Tag: 2020 Election

On Secession, Part 2

Friends have been discussing a Cosmo article that views secession talk from the perspective of a liberal Southerner. I, for about a decade, was a liberal Southern. A vegetarian in a barbecue capital. I can’t say the article changed my mind. It seems to presume there’s a *good* solution. The existence of a good solution is often over-simplification or an idealization of the situation. I laud the people in Texas protecting others who simply want to use their rights. I feel awful for the people who live in a state that doesn’t care about the environment, loathes redistribution of wealth, think we’re wasting our money educating citizens. If the options were “everybody stop doing that” or “keep doing it but some states secede”, I would be on board with ending the secession talk. But that’s not reality. As it stands, the whole country suffers because of a minority’s opinion about what’s right and wrong. The choices are “stick together and keep doing it” and “split up; some of us, based on where we live, can stop doing it”.

It’s easy enough to say “step one is to reorganize yourselves based on political beliefs”. Doesn’t work well in practice. There aren’t a lot of people who can just move. They need to find a job, a place to live, pay to have their stuff moved (or buy new stuff). They may need to find childcare. Or a medical specialist. There are minors who don’t gt a choice in where they live regardless of their personal beliefs.
The only reason I see to stop talking about secession is that I don’t see it as logistically possible. I remember being intrigued by Lesotho — it’s a country completely surrounded by South Africa. How exactly does a country end up in the middle of a whole other country?! I knew the history behind the Vatican City State … kind of accepted that as normal because (1) I’d encountered it at an early enough age that I didn’t really question it (2) you could literally walk from Italy into Vatican City — no customs, no passports — so it didn’t seem like a different country, and (3) it’s so small {and this is before “online” was a place to see maps, thus ‘zoom’ didn’t exist} that you only saw it if you were looking at a street map of Rome. Lesotho? It’s large enough to see on a map of Africa. Secession seems like it would produce a *lot* of Lesotho’s — Memphis, Austin, Asheville, New Orleans. I want to focus on a viable solution to eliminate the oversized influence low population-density states have in the Federal government. Undo the gerrymandering that exacerbates this over-representation.

On Secession

I’ve seen talk of secession since SCOTUS reused to hear Texas v Pennsylvania et al. I’ve also heard liberals wish them a fond fairwell. Unlike the Civil War era were the nascent industrialized North had financial need for the agricultural production of the South … it’s a different financial picture today. Unfortunately, the net balance of payments to/from the federal government gets cited as a depiction of this economic reality. Deficit spending means *most* states get back more than they pay in — there were less than a dozen states with a negative balance of payment, and the federal outlay in Virginia alone exceeded the total excess intake from those states. But, yeah, I expect many liberal states would be economically viable. As would many conservative states. Liberal states that aren’t economically viable should be OK too — accepting redistribution of wealth is a tenant of liberalism. It’s the poorer conservative states that have a problem.
Of course the secessionists haven’t thought it through; they are throwing a tantrum. As a thought experiment, though, I tried to think through the creation of Trumptopia. I cannot conceptualize a fully functioning, unified nation. A common enemy is a great way to unite people. Get rid of that common enemy (so-called socialists), and I expect they’ll discover a lot of disagreement. More prosperous states won’t want to subsidize poorer states (a resentment I remember from German unification — glad to have the country reunited, but the economic hit for former West Germans really sucked). And, generalization aside, there are urban, liberal outposts like Memphis, Austin, etc. that won’t be keen on getting dragged along with the rest of the state. Unless secessionists are looking to go the route of Greek city-states, which brings its own set of challenges.
Even if Trumptopia managed to form somewhere, I expect Republicans have a libertarian/bear problem … letting industry self-regulate sounds good while we have a lot of federal regulation because we’re free to imagine industries as honest, pretend there’s enough competition for consumer choice to force acceptable behavior, and assume consumers are sufficiently well informed in their choices. Same with individual freedom — we’re making an a priori assumption that everyone else’s decision will line up with our rationalizations (see: above bears).

What’s Next – Prediction

My prediction for Trump’s next heap of crazy (or an episode of The Trump Show that runs in my head): Trump gets some foreign state – I’m thinking Erdoğan from Turkey – to admit to perpetrating massive vote fraud. Mailing millions of ballots to some states. Hacking electronic voting platforms. All of the above. Tries to invalidate the entire election on the basis of this “totally reliable” evidence. 

The Problem with Facts

The problem with concrete evidence (say, a list of voters whose ballots you claim are illegal) is that someone can check it:
“When Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen (D) reviewed a list of voters who President Trump’s campaign claimed cast illegal ballots in the state, three names caught her eye: two friends and a constituent. “

Texas v. Pennsylvania

Democracy isn’t letting people vote then invalidating the ones you don’t like, but here we are — Texas v. Pennsylvania and its accompanying amicus briefs. Republicans are the party of states rights — unless the state does something they don’t like. But, I suppose, disqualifying the votes of people who don’t vote the way you want is the logical extension of the “real American” mantra touted by Palin. And the tea party’s “no taxation without representation” … uhh, we all voted. You have representation. “Well, they don’t represent me” logic. Having lived through many years of minority rule, I get their point. Philosophically George W Bush didn’t represent me. Trump sure as hell doesn’t represent me. But — however much we may philosophically differ, they did represent me. Because that’s how American government works.

Could we use modern technology to have direct representation? Sure. Direct representation would eliminate gerrymandering and the oversized influence of low-population-density states. It would be rather inequitable — who has the time to read through every piece of proposed legislation, get online and vote their opinion, etc. But it could happen. Even then, though … 60% of the people vote for X, that’s what we get. And the 40% who voted not-X suck it up.

Short Story Outline

Movie/story idea — All of the crazy conspiracy theories Trump parrots are actually true. The deep state looking to undermine him. The conspiracy to steal the election, twice. The QAnon idea that Democrats are secret pedophiles or cannibals or whatever looking to take over the country and Trump has been ordained by God himself to save us. Except, unlike mainstream stories where good triumphs over evil … the bad guys win and the savior lives out his life in exile.

Bloomberg’s Millions

I wonder if the lesson from Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 election investments might be “dumping money into advertisements has limited benefit”. A hundred million dollars to fund groups driving people to polls. Or free public transport rides on election day. Or groups helping people navigate voter registration (possibly including fees and transportation to where-ever non-driver photo IDs are issued). Maybe those would have been more productive ways to blow a hundred mil.

Pre-Hatched Ideas

I’ve got two working story-lines to end the reality-TV-presidency. Trump steps down next week, Barr pushes through a bunch of cases against him and he’s found innocent (or guilty and Pence pardons him). Lacks pizazz. Also doesn’t sort the state charges — my memory is that SCOTUS has held there’s no double jeopardy because you’ve violated the federal law *and* the completely separate (even if it’s the same thing) state law.
The one I like better – Trump kicks off a I didn’t really lose tour / airing of grievances across the country, culminating in oversea visits to the troops. While visiting Incirlik, he defects and stays in Turkey. Plot twist — all of the QAnon folks follow him and shore up Erdoğan’s support in the 2023 election. But the same QAnon folks get Trump into the National Assembly, and he wins the 2028 general election to replace Erdoğan.