Since the Presidential election last Tuesday, intrigue in the idea of Cascadia has spiked. Predictably, much of this spike in interest originates from partisan political frustration rather than a general interest in the existing movement or its keystone principles. As I wrote last week, no significant change is likely to come as a direct result of this phenomenon, nor should we expect it to.
As predictable as this spike in interest has been, so too have the common reactions from the majority of people who’ve never heard of Cascadia before. The theme of such feedback can be summed up as follows: the idea of Cascadia is foolish and worthless because liberals and conservatives in different areas of the region would, of course, never be able to form a consensus with one another, let alone that any actual attempt to secede would result in conflict and disaster.
Setting aside the logistics of secession for now (which is an entirely different discussion for another day), this type of kneejerk reaction falls into the same trap as some of the politically-motivated advocacy has been for a one-sided, left-wing separatist movement calling for the states of California, Washington, and Oregon to secede (Pacifica); because certain states and/or counties voted Democrat and lost means they’re no longer compatible with those that voted Republican. I have just one rhetorical question in response to this argumentative framework: since when did any single partisan political ideology or party become the foundation for nationhood? Spoiler alert: it never has.
Making a single partisan affiliation the bedrock of any national movement is utterly foolish and destined to fail spectacularly. By doing so, there’s no stopping how narrow or rigid that ideology can get before it continues splintering groups of people which would (and should) otherwise be united. Eventually, you get to a point where the parameters of any given ideology are so exclusive that they allow for only a small subset of individuals. Anywhere you go, be it a country, a state, a city, or even a neighborhood; you’ll find a spectrum of politics that spreads beyond any single ideology.
This is why I want to emphasize how pivotal it is to recognize Cascadia, the Cascadian identity, and the Cascadian independence movement as being far greater than politics. Just as the identities of “American” and “Canadian” convey national values, sentiments, and affinities far beyond partisan politics, so too must “Cascadian.” This means we must reject those naïve and ill-fated attempts to equate Cascadia with any given partisan political ideology or group.
The Cascadian identity and the movement supporting it must be about our societal common bonds which originate from our bioregion. Our common bonds as a society do not come from the colors of our skin. Nor do they come from the locations of our birth. Nor do they come from the bloodlines of our ancestors. Nor do they come from the holy spaces we worship in. Nor, especially, do they come from the personal political ideologies we subscribe to as individuals.
We must acknowledge the fact that we are different from the rest of Canada and the United States because our bioregion is separate and unique. We must embrace the possibility that we are able to unite as one because our bioregion is one. We must look past existing political borders and colors on maps and accept the natural boundaries God has given us. We must rally around the rivers, mountains, forests, and climate Mother Nature has provided us in our bioregion. Only then can Cascadia be a big and bold idea that persons of different partisan affiliations can embrace.
I cannot speak for anyone else, but I want to stake my claim here:
Whether you reside in Canada or the United States;
Whether you live east or west of the Cascade mountain range;
Whether or not you voted for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals last autumn;
Whether or not you voted for Donald Trump last week;
If you cherish our bioregion and acknowledge that our foundational bonds as a society come from it, then I stand with you.
This is what identifying as Cascadian should mean. Even if all we ever achieve is tangible unity in a cultural sense, growing this movement into a national force will require patience and radical acceptance. We must reach out to and accept our neighbors of many different persuasions if we’re truly committed to this movement and the goal of a united Cascadia. By doing so, we reject fear and cynicism.
Many will mock our efforts and some may even claim them to be treasonous. We know that supporting and advocating for Cascadia is not treachery. Much like Quebec nationalists are loyal Canadians and Scottish nationalists are loyal Britons, both groups even being members of their respective country’s Parliaments, we Cascadians are loyal Americans and/or Canadians who embrace a different national identity which is good and true. Without shredding or diminishing our loyalties to our fellow citizens, or skirting our obligations as citizens of our countries as they exist today, we choose to build the foundations for a strong and united Cascadia which may one day be politically free and independent.
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