil, seafood, fruit, wine, grain, beef, veggies, trees, high-tech, and pot. I don't see how we could fail to have one of the world's richest nations. And being all West-coast people, we'll be a laid-back, socially-progressive country.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:01 AM on November 5, 2004


Don't we have a federal system that's supposed to account for these kind of divides?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:23 AM on November 5, 2004


Ha! You've included Alberta for the grain and oil, I presume, while ignoring the fact that they're definitely not blue state material.

(I'm trying really hard to ignore the fact that up here, the colours are reversed, and Libs are red and Tories are Blue.)
posted by jacquilynne at 11:46 AM on November 5, 2004


...remember that California would be thrown into that mix...CA turns out the crops like a mofo..."

The majority of that crop production is concentrated in the Central Valley, aka Jesusland West. They have no intention of seceding, but would no doubt be willing to consider trade talks with the neighbors on the coast. For a suitable markup.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:06 PM on November 5, 2004


I include Alberta because I think they can be saved from themselves. And because I like Alberta beef. Also, we need a conservative province to balance out the Westcoast flakes.

It's not that the colours are reversed: it's that the Libs and the Tories both are strongly tilted to the right, economically and, in many ways, socially.

Anyway, back to reality: check out the vote map for California and while you see big blue LA, there is a TON of red just outside LA. Quite consistently, the rural areas vote conservatively.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:42 PM on November 5, 2004


Alberta conservatism is generally to the left of American conservatism. Somewhat to the right of the democrats, but not that far. Sure we have our fundamentalists like Stockwell Day, but that's not really a big segment.

Just as an example, a couple of people from my work, solid social conservatives who voted Alliance in the last federal election, think Bush is an utter trainwreck.*

It'll be interesting to see what effect the US election will have on Canadian righties. Will it drive them left or right?

* Full disclosure: I live in the most liberal city in Alberta.
posted by alex_reno at 3:01 PM on November 5, 2004


Nakedcodemonkey is right about the farm territory here in CA, I doubt they'd be willing to leave just based on the radio stations. We might get a thin coastal wedge up to Oregon but, again, run into problems there too since Oregon after all was one of the 11 states to pass an anti-gay measure Tuesday. And the issues surrounding Quebec's near secession are even more significant to us--how many of America's nukes are in Canada 2.0/Cascadia? I'm thinking fairly close to zero except what might be in ships based in SD or Washington.
posted by billsaysthis at 3:30 PM on November 5, 2004


It's perhaps worth noting that the academic literature suggests that California (or any other state) can afford to be a leader in environmental policy because it is in an economic position to engage in significant amounts of export trade. Restrictions on such trade (should they emerge) would impact on environmental policy.
posted by biffa at 4:17 PM on November 5, 2004


billsaysthis, I can concur with your thoughts on the Central Valley, the AM radio is positively hateful. Has anyone had the misfortune to listen to Michael Savage? Bleh, he thinks hate should be a family value.
posted by fenriq at 5:01 PM on November 5, 2004


If you live in an urban center you have to -gasp- learn to live with your non-white neighbors. That breeds tolerance. You are surrounded by immigrants and you realize they aren't the evil carciatures your pastor warned you about. You'll meet a gay couple or two. They will end up being normal people, not angry hedonists trying to have sex with anything that moves. There might be more media choices. A diverse population is naturally liberal, thus the dems can make easy inroads.

Not to mention that immigrants and minorities value education a lot more than the average, thus the importance of finishing school and getting a good job. Indians, Asians, Russians, Pakistanis, etc tend to be pretty damn good students and they know they are on their own because mom and dad rent and the extended family is back in the old country.

There is usually some kind of art community, as art schools and galleries make use of urban/downtown real estate for attention. There are many religions and non-religious people, not a monoculture of fundies or evangelicals.

Commerce does well in highly packed downtown areas as theres a shared corporate culture. Public universities are in the middle of nowhere but many private and especially graduate schools (law, medicine, etc) are in urban areas.

In other words, these urban areas are a big dose of reality. Its human nature working together to keep things working. They produce good people and strong economies. The alternative are rural, or smaller urban centers which are monoculture, all-white, etc which produce bigots and poor economies.

In other words without the cities, there's nothing. That's generally true all over the world.

Worse is that American urban planning makes use of outlying suburban systems which sometimes hold more people than urban centers. These tend to be monoculture communities. If you look at the population desity vs vote linked earlier you'll see a lot of red in many suburbs.

Its the classic integration argument and how isolation leads to some pretty nasty things, like voting republican.
posted by skallas at 7:31 PM on November 5, 2004


I never get to these questions while they are current...

You folks talking crops forget that you'll have Illinois, Minnestota, Wisconsin and Michigan in this proposed new blue nation. They have the most fertile land in the (present) country. Plenty of corn and meat. Had the split come in 2000 you would have had us in Iowa too (Hey, I did my part...).
posted by guidedbychris at 11:07 PM on November 5, 2004


OK, you'd have Michigan as an agricultural state in your blue-state-land, but not really. Even more than the country is divided, the people in West Michigan and Northern Michigan have always been hoping to reroute the Detroit River so that Detroit ends up in Ontario.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:42 AM on November 7, 2004


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