Separatist and secessionist talk has burgeoned in 21st-century America. The day after the 2004 presidential election, sulky liberals began circulating a map that represented pro-Kerry regions of the country as part of the “United States of Canada” and pro-Bush regions as “Jesusland.”
Grouchy conservatives weren’t sure they belonged in a nation that elected and re-elected Barack Obama. Now comes left-leaning novelist and journalist Kevin Baker to argue, given Republican control of the White House and Congress, that “it’s time for blue states and cities to effectively abandon the American national enterprise, as it is currently constituted.”
“For more than 80 years now, we -- the residents of what some people like to call Blue America, but which I prefer to think of as the United States of We Pay Our Own Damn Way -- have shelled out far more in federal tax monies than we took in,” wrote Baker in a Thursday piece for The New Republic. “All of which, it turns out, only left you more bitter, white, and alt-right than ever…You people -- your phrase, not mine -- liked to bash Obama for turning America into what you derisively referred to as ‘Food Stamp Nation.’ In reality, it’s more like Food Stamp Red America.”
Baker clarified that blue states “won’t formally secede, in the Civil War sense of the word…But we’ll turn our back on the federal government in every way we can…and devote our hard-earned resources to building up our own cities and states. We’ll turn Blue America into a world-class incubator for progressive programs and policies, a laboratory for a guaranteed income and a high-speed public rail system and free public universities. We’ll focus on getting our own house in order, while yours falls into disrepair and ruin.”
Call it a new birth of federalism (bolding added):
We now endorse cutting the federal income tax to the bone…We will raise our state and local taxes accordingly to pay for anything we might need or want. We ask nothing more from you and your federal government. Nothing for infrastructure, or housing, or the care of the poor and sick -- not that you gave us much, anyway. All we want is our money, and you can keep yours, dollar for dollar.
No more Obamacare? Hey, that hot mess was tricked out the way it was mostly to appease you in the first place. Since we have nearly all of the country’s leading hospitals, medical schools, and medical research institutes -- and a much healthier population, one that’s happily short on automatic weapons -- I’m sure we’ll come up with something better.
Go ahead, keep on voting against your own economic interests to satisfy your need to control other people’s bodies, sex lives, and recreational habits. We’ll be creating cities and states that will defend gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose, and sensible gun control against your intrusive federal judiciary.
The article is presented in the form of a letter from “A Blue State Patriot” to a “Red-State Trump Voter.” Baker conceded that “most of our country, at least as measured by physical terrain, has adopted your worldview” (which includes “your incessant self-pity and sense of injury on behalf of white people, and white people only”) but expressed confidence that Blue America will bring Red America around by showing it what a good society looks like:
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There is only one way that we can counter all of your fantasies about what this man you have elected is, and what he -- or the assorted moneyed interests, ideological fanatics, and foreign dictators he so fecklessly shields -- will do for you. Since those of you in the Trump States will not listen to us, or to anything that smacks of rationality, we will have to create new facts on the ground -- “alternative facts,” as you folks have taken to saying. Since you will not hear our words, we will need to convince you by our actions. We will need to run our states and our cities so well, in such an effective and enlightened manner, that we can make you understand all over again what every page of our history should already tell you. Through our own example, we must win you over, American by American, town by town, state by state, until we are once more in a position to mitigate all of the foolish, cruel, and wasteful things you are about to inflict on the rest of us, and to move forward once again, as American states united.