Why The West Coast Will Be Free
The future of the West Coast will be bright once we‘re free from the wreck of dying America.
Why? Because we’re the most diverse, wealthiest, and progressive part of the country. The West Coast deserves better than to be trapped in a sham democracy forever subsidizing poorer Red states bent on eliminating rights most people on the West Coast take for granted.
Y’know, stuff like being able to mandate vaccinations and masks. Working public health systems that let people choose what to do with their own bodies. Enabling every eligible person to vote in elections. Fighting climate change.
America’s federal government is a lobbyist owned playground for the powerful. Both parties checkmate any meaningful change, with the natural consequence that the vast majority of Americans disapprove of the entire federal government.
Is it any surprise then that over 40% of Americans across both left and right favor breaking up the country? Pundits decry the disturbing emergence of political violence, yet never seem willing to acknowledge that when a system is as broken as America’s radical solutions become the only practical ones people have left.
Political instability is what scientists call an outcome variable. It emerges when enough people believe the system has failed their behavior changes to cope with the new reality. This causes even more fragmentation until a new stable state is found, a new balance.
As the United States of America becomes ever less so and the federal government remains mired in partisan dysfunction, the simple need for calm will eventually drive most people to demand a working solution, whatever that may be.
One possibility is that this takes America down the Weimar road. But another path is much more likely for America given the prominent role states have under the Constitution, something Germany lacked during the Nazis’ rise. Massive amounts of power has accrued to the federal government since the Great Depression and Second World War broke and remade America a century ago, but America is and remains a legal federation of states.
Like the Soviet Union that it now resembles in key ways, America is far less likely to fight a civil war or see widespread militia violence than it is to see political leaders at the state level simply stop respecting federal authority, triggering a legal crisis. The USSR was dissolved by its own leaders, it didn’t fall to revolution or civil war even though there was violence between factions in Moscow. The fate of America will likely be much the same, though perhaps without any formal agreement.
The dramatic concentration of federal power in the United States was never the intent of the Founders. It was brought about by a fairly small group of powerful white men who, under FDR’s long tenure, forged a new version of America to handle the great global collapse of the 1930s and 1940s.
Once the Second World War was won and America stood atop the burning wreckage, insulated from the conflict and so naturally poised to be the world’s factory during reconstruction, FDR’s successors were able to consolidate tremendous power in the hands of the federal government.
It is easy to forget just how deeply involved the government became in people’s everyday lives in the thirties and forties. What began as jobs and public works programs and the creation of a nationwide social safety net morphed into conscription and rationing programs during the war. For years every American male of a certain age was medically evaluated to determine where they would best fit in the great industrial war machine. Families got groceries by submitting ration cards, and were encouraged to invest their savings in government war bonds.
After the war American culture remained deeply militarized, conformity akin to that most men had been forced to adopt in wartime service becoming the norm in the new suburban society. Radio broadcasts mostly gave way to television, a medium requiring substantial infrastructure like studios and theaters and electronics factories that only wealthy companies could afford to own and operate.
Naturally, those connected to the government or inherited fortunes — still disproportionately concentrated in the Northeast at this time — had a disproportionate impact on how this played out. The major myths of America people born after 1945 grew up with were created at this time using techniques cribbed straight from Joseph Goebbels.
This system is crumbling today because the Internet has radically democratized and decentralized communications. Instead of gatekeepers preventing Americans from witnessing the horrors of its wars at home and abroad, now when a drone kills children in Afghanistan or a Black man is murdered by police everyone sees it.
In the lived experience of the majority of Americans, democracy doesn’t matter because it hardly exists. The federal government is so distant, so alien, that voting is more like a prayer than a civic act.
As the postwar American mythos crumbles, Americans will more and more come to adopt new post-American identities. The process has already begun — young people are far less likely to say America is the best or even an especially good country than their elders.
Truth be told, for most of us who have spent most of our lives on the West Coast, everything east of the Rocky mountains is like another world. The American West of national lore is the east of us:
The West Coast was little more than a colony until the end of the Second World War, after the indigenous genocides in California and the Northwest. Most of the region was given over to farming and forestry until the 1940s, when war needs and the availability of hydropower were joined in the vast aircraft factories and shipyards of Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, and Seattle.
And, of course, America’s first atomic bombs were made from material refined at Hanford, now a federal superfund site that threatens to contaminate the Columbia River. Even today, the West Coast houses around half of America’s sea-based nuclear weapons in bunkers west of Seattle.
As America crumbles, it is much more likely to fragment than divide into hard Red and Blue teams bent on fighting a second civil war. Separation is also much more likely than the scenario of widespread communal violence like Ireland saw during The Troubles.
Why? For all the media hype about Americans’ support for violence in certain polls, the reality is more complex. Sustaining large-scale violence is not easy — it requires resources and extreme motivations that the vast majority of Americans lack, even if they possess lots of small arms.
It is notable that, after a year where three quarters of Republicans believe the myth that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen (despite Republicans out-performing expectations in Congress) and the political violence threshold was passed in the Capitol Attack, there have been no more major incidents.
The few people who are actually willing to initiate violence will trigger a massive counter-response from whatever state government is responsible even if the federal government falls apart. The National Guard remains under the command of state governors, and even the smallest state’s forces could swiftly smash any local militia.
There is a reason Republicans are so desperate to forget the Capitol Attack even happened or pretend it was an Antifa false flag op. Most Americans do not want even their own side to engage in violence. No insurgency can be long maintained in this environment.
Barring the military splitting into two factions after a contested election, any violence as America breaks up will be limited and quickly contained by state-level National Guard forces. The real reason prominent voices are talking up the possibility of political violence is that fear of it has become part of the stale two-party doom loop, partisan pundits fighting over how the rest of us are allowed to even think about what is happening in America.
Americans are being threatened with an awful future if they don’t return to proper worship of the civic faith, an America forever dominated by powerful interests in D.C. Partisans need Americans to have only a limited understanding of what is happening to them and where this inevitable, frankly overdue period of collapse and reconstruction will probably take America.
The game is all about power for them, in whatever form they prefer — authority, prestige, or wealth. Few gain a position as a prominent pundit without selling out to a patron whose worldview they defend and protect.
And so even as talk of America’s possible violent end stops being taboo, the pundits are fighting to make people so afraid of what might happen they won’t stop to question what is likely to. If they did, the emperor’s nakedness would be impossible to ignore.
Nature will take its course as it has in dozens of complex societies in history. At some point, probably in the next decade, the American federal government will deadlock completely, unable to even pass budgets or pay bills.
At that point, the basic need to preserve law and order and so people can get on with their lives will mean the West Coast ends up an independent country.
This moment will mark a grand turning point in the West Coast’s history. The day it emerges as the free nation it deserves to be, because the West Coast just isn’t like the rest of the USA.
First off, the whole demographic transition thing where white people finally stop being the majority of the population? Already happened here.
Our economy depends on trade and immigration — most companies here work directly with partners abroad, so we don’t have time or patience of nationalist bigotry. Thanks to our global integration, the West Coast economy is fundamentally strong.
Interstate 5 forms the spine of the economic megaregion, with the east-west freeways leading from the densely-trafficked ports in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, San Diego, and Portland functioning as arteries carrying imports to the rest of America. Enormous quantities of food are grown everywhere from Mexico to the Canadian border despite the fact the southern half of the West Coast is basically desert. Green power is abundant, with the Mojave basically begging to be made into a giant solar farm, offshore wind aplenty, and gobs of hydroelectric power in the Columbia basin.
The coastal cities are crowded, but more affordable inland places like Sacramento, Fresno, and Bend are growing fast. The West Coast is a technological powerhouse and center of global innovation. Silicon Valley is centered on San Jose and has basically taken over San Francisco. Seattle is the home of Microsoft, which remains vital to the global operation system and gaming industries. Berkeley, Stanford, and Cal Tech are world-renowned universities and innovation leaders.
Despite the fear-mongering from writers back east who have no idea how mismanaged most federal and state lands are out here, the West Coast is destined to be a climate change refuge. Most people live close to the coast, where temperatures are moderated by the Pacific, but homes are generally not in the path of massive storms.
Heat waves can be beaten with universal air conditioning. Droughts can be fought with improved water storage and efficiency measures currently not possible because the federal government is so utterly broken and water law out here is consequentially a hot mess.
The main climate threat we face is not storms or even sea level rise so much as wildfires, and these too can be managed with proper effort. The reason they aren’t, that the overgrown forests aren’t cared for as they should be, is once again the fact the federal government mismanages the huge tracts of land it holds.
The West Coast faces many challenges, from homelessness to climate change to pandemics and even China. But we’re more than capable of handling them on our own, if allowed to, because we’re:
- Politically united
If the West Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington were set free tomorrow, they would immediately embark on a series of fundamental political reforms that would make the West Coast look more like Canada or Germany than Texas or Florida. Yes, we do have millions of Trump supporters out here, but they are a fast-shrinking minority of the electorate.
The key political divide in the West Coast lies between progressives and liberals, not Democrats and Republicans — a function of the fact those Republicans who truly care about living in Red America have mostly left, like Democrats truly sincere in their beliefs ought to be fleeing Texas and Florida.
Most who remain are anti-Trump, traditional conservatives whose primary concern is preserving their rural culture. This is a fixable problem, as any federal government in the West Coast would quickly become democratic than the one we’re stuck with now.
It would have to become a multiparty system, and in fact, the shape of one is emerging across the West Coast. Oregon will see three viable candidates for governor in 2022, with the Republican likely to come in last. California recently adopted a new primary system that allows left and center democrats to run against each other in the general election.
Trump lost by a 2:1 margin among West Coast voters in both 2016 and 2020. All six senators and the vast majority of House representatives from the West Coast are Democrats. Left alone, the West Coast would be one of the most progressive democracies in the entire world.
And have I mentioned we’re freaking rich?
The West Coast, were it an independent country, would have a gross domestic product of $4.3 trillion, edging out Germany for the world’s #4 spot, now far behind Japan. That’s a hair under 20% of the US total GDP. Spread across a total population of about 52 million, that makes the West Coast one of the wealthiest countries on the planet.
Universal healthcare, free college and the end of student loans, real climate change action, a working public health system — on the West Coast we can have it all. It’s the simple fact we’re stuck with the rest of America that holds us back.
And don’t come at me with the oh, but what about scaaaary China?! nonsense argument.
A fifth of the American economy means the West Coast could sustain a fifth of the American military budget. The base Pentagon budget is now a smidge under $800 billion annually. A West Coast Defense Force with a $160 billion annual budget would be the 3rd best-funded military force on the planet.
That’s enough to maintain all the military forces the US currently has in the Pacific. The arsenal includes the half of the United States Navy stationed in San Diego or Seattle, a third of the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, three active Army brigades at Fort Lewis near Seattle and Irwin in California plus the National Guard, and a decent chunk of the Air Force to boot.
Plus, we’re a nuclear power thanks to the Trident submarines stationed outside of Seattle. Ain’t nobody messing with a free West Coast :)
In addition, America’s Pacific allies, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan, would benefit from having a fifth of the American military focused 100% on their region instead of dealing with a forever distracted D.C. establishment that doesn’t understand Asia. Together, this nascent Pacific Alliance is as rich and powerful as China will ever be — the perfect grounds for a relationship built on mutual respect that secures the peace in the Pacific.
And if you’re worried about Red America going all Putin on the West Coast one day, the idea of us being attacked by even fascist Red State America is simply laughable. Even if some crazy fascist leader in D.C. controlled the rest of America and was determined to play Manifest Destiny, he couldn’t take the West Coast in a lifetime of trying.
The West Coast is a natural fortress. Once free, ain’t nobody taking this place if it’s defended. From the east you’ve got to cross hundreds of miles of arid plains then cross mountains just to get near our population centers.
Not that there is any real concern of having to defend against federal attack. Americans aside from a few crazies don’t want a fight, they want political separation into defined regions with a clear political majority. That brings stability, creating space for new ideas and solutions to emerge when people aren’t panicking all the damn time.
Yes, there are lots of left-leaning Blue State Americans who are gonna be trapped in Red States when America breaks up. But the West Coast is more than happy to bring America’s huddled, abused masses here where they won’t be trapped in an eternal civil war between North and South or Red and Blue.
We need and want migrants, remember. There’s plenty of space. And managed right, the West Coast can be a paradise.
Sooner or later the natural course of human events will lead to the West Coast becoming an independent country.The sub-regions of this unique place are linked together more than we’ll ever be tied to the rest of America. Our history is different, our politics are different, our culture is different, our economy is advanced and growing fast.
Unlike most of America, we’re not majority white. The West Coast has become a vibrant and separate new regional culture that deserves to be free.
It’s plain simple common sense to assume that soon enough, it will be.
And so as far as I’m concerned from here on out, it’s West Coast, Best Coast, Only Coast for me.