Monday, August 14, 2017

Dissolving The Union: The Yankee States of America

In February I suggested that it was time to have a conversation about amicably dissolving the United States into smaller, independent nations: Is It Time To Once Again Dissolve The Political Bands That Connect Us?. Since then it has become more painfully clear to me that we are on the way to a massive divorce, one way or the other.

It is one thing to suggest a dissolving of the union but it is quite another to work out how this would happen in a practical sense. It can be so daunting as to discourage us from thinking about it so I tried to imagine just one partial scenario, an independent nation formed from the northeast that ironically looks a little like the Union in the Civil War. I call it the Yankee States of America....

The Yankee States Of America
This is the easiest area to carve out based on political affiliation. The northeast, specifically the large metro areas, are the most homogeneous liberal areas in the country.

The New England states went 100% for Hillary Clinton, as did New York, Delaware and Maryland/Virgina thanks to the huge populations centered around D.C.. There are a lot of people in this region.

Four of the ten largest U.S. metropolitan areas are included in this new nation....

New York: 20 million people

The D.C. area: 6 million

Philadelphia: 6 million

Boston: 4.7 million

Those four metro areas alone make up around 10% of the total population of the U.S. and when you add in the smaller cities like Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh it grows larger yet.

Some of my thought processes behind this.

At first I had a vision of the Greek city-states as the model for the overwhelmingly homogeneous liberal urban centers on the East Coast. The New York metropolitan statistical area with over 20,000,000 people in 6,700 square miles (less than 1/5 of 1% of the total area of the U.S.) and has more people than any states except California, Texas and Florida. The D.C. and Philadelphia MSAs have more people than than over 30 states do individually. So why not four independent city-states like ancient Athens and Sparta? Or perhaps one continuous of exclusively urban areas that basically follow I-95 from Boston down the coast through NYC and Philadelphia and ends in D.C?

I considered that. There are a lot of red counties in the states that would make up the YSA. I also considered that the people in New York City probably have little interest in managing huge rural areas in New York, Pennsylvania and Maine. My reason for going with the larger landmass you see above is that even in our interconnected world I think it is important to hold natural resources. Pennsylvania has coal. New York and Pennsylvania have a lot of farm ground. More importantly this map gives the large coastal cities access to America's most unheralded natural resource, the critically valuable freshwater reserves of the Great Lakes via Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The lack of access to freshwater is the most glaring problem for a California exit from the Union. Too many people, not enough water.

With technology and financial services being major employers in the YSA they would have a very robust and self-sufficient economy. They already have a solid infrastructure in place via highway, multiple massive airports and rail-lines.  Add in access to the Great Lakes, a long Atlantic coastline, borders with whatever the United States became in this scenario as well as Canada and you have all the makings of solid independent nation.

Obviously this is a very clumsy and simplistic sketch but it is the sort of lines of thinking that gets us from sitting on a powder keg to finding some sort of peaceable divorce. There are so many issues to resolve that it boggle the mind: what about people who don't want to live in the new nation, trade and mutual defense agreements, what sort of government would it have and where would it be located, everything. The British exit from the European Union is causing all sorts of headaches and this would dwarf Brexit in comparison. It would take years to formulate and years to enact but perhaps seeing the start of the process might provide a means to ease the tension via a light at the end of the tunnel.

A final thought for now in the form of a quote from JFK that I ran across today...

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

President John F. Kennedy, 1962
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