There is a fabulous piece of writing at New Republic. I would love to post it all here, but alas, fair use and all that. It is long, but written so well, with so many nuggets. Well done, Kevin Baker! I include a few snippets. (H/T Alan Duval for this)
Dear Red-State Trump Voter,
Let’s face it, guys: We’re done.
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. We have funded massive infrastructure projects in your rural counties, subsidized your schools and your power plants and your nursing homes, sent you entire industries, and simultaneously absorbed the most destitute, unskilled, and oppressed portions of your populations, white and black alike.
All of which, it turns out, only left you more bitter, white, and alt-right than ever.
Some folks here in self-supporting America like to believe that there must be a way to bring you back to your senses and to restore rational government, if not liberal ideals, sometime in the foreseeable future. Everyone seems to have an answer for how to do this. Every day another earnest little homily finds its way to me over my internet transom: “Think locally, act globally,” or “Make art and fight the power,” or the old Joe Hill standby—“Don’t mourn. Organize.”
To which I say: Don’t organize. Pack.
Not literally, of course. Not even the good people of Canada should have to stomach a mass migration of moping American liberals mumbling, “Live locally … make art.” What I mean is that it’s time for blue states and cities to effectively abandon the American national enterprise, as it is currently constituted. Call it the New Federalism. Or Virtual Secession. Or Conscious Uncoupling—though that’s already been used. Or maybe Bluexit.
Truth is, you red states just haven’t been pulling your weight. Not for, well, forever. Red states are nearly twice as dependent on the federal government as blue states. Of the twelve states that received the least federal aid in return for each tax dollar they contribute to the U.S. Treasury, ten of them voted for Hillary Clinton—and the other two were Michigan and Wisconsin, your newest recruits. By the same count, 20 of the 26 states most dependent on federal aid went to Trump.
Take Mississippi (please!), famous for being 49th or 50th in just about everything that matters. When it comes to sucking at the federal teat, the Magnolia State is the undisputed champ. More than 40 percent of Mississippi’s state revenue comes from federal funding; one-third of its GDP comes from federal spending; for every dollar it pays out in federal taxes, it takes in $4.70 in federal aid; one in five residents are on food stamps—all national highs. 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—something your Trump-loving congressmen will discover if and when they fulfill their vow to gut the program.
Trump’s characterization of “American carnage” in our urban centers aside, cities now generate the vast majority of America’s wealth—the cities, that is, where blue folks live. It’s true that Hillary Clinton carried just 487 counties in 2016. It’s also true that those 487 counties generate almost two-thirds of the nation’s economic activity.
More than a century ago, William Jennings Bryan—a real populist—assured angry rural citizens that if we burned down our cities, they would spring up again as if by magic, fueled by the prosperity and providence of the nation’s farmers. Today, if we were to burn down our cities, the rest of the country would likely become a wholly owned province of the People’s Republic of China.
So here’s my modest proposal:
You go your way, we go ours.
We give up. You win. From now on, we’ll treat the animating ideal on which the United States was founded—out of many, one—as dead and buried. Federalism, true federalism, which you have vilified for the past century, is officially over, at least in spirit. You want to organize the nation around your cherished principle of states’ rights—the idea that pretty much everything except the U.S. military and paper currency and the national anthem should be decided at the local level? Fine. We won’t formally secede, in the Civil War sense of the word. We’ll still be a part of the United States, at least on paper. But we’ll turn our back on the federal government in every way we can, just like you’ve been urging everyone to do for years, 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.
In short, we’ll take our arrogant, cosmopolitan, liberal-elite football—wait, make that soccer ball—and go home.
So: What are we in Blue America going to do about it? What would it mean to remove ourselves as far as possible from the federal government?
For starters, we now endorse cutting the federal income tax to the bone—maybe even doing the full Wesley Snipes and abolishing it altogether. 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.
Still think FEMA is some kind of liberal welfare scam? Poof—it’s gone! We will never again beg the people you elected to office to help us in the wake of what should have been considered national tragedies, such as September 11 and Hurricane Sandy. Meanwhile, best of luck with all those tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, and—all new!—Oklahoma fracking-earthquakes you always seem to be having.
What’s the matter with Kansas? Who cares! This is the good thing about a divorce—the chance to get all of your crazy, deadbeat in-laws out of the house. How can we save Detroit? Hey, she’s your baby now. Didn’t you say something about the private sector, or maybe casinos, or that mortgage loans guy who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers? I’m sure that’ll work out just fine for you.
With all the extra money we’ll have, we can set up our own Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid systems once Paul Ryan manages to “privatize” them for you Trump Staters. And what city is all that privatized money likely to come to, on its way to the markets? Oh, right, New York, which you hate so much! All those extra Wall Street bonuses and dividends will really help the local economy.
What’s more, as a quick glance at the electoral map will tell you, almost all of blue-state America is now concentrated in three contiguous clusters: the East Coast from Maine down through Virginia; the West Coast, along with Nevada and Hawaii; and the Rocky Mountain zone of Colorado and New Mexico. Disastrous as this allocation is when it comes to winning our country’s fatally antiquated Electoral College (is there another republic in the world, or indeed the history of the world, where a party has won a national election by nearly three million votes and still lost everything?), it’s perfect for developing highly efficient, cutting-edge regional networks in everything from transportation to clean energy to health care.
Under the New Federalism, you won’t have to engage in political convolutions to try and reconcile your conservative ideology with your extortionate demands for yet another federal handout. Take Amtrak’s “Acela corridor,” which your commentators like to deride as the route along which we elitist liberals all supposedly live. Fact is, the Northeast Corridor is the only part of our national train system that makes an operating profit. But every year, your Trump State congressmen threaten to pull the plug on Amtrak unless it continues to guarantee daily, money-losing service to all the little towns out on the prairie, in empty, SUV-loving red states like Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas. Then you go right back to fulminating about how much Amtrak costs. This is the legislative equivalent of Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles holding himself hostage at gunpoint to fend off a lynch mob.
Go ahead, end your federal Amtrak subsidies. In their place, we will build fantastic, new high-speed rail systems of our own. They’ll run past our state-of-the-art wind farms, fiber-optic networks, and highways that recharge our self-driving cars as we travel. We also don’t want you to bother us about money to repair your Trump State airports since, as you always claim, we will just be flying over them anyway.
There are still a few kinks to work out, of course. What to do, for instance, about the likes of Illinois and Minnesota, blue states adrift in a red sea? Or all those individual “blue cities” trapped in red states, like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, or Cleveland and Columbus? We’ll need to reach cooperative agreements with them to exchange goods and services as needed. They will become stops on our new information superhighways, or on our superfast rail networks, or self-driving highways. Our cool new trains and cars will glide past you all the faster, now that we don’t have to stop in between. Be sure to wave!
A much weightier problem will be ridding ourselves of the Trump States within, our own rural counties full of angry right-wing voters, convinced that their money goes to support welfare queens in the cities even as their last, visible means of support crumble away. Considering how susceptible they are to fake news, one strategy might be to recruit those Russian hackers to create shiny new web sites extolling how wonderful things are in, say, West Virginia, or rural Arkansas. Perhaps, in a historic reversal, it’s time for a mass migration from urban North to rural South, of Trump voters flocking to Red America in search of a better life for themselves and their families.
Whether you stay or go, we’ll be reaching out around the globe to recruit the most talented, intelligent, and ambitious individuals we can find to come to our America. Actually, we already do this, thanks to institutions from Silicon Valley to the University of Chicago, MIT to Wall Street, Hollywood to Broadway. Oh, and be forewarned: We will also be coming for your best and brightest in Red America, offering them free rides at many of the finest universities and research centers in the world. But don’t worry: You’ll still dominate college football!
It is a tragedy that so much of the work that so many men and women toiled at for so long to make this a better country, and a better world, has been thrown away, leaving us all in such needless peril. To fall to this place, with this hollow man assuming the leadership of the world’s greatest republic, may be in itself a refutation of the greater liberal hope that sustained human progress is possible and will prevail. But all that remains for us is to regroup, to salvage what we might, and to begin again where we can.
This is why our separation in all but name is necessary. 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.
A Blue State Patriot