Secession, or Why This New Yorker Won’t Be Joining the Enlightened States of America

Shortly after the November presidential election, I was sent an e-mail on the assumption that given my zip code and presumed party affiliation I would celebrate its content and join the victory stomp.

Seeing how peeved I was instead, perhaps it was a good thing that the matter coincided with the start of my recent brief hiatus from the blog. I knew I’d return to the topic my first post back, but not with such timing: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day coincides with the presidential inauguration.

In the spirit of disclosure, I’m a registered Democrat who pulled the lever for Obama without hesitation in 2008. I voted the same in 2012, though not with nearly equal certainty as I did the first time.

This had less to do with the candidates or even their platforms than it did with my own evolving standpoint that feels more and more like a no-man’s land between the two camps.

Let me first quote in full the e-mail before I go any further. I thought the blue font would not only be in keeping with the partisan trenches from which it hails, but also give the overall color scheme the fitting semblance of a bruise…

Dear Red States:

We’re ticked off at your Neanderthal attitudes and politics and we’ve decided we’re leaving.

We in New York intend to form our own country and we’re taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren’t aware that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and the rest of the Northeast.

We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation and especially to the people of the new country of The Enlightened States of America (E.S.A).

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.

We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Andrew Cuomo and Elizabeth Warren. You get Bobby Jindal and Todd Akin.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.

We get Intel and Apple and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss.

We get 85 percent of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs.

You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

With the Blue States in hand we will have firm control of 80% of the country’s fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95% of America’s quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90% of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the US low sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech, and MIT.

With the Red States you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans and their projected health care costs, 92% of all US mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson, and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Thirty-eight percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11, and 61% of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

We’re taking the good weed too. You can have that crap they grow in Mexico.


Citizen of the Enlightened States of America

I love a good laugh as much as anyone, but is this supposed to be funny? Or is it rather a chance to mask in the name of progressivism an offensive yet permissible feature of mainstream American culture, that is, liberal bigotry?

Note the condescending reference to “slave states” in a series of lashings that regard Republicans—specifically Christian Republicans—as a kind of one-dimensional savage unfit for citizenship.

Ironically, if not a bit idiotically, the ESA manifesto finds a bygone kindred spirit in those very slave states that once threatened secession on similar grounds.

But thankfully, a Republican president—a Christian to boot—stopped that from happening and preserved the federation. The ESA gets Hollywood, but apparently to no effect if the recent release of Lincoln right after the election can’t put a reality check on the distribution of their manifesto.

And one can only wonder how the document’s stated New York origins could allow for such a blithe shrug at ninety percent of the hurricanes in the immediate wake of Sandy’s brutal impact on the Big Apple.

So much for high moral standards. Or basic self-awareness.

Maybe I’m the one now sounding like a prig. To be clear, none of this intends to be a PR job for the Christian Right, who certainly have much to repent for in being less a city on a hill than a bunker that would rather wage culture wars than spread the gospel of peace.

But for all the charges of bigotry levied against its red-state base, why does the same hateful spirit roam freely under the guise of liberalism?

In light of today’s double occasion, do we not all have a tremendous heritage in states like Georgia where Martin Luther King, Jr. was born, and Alabama where he marched? Does Obama’s second inaugural address not present a most fitting occasion for reflection on the indelible resonance down to this very day of Lincoln’s second such address?

The ESA can take the low road with Enlightened if they must; I’d rather stay put and try to fly the friendly skies with United instead.

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  • Luanne Austin

    The bigotry is on both sides, Bradford. The liberals’ bigotry is hidden beneath altruistic-sounding sound bites.

    I always vote third party these day, for the candidate I really want instead of the one who has a chance against the one I’m afraid of. Much prefer voting from faith than fear.
    It also sends a message to the Democrat-Republican machine. Oh that many more would voice their discontent!
    This describes the Democrat-Republican strategy: “Everybody likes to have an enemy. When you have an enemy, it gives you something to rally together and fight against. Governments have used this as a means of mass control for centuries. When we all hate somebody together, it makes us [Republicans or Democrats] work together to fight them. You always see the most patriotism when there’s an enemy to battle against.” ~ Toby Russell, Common Enemy Marketing and Why It Works

  • Bradford, Thank you for the insight here, and the challenge. I’m glad that your hiatus from the blog is over and am looking forward to more of your articles!

    • Brad Winters

      Thanks, Dawn — glad to be back!

  • Brad Winters

    No doubt it’s on both sides, and certainly no less so on the right — a fact so obvious I felt no need to point it out. Seems to get more of a hall pass, though, when coming from the left. Thanks for weighing in…

  • T.Martin Lesh.

    # 1 Listen to the Stealers Wheel song ” Stuck in the Middle ” as you and I seem to be on the same page at the moment and thats been my ‘ political ‘ theme song for the last three years . As I put it in 2012 …. I voted against Romney …. not for Obama as I did in 2008

    # 2 Watch ” Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner ” The dichotomy of the Liberal ‘ closest ‘ bigot is well addressed thru out

    #3 Do realize both parties have been royally hijacked by the extreme elements in each at present . Two elderly and retired former DC Alum from the lat 50’s till the 80’s saying point blank this is the worst they’ve seen DC in their lifetime. The Nixon era included

    • Brad Winters

      I will listen and watch accordingly as prescribed in #1 and #2; and, yes, I realize what you say in #3. That’s quite a statement from your alum friends.

  • Glad you’re back, Brad. And it’s great to have you take to task that email and all it stands for–though as I was reading it, I (like you) kept thinking it must be a hoax. It’s surely not “Enlightened.”

    • Brad Winters

      Thanks, Peggy. Glad to be back!

  • It’s not nice, but I think it comes from a place of being sick of how the loud far right has behaved for the last four years. We all live in our own little bubbles, but I have to say that the people who oppose Obama have sounded really over the top to me. There’s no leftist version of “Obama 2016”, for example. And I know that after the election I was inundated by messages from people on the right which were angrier, nastier, less civil and more apoleptic than anything I’ve ever witnessed before outside of a Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh show. It was bad. And I think that a lot of people on the left felt like Obama made a big mistake by trying to work with Republicans who weren’t working in good faith. So the whole idea of cooperation and civility between the sides has been rather discredited in many people’s eyes. All of which is to say that while the email wasn’t nice or charitable, I think it’s a bit understandable. At least from my little perch, I just don’t see any equivalence between the nastiness on the left vs on the right. The right wins in spade in that competition, I’m afraid.

  • Brad Winters

    Yes, the loud far right certainly has been sickening. (Hence my point about the Christian Right’s bunker mentality and priority in culture wars.) I think what I was trying to explore in a limited space–all the more limited given the lengthy insert–is that when coming from the right the bigotry is so baldfaced and rightly criticized as such. The terms “conservative” and “bigotry” go hand-in-hand at the far right extremes. But “liberal” and “bigotry” at the other end often seem to escape the same pairing, at least in pop terminology, when the underlying spirit is the same. That’s the only place where I draw an equivalence, not in their comparative outward manifestations. Thanks for weighing in…

  • George King

    Also addressing Luanne Austin’s “a message to the Democrat-Republican machine, a common enemy”. “When we all hate somebody together, it makes us [Republicans or Democrats] work together to fight them. You always see the most patriotism when there’s an enemy to battle against.” ~ Toby Russell, Common Enemy

    If you are or are not a member of a religious group discussions should be pursued in haste regarding these words from Pope Francis

    “A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules,” “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems,” he wrote.

    “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Pope Francis wrote

    Corporatist who have the politicians by a strangle hold by either bankrolling their elections (not to mention their bank accounts) or just shear intimidation of their
    current strangle hold on the commons…and the list goes on

    All those battling this should order & read “Deer Hunting with Jesus” (Dispatches from America’s class war) by Joe Bageant.

    We have seen this before and some Brave Patriots have resolved this before.

    The results

    This link gives some history here, if only Obama followed
    up his Supreme Court Stare down!

    1937 – The Supreme Court

    A study of the O’Connor collection at the FDR Presidential Library reveals that
    no topic has provided cartoonists with more inspiration that FDR’s “court
    packing” proposal. In his Second Inaugural Address FDR had indicated he
    was ready to pursue a more vigorous path to reform. He stated, I see one-third
    of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished… .” FDR proposed to add
    up to six new judges to the Supreme Court and up to 44 judges to lower federal
    tribunals. His scheme was advertised as court reform.

    There is more