The United States hasn’t seen any states actually secede from the rest of the country since the Civil War, yet secession movements are still alive and well. Though often thought of as a libertarian ideal, secessionists movements exist across the political spectrum, and even some liberals have toyed with the notion in recent years. Secession movements have existed for a long time, and they are (mostly) not very likely to bear fruit. Americans have increasingly begun to settle in region’s friendly to their political leanings, creating areas where majorities are so strong that candidates for office can comfortably ignore their opposition. The incentive for compromise is weak. For some minorities, the only outlet for their frustration with their leaders is to entertain fantasies of splitting their state in two, or founding their own sovereign nation.
History: Texas is one of three states (along with Hawaii and Vermont) that have ever tasted the glory of nationhood, and the state still prides itself on its independent ethos. Their tourism slogan, 'Texas, its like a whole other country,' says it all.
Texas was an independent nation for about a decade before it was annexed to the United States. Then not long after statehood, Texas, along with the rest of the South, seceded. A sizable number of Texans still question the legality of the annexation. There is a good number of groups advocating secession; one is even printing Texan currency.
Governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry, even flirted with the idea of secession at a Tea Party rally in 2009.
'We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot.'
Viability: If any state can go it alone, it's Texas. The have already fought a few wars of their own, so they certainly have experience with foreign policy. Trade is a huge part of their economy as well. They already export more than any other state. If the Lone Star state were a country, it's GDP would equal that of Russia. Their economy is very diverse, with energy, agriculture, and technology (thanks NASA) leading the way.
Likelihood: Possible, but certainly not probable. Even though almost half of Texas Republicans thought it was a good idea according to a 2009 survey, a sizable majority still said Texas was better off as a state, not a country.
By their sheer size, Texans can pull more water through influencing the United States. And in addition to their influence over the federal government, their disproportionate share of the textbook market gives Texas a lot of sway over what teachers will be covering all across the country.
History: When Alaska became a state in 1959, Alaskans were not given the option of becoming a sovereign nation. The Alaska Independence Party never saw that as fair. Since 1973 they have been campaigning for a redo of the plebiscite, or referendum, that made Alaska the 49th state.
Their founder, Joe Vogler, once said, 'I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions... The fires of Hell are glaciers compared to my hate for the American government.'
The AIP is the third largest party in Alaska, with over 14,000 registered members. Todd Palin was once a member, and though Sarah Palin has never been officially in the party, she has actually spoken at at least two AIP conventions. As late as 2008, she told AIP members, 'I'm delighted to welcome you to the 2008 Alaska Independence Party Convention. ... Keep up the good work!'
Viability: Alaska is about as dependent on oil exports as Saudi Arabia. With the price of oil as high as it is, the state could theoretically go it alone with an economy fuelled by oil.
Likelihood: Alaska gets more earmarks out of the federal government than any other state, including some oft-mocked appropriations like the so-called Bridge to Nowhere. With so much federal money flowing into the state, severing those ties could be disastrous to the state's economy.
History: With intensely Democratic urban and suburban Los Angeles dominating the region's politics, it is easy to forget that mid-century Southern California was once a conservative Mecca. Republicans in California are frustrated by the state's high taxes and recurrent budget woes. It doesn't help that their votes in presidential races might just as well not be counted. For these reasons, Republican Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone proposed that 13 mostly conservative, rural counties in Southern California should break ties with the rest of the state.
Viability: The political will is certainly there, but it would be a logistical mess. Stone's chief of staff said that they were 'flooded with people wanting to volunteer and help' after the proposal to secede passed 4-0. However, much of the region's water supply comes from the North, and some of the counties are hindered by staggering budget shortfalls. South California would be the fourth largest state if it broke off. If the new state did form with a low tax burden, it could draw business to the region, becoming a sort of Caymans of the Southwest.
Likelihood: A longshot. In the unlikely event that this movement becomes anything more than a 'crazy distraction,' as a fellow county supervisor, Bob Buster, put it, the new state would still have to be approved by Congress. Congressional Democrats would be unlikely to support adding a new, reliably red state into the Electoral College. As a spokesman for Governor Jerry Brown (D) put it, 'If you want to live in a Republican state with very conservative right-wing laws, then there's a place called Arizona.''
History: Earlier this year, liberal activists in Tuscon, Arizona began a petition to put the secession of Pima County from Arizona on the ballot in 2012. They would call the new state Baja Arizona. The more liberal southern part of Arizona is politically distinct from the increasingly conservative state. Like South Californians, Pima County Democrats are frustrated with being lumped in with the rest of their state, particularly when it comes time to cast ballots in presidential elections; the Republican candidate has carried Arizona in every election except one since 1948.
Viability: Pima county surpasses several states in both landmass and population. It's population is also on the rise, with new residents bolstering the region's economy in sectors like Tucson's expanding high-tech industry.
Likelihood: Like Southern California, Baja Arizona would require congressional approval to become a new state, something that doesn't seem all too likely. Tuscon is another example of geographic polarization of America, but that doesn't mean it can easily break free and declare statehood.
History: Vermont's secession movement, the Second Vermont Republic, was mainly precipitated by Bush-era foreign policy. Their founder, Economics professor Thomas Naylor, wants the Second Vermont Republic to be 'left-libertarian, anti-big government, anti-empire, antiwar, with small is beautiful as our guiding philosophy.'
SVR's 2010 gubernatorial candidate, Dennis Steele, vowed to call back Vermont's National Guard from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
History: Christian Exodus was founded in 2003. Their movement is not a secession movement per se. Their goal is to convince Christian extremists to all move to South Carolina, where they can form a critical mass and govern the state according to their ideology.
They say on their website,
'The long process of disentanglement from idolatrous dependencies includes such practices of moving towards a home-centered economy, with intentional community, home-schooling, home-gardening, house churches, health-cost sharing, private exchange, unlicensed ministry, and any other way in which we might live free and godly lives in Christ Jesus, without prostrating ourselves to eat from the hand of the imperial magistrate.'
Viability: Only a handful of families relocated to South Carolina to turn the state into a Christian utopia.
Likelihood: After a lackluster showing in South Carolina, the group is now looking into Idaho and Latin America for potential resettlement.
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