Welcome to America’s catharsis, brought to you by – unexpected events with unintended consequences. It hasn’t been a week since the election but several themes are progressing and are probably about to collide. Well, we asked for change. We got it. Now, let me see what I think it will do to my world. Your results will vary. Engage your sense of humor, because it may be the only thing that can smooth out this ride.
Without a doubt the most fun I’ve had has been the speculation about the US un-uniting. I’ve considered this for so long that it was one of the first boards I added to Pinterest (after uploading my own content from my books and photos.) Many have considering alternative Americas because history is a long list of regime changes. Cultures may survive for thousands of years, but power, people, and borders shift. The US has had 50 states for about as long as I’ve been on the planet, but that stagnation has been atypical for the country. Maybe we’re witnessing the same fracturing the USSR saw after its culture was revealed to be held together as a facade and defense during the Cold War.
Texas has proudly and frequently stated that it could secede. It was considered one of the most likely scenarios for decades. If they left, others were expected to follow, or at least consider the possibility. In Canada, Quebec was the likely candidate. In the UK it was Scotland. Surprise! Brexit happened, instead. Now, California has advocates planning a referendum for 2018. Oregon has begun a petition. Cascadia could happen. And my favorite, folks in Canada have seen the activity and invited the US West Coast to become Southwest Canada. Finally, a peaceful resolution to the Pig War. (A real thing. Look it up.)
Bah. It would never happen. It’s a stupid idea. But hey, better access to maple syrup for me, and Canada gets some nice, warm beaches. Besides, much of Hollywood is already working out of Vancouver.
Of course it would be hard. No surprise there. Many vocal people may say Yes!; but Washington, Oregon, and California all have large conservative populations. The vote wouldn’t be unanimous. The negotiations over military bases, national debt, shared infrastructure, and border control could take years.
It isn’t impossible. Similar situations have been resolved. Other nations have split. The US has massive experience negotiating and operating bases in other countries. There will always be disaffected people, but the reason this is being talked about is because there are disaffected people. No one knows where the majority sits. The simplest borders are to use the existing state borders; but browse the various maps on my Alternative Americas Pinterest board and see that there are many ways to draw new borders. Draw a border down the Pacific Crest Trail and the populations begin to become more homogenous.
The last time secession was tried in the US it turned into a war. It didn’t have to happen then. It doesn’t have to happen now. One of the most logical approaches is general. The US Constitution has rules for adding states, but not for removing them. As an organizational document, both options should be addressed regardless of current sentiment. Get the right wording. Get 38 states to agree to it. And, exercise one of the strengths of the Constitution, its recognition that it isn’t perfect and that Amendments will be necessary. Thirty states voted for Donald Trump. Get eight more on principle and there may be enough interest in asking certain states to leave.
One thing holding back some secessions globally has been economics. California’s would have the world’s sixth largest economy (Canada’s is eighth.) Each of the states is relatively prosperous. They also have diverse populations that may feel threatened, embrace more progressive politics generally (especially on the west side of the mountains), and have cultures that are more in common north to south than with the rest of the country east to west.
Is it likely to happen in four years? No. But, unless sentiment turns and people find more reason to trust and accept, the efforts will progress.
Mass migrations would happen.
Draw new borders and there’ll be mass migrations. That also happens every time countries divide.
This time it may already be happening, even without secessions.
Within days, immigration sites in Canada and New Zealand saw an explosion of traffic. Canada’s site was accessed so many times that it crashed repeatedly. New Zealand’s site had a 25-fold increase. I can understand it. I’ve visited both places and could see living in either. Evidently, I’m not the only one. I checked into both years ago. I’ve got the right education to get in more easily. Evidently they value aerospace engineers. Unfortunately, my age probably works against me. Immigration officials want younger demographics, not aging near retirees. For a while I almost had enough money to make the move, but Triple Whammies happen.
I had a small proud moment when I predicted something before hearing about it. Other countries are taking this opportunity to encourage talent to leave the United States. Feel threatened? Accept their invitation. I suspect multi-national corporations may accommodate such moves. If they have existing offices, expand them. If the work is mostly on computers, it can move anywhere there’s good enough infrastructure. Donald Trump may initiate job losses without passing any legislation.
Some think the threats are exaggerated. Maybe they are. Maybe the episodes of violence that have been witnessed are temporary. Maybe those other bits of legislation won’t be passed. Maybe people should stay and change the system from within. People applied that logic to Germany in the mid-1930s. The Jews that left were the ones who were safest. I don’t blame anyone for moving. I’m a white guy and I feel threatened. The policies and ideologies expressed don’t fit my world view, and I don’t fit into theirs.
Maybe things won’t change. (There are a lot of ‘maybe’s, but that’s the nature of the situation.) Government has been dysfunctional. There’s plenty of agreement about that. It is one source of Trump’s appeal, as was true for Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Greg Johnson, and Jill Stein. Now that one party controls the White House, the Congress, and probably the Supreme Court, maybe they’ll begin governing again. Unfortunately, even the people in Trump’s party didn’t like Trump, and Trump didn’t treat them well. The collection for his cabinet is certainly change; but it seems to me that most of them are known for being bold voices, not for cooperating or being productive.
The Democratic party isn’t necessarily working well either. They bet on a strategy that would’ve gained them control of the White House, possibly the Congress, and eventually the Supreme Court. That was a good reason to let senators remain as senators and run a well-known name for president. It almost worked, and may yet. Believe it or not.
The party ain’t over until the Electoral College elects someone. By all the conventional rules, regulations, and habits, Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the United States. That’s the likely outcome. have you noticed that conventionality is not acting conventionally lately? I’m sure someone has worked out the probabilities; but, depending on the state, some electors are not required to vote according to the popular vote. Considering how upset people are, how many electors could decide to boldly go where few electors have gone before, risking career, reputation, and legal fees by shifting their votes? I don’t know, but weirder things have been happening.
Being realistic, there’s a 2.35% probability of death for Americans who are 70 years old. An actuarial table says so. It also says, that a 70 year old American has a life expectancy of 16.43 more years. How healthy is Donald Trump? Oh yes, marvelous, the healthiest, everyone should want to be so healthy. He will have the best health care available, so that 2.35% may actually be much lower. If Donald Trump wasn’t President, for whatever reason, we could end up with President Pence.
Impeachments happen; but I don’t expect one. Governing is difficult. Look at how it ages every President. Governing without having governed before means learning on the job and probably making mistakes. Even if the mistakes are impeachable, a Republican Congress is less likely to impeach a Republican President.
Check your own life. If your daily routine is still the same, tomorrow’s routine is unlikely to change. I can write hundreds of words and spend lots of time thinking about the implications, but my daily duties haven’t changed. (Though reading Twitter feeds for funding opportunities has a lot more commentary than before.)
There will be changes within the next four years. Climate change will continue, and one of the strongest influences is less likely to try to fight and defend against it. Already, cities and states are exercising more regional authority by reinforcing an appreciation of safety and diversity in some cases, and fundamentalist values in others. The British bookies (who failed like so many predictors) are already taking bets on the 2020 election. Every political party is probably trying to understand what happened and what to do next. Good luck guessing at the political environment in 2018 when exploratory committees are launched, and 2019 when campaigning begins. Check the number of states before planning.
My Personal Finances
I’m betting on:
- a dysfunctional government, at least for the first year or two;
- possibly saving a few hundred dollars a month if the Affordable Care Act is rescinded, which ironically means I may be paying less for health insurance but being able to afford health care;
- preparing to do without marijuana, unless Whidbey Island is inside new borders;
- updating my passport, mostly because it was due anyway;
- spending lots of time listening and reading to other people instead of politicians (something the news media forgot to do);
- expecting to say “see you later” to folks who migrate, at least temporarily;
- and rummaging around for my sense of humor because it may be the most powerful and reliable tool available.
Oh yes; and my apologies to the rest of the world. We do what we can, but the United States is almost exactly divided fifty-fifty politically, probably by the design of the parties. I congratulate all of you on not having an electoral college as part of your political process. I hope we learn your lesson.