The 2016 election in the United States has resulted in President-elect Donald Trump, who won the Electoral College even though more actual people voted for Hillary Clinton. I highlight this only to emphasize that, for the 2nd time in 16 years, a candidate with more popular support has lost the electoral vote needed to become President. After this latest example of how the American voting model has stymied democratic fidelity, protests have erupted in several cities across the country. In Cascadia, these protests have taken center stage in Portland and Seattle as frustrated citizens vent their anger toward a result they see as unconscionable.
While the bulk of the protesting here has taken place in western Cascadia, smaller protests have occurred in eastern Cascadia as well, such as the one in Boise just last night. That’s not to say all of Cascadia is entirely displeased with the result of this election. Many counties in Oregon and Washington voted at least a plurality for the Republican nominee. In Idaho, nearly 60% of voters did the same. It would be easy to look at these numbers and conclude that these protests are due to nothing more than partisan affinities. But there remains a strong sensation of unease and incompatibility across Cascadia right now, even among some people who voted for Donald Trump out of frustration with the entire federal system emanating from the District of Columbia.
This may help explain the expressions of frustrated Cascadians wanting to separate themselves from the United States entirely, no longer wanting a few thousand voters in Florida or Ohio every year determining the fate of the country and Cascadia’s future. #CascadiaExit has popped up on Twitter (I’m only disappointed that there wasn’t a more clever pun like “Brexit”). A ballot initiative in Oregon to secede from the union has begun collecting signatures. These types of expressions happen all the time after divisive elections. Remember Texas talking about secession four years ago after President Obama was re-elected? How about Canadians from Manitoba to BC calling for a separate confederation of Western Canada after the Liberal Party’s victory last autumn?
Nothing concrete ever comes as a direct result of these types of expressions. Nothing concrete will likely come about this time either. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. A political initiative born primarily out of the heightened level of anger over a temporary political event doesn’t tend to last much longer than it takes for such anger to decrease naturally with time. Upholding that level of passion is just not sustainable.
No, we won’t swiftly and peacefully secede in some wonderful revolution which magically unites all of Cascadia as one. However, this does not mean we don’t have an opportunity as Cascadians to capitalize on this event.
Interest in the idea of Cascadia has skyrocketed in the last 2 days. I can affirm the visits to this site alone have quintupled on average since Tuesday with no extra marketing or publicity efforts that usual. We have a remarkable opportunity, right now, to introduce our movement to many newcomers and get them invested in the idea of Cascadia as a long-term goal. Not everyone will agree with every single point risen, which is perfectly alright. But the political and social environment to spread our ideas and talk to our fellow Cascadians, who aren’t yet aware of Cascadia, has never been more optimal. This is how strong movements grow organically in the early stages.
It is important, however, to not give up on the foundations of our movement and give into a desire for political expediency. Support for Cascadia should not be built off of reactionary politics or a narrow ideology. We must re-affirm that Cascadia as a civic identity is grounded in bioregionalism, without which “Cascadia” is nothing more than a trendy, unremarkable, American-centered phenomenon which quickly dies out over the next month or two. “Cascadian” must remain just as strong, if not stronger, of an apolitical identity as it is a political identity if we’re ever to have a chance in the future to establish the world we wish to thrive in. Just as “American” and “Canadian” convey so much more than politics and partisan affiliations, so too must “Cascadian.”
If we’re serious about Cascadian unity and growing this movement the right way, it will be a slow and arduous process. The growth of awareness will be slow but steady; newcomers’ full embracement of the movement will be the same. But, over time, a strong movement will be able to assert itself in the civic sphere of influence in Cascadia without being easily laughed off or ridiculed.
Our goal right now in this sphere of influence is to solidify a multi-partisan foundation in support of Cascadia on both the American and Canadian sides: liberal, conservative, socialist, libertarian, et cetera. The message of our movement is and will continue to be that we are fundamentally one people united and shaped by our unique region, separate from the rest of Canada and the United States. No matter who wins the next set of elections in either country or how many elections come to pass, we will forever be in a state of subordination, unable to truly thrive as we were meant to by our very nature, because of undue influence from other regions in our two countries.
We can and must unite and grow together under the one common goal; that we ought to truly be free and able to thrive as Cascadians. The rest is just noise.
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