The Cascadia Independence Movement Must Be Greater Than Politics

douglas fir tree cascadia, cascadia doug flag nature

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.

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

What the 2016 Election Means for Cascadia

donald trump protest seattle election 2016

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.

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

American Schism: How Bioregionalism is at the Heart of Political Discord

The United States of America is currently in the midst of its most politically polarized era since the Civil War.

The room for moderates within the two main political parties is vanishing, there’s a historical level of legislative obstructionism with a divided government, and distrust between voters of differing ideologies is becoming more potent. I’m not just saying this because it feels true; there’s plenty of data to back this up.

Just a few days ago, a Supreme Court Justice passed away unexpectedly and statements from leaders in both political parties demanded opposing courses of action regarding the nomination of his replacement no more than half an hour after the news broke. The level of such clear divisiveness is disturbing, frustrating, and sobering.

It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that political dysfunction is resulting from stark differences in political ideology or economic class; these are very apparent in the everyday lives of American citizens. Policy proposals to solve these issues are rooted in these differences. However, I believe there’s a more fundamental element at play.

After all, there have been more extreme ideologies to take hold in the halls of Congress, more blatant examples of corruption, and more dire levels of income inequality within the past 100 years than what we witness today. And yet, the schism seems more irreconcilable now than ever before.

I believe the real root cause of this political divisiveness and dysfunction is due to the fact that the defining elements of what constitutes the American ethos are no longer unified across the country. In other words, the commonalities of what defines American nationhood (even outside of the realm of politics) are scarcer and more diminished than ever before.

There is more prominent and more fundamental divergence from the traditional “American norm” in the daily lives of its citizens to the point where the United States can no longer be legitimately considered a single united nation.


Before I continue with this argument, I want to clarify what I mean by the term “nation.” A nation is a collective of people who share a common sense of civic belonging (a common nationhood) and have some level of commonality in culture, economy, etc. in a geographically coherent region.

A nation is not defined by auxiliary human characteristics such as race, ethnicity, skin color, language, or anything similar, as these characteristics do not force or compel any person(s) to act or interact with others in distinguishable ways which exemplify a given nationhood. Furthermore, a nation (in the sense I’m referring to) speaks to a collective of people meant to be effected by civic policy in a unifying manner, be it through formal self-governance or some other form of public power.

My argument is that American nationhood, as has been apparent in previous generations of American citizens, is not and has never been an identity formed out of a single, coherent foundation. I believe what we recognize as American nationhood is actually a conglomeration of commonalities derived from environmentally-distinguished regions within the geographic boundaries of the country.

The United States isn’t a single nation in this sense, but a country made up of several nations, each made distinguishable by its respective environment. Over the past 2-3 decades, the natural ethos (plural) of these regional nations have grown more influential and significant in their own right, causing the level of commonalities apparent between all of them to diminish. This is directly due to the effect of bioregionalism.


If you’re unfamiliar with bioregionalism, I’ll reference you to two of my previous blog posts here and here.

The “too long; didn’t read” summary of bioregionalism is this: the identity of a society is directly shaped, at least in part, by the bioregional environment that society resides in (bioregional environment includes plant life, animal life, geography, climate, etc.). You can understand bioregionalism as a philosophy, a phenomenon, or a system of intangibles, but each framework asserts the same truth: place shapes identity.

When we apply a bioregional framework to the United States, we see the country as a collection of bioregions which each have their own distinct ethos that contribute to the conglomeration of the whole. Because each region’s ethos is shaped by its respective bioregional makeup, there will be some level of fundamental differentiation between “national” identities from region to region.

bioregional map of north america, bioregion map of north america
Bioregional Map of Upper North America

The existing federal system within the United States is not capable of adequately embodying what each respective region understands to be “American” because that identity is subjective and regionally based. The federal system cannot and will not reflect any one region’s concept of national identity fully.

I believe this is why the American people, across many differing political ideologies, classes, and backgrounds feel something is fundamentally wrong with the federal body politic, as evidenced by the emergence of credible political candidates in the “extreme” wing of their respective party.

Factors such as too much money in campaigns or gerrymandering certainly exacerbate this problem, but I do not believe they are the cause. These issues have been present for nearly as long as the United States has existed, yet the country was able to function as a coherent federal system for most of its history prior to the present.

The problem now is that non-central bioregional identities (i.e. not the Northeast or the South), which were of small influence without significant population size up until a few decades ago, now have a very noticeable effect on the American ethos. This phenomenon is throwing the country out of whack because the existing federal system was not designed to handle the current level of bioregional diversity.

Think of it this way: the American identity is the black circle in the middle of the picture below. Its existence is made out of the commonalities which are present between its bioregional identities, represented by the colored circles below.

bioregional ethos example, bioregional identities, how bioregionalism works

Throughout most of its history, the United States was almost exclusively influenced by 2 or 3 regional identities. Over time, the other bioregions grew in population size and have become home to generations of Americans which have lived their entire lives in these regions, each being influenced by their respective environment.

These other regions have “divergent” identities which don’t fit as well with those of the regions more central to America’s identity. As the influences of these other regions grow, it shrinks the level of commonality within the collection, thereby causing the black circle in the middle (aka the American identity) to shrink. And, as that black circle shrinks, each region finds themselves more distinguishable from the others now versus the past when the level of commonality was sufficient to adequately cover most everyone.

Where Do We Go From Here?

This bioregional reality means the citizens of the United States need to cease trying to understand the country as if it were a single united nation and, more importantly, trying to get the federal system to behave as if it was a single, coherent nation-state. Bioregionalism’s effect on national identity must be acknowledged and reconciled with the existing system. And, by the way, this argument holds true for Canada too, which is also a country made up of several bioregions.

If the United States is to continue to thrive as a federal union, this may mean significant changes in the near future, such as constitutional reform (i.e. a 2nd constitutional convention), the realignment of state boundaries to better reflect bioregional ethos, or possibly even the contraction of America’s borders to allow for greater unity.

I don’t know what the “correct” answer is. But, as a Cascadian who embraces that identity because it holds coherence and fidelity with my sense of civic belonging, I realize the path forward for Cascadia may eventually diverge from that of the United States and Canada.

Regardless, I believe one of the most important steps forward all Americans can make together is to recognize, understand, and embrace the true nature of American nationhood. Only then can there be clarity to move past this potent era of political division and polarization once and for all. Otherwise, I fear the consequences of what an angry populace will do when faced with a system which is no longer capable of responding to its will.

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

A Moderate’s Perspective on the Cascadia Movement

The Cascadia movement is young and vibrant. We have lots of different opinions about what the movement should encompass and even more energy behind these motivations. We’ve got literature, social gatherings, conferences, and dedicated organizations all expanding the visibility and awareness of Cascadia. Considering this movement has really gotten off the ground only in the last 10 years or so, after more than a decade(s) of work by dedicated individuals prior to this, it is apparent to me that we’re on a pretty good trajectory.

Awareness is consistently increasing in the region. Visions for the region’s future are widespread and positive. Optimistic enthusiasm for regional change in various capacities (i.e. social, political, economic) is growing.

One noticeable aspect of this young movement is that some of the more prominent voices leading it are radical. That is to say, the visions of these individuals for Cascadia’s future is a fundamental change in one aspect or another toward, what many would consider, an absolute overhaul of the status quo. These opinions are commonly lumped together as “fringe” or politically left/right wing.

I’m not here to pass judgment on such opinions. In fact, I think radical voices are often necessary when the status quo needs agitating, even when I don’t entirely agree with the opinions expressed, because they can speak to a greater truth the general public doesn’t quite grasp yet. However, I often find myself at odds with the totality of such arguments because I hold views which most in the region would likely consider moderate or temperate.

OK, yes: I personally support the eventual secession of Cascadia through democratic means so the region attains sovereignty. I don’t believe my rationale for justifying or going about this is at all radical (you can read about it all in my book—links are at the bottom), but I can see how such an opinion can be considered radical because it speaks to a fundamental change in the status quo. Point taken.

The majority of my personal opinions on matters of civics are mild. Compared to the United States or Canada as a whole, I’d probably be considered center-left in the political spectrum, but so too is the entire Cascadian region (on a macro level) in comparison. When listening to the viewpoints of those within the Cascadian region on various issues, I often find myself agreeing with various points on “both sides” of the argument (understanding that there are always more than just two sets of opinions).

I don’t think that makes me indecisive or wrong; I just think that objective truth entails a reality incomprehensibly complex that there are likely 100 different ways to solve any one issue collectively, all of which may conflict with each other in some form or another and yet all “correct” in similar capacity as well. I’m also not naïve enough to believe that my opinions alone on any given issue are absolutely correct in the entirety of all things each considers. After all, I’m not an all-knowing deity.

I’m in the middle. That’s not a bad thing. And, more importantly, that doesn’t mean there’s no place for me in the Cascadia movement. In fact, I believe my place in the Cascadia movement is essential for its continued success and anyone identifying with where I’m at relative to radical voices should feel the same way. We’ve got a lot to offer Cascadia; we shouldn’t undermine our own talents or self-worth because we don’t project prophetic oratory that romantically grapples with the dichotomies of good versus evil or freedom versus enslavement.

There’s a theory in business called the 80/20 rule. It states that 80% of your productivity will come from 20% of your assets. This may lead you to believe that the remaining 80% of your assets are unimportant. In reality, it’s often that remaining 80% which pushes you over the edge to succeed and meet your goals.

This is how I see the Cascadia movement at times: 80% of the prominent opinions being voiced in the movement come from about 20% of its supporters which tend to be more radical. This can be intimidating or off-putting to most who just don’t fully agree and aren’t radical. It shouldn’t be. While around 80% of Cascadia’s supporters are relatively quiet, it will be their voices which are necessary for the movement to truly thrive and make real differences in the world.

If you’re somewhere in the middle and support the Cascadia movement, or if you’re merely intrigued but aren’t convinced to support it yet, I’m here to proclaim your importance. You have something wonderful to offer Cascadia in your own right and I encourage you to make use of your talents. It could be anything which positively impacts Cascadia. If you feel called to make a difference in your own way, do it. It may not be the most prominent act which advances the movement by leaps and bounds, but it could very well be vital to its continued success.

The Cascadia movement is a big tent with plenty of room for moderates and radicals alike. If you call Cascadia home, love this region’s natural composition, and identify with its shared spirit, you belong. So, act like you belong and do something awesome to help. What are you waiting for?

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

The Cascadian Political Spectrum

What if Cascadia was its own country with its own political system? What would our political spectrum look like?

Actually, let me back up: I believe the Cascadian bioregion has helped produce a distinguishable ethos that communities within the region exemplify (if you’re lost with this concept of environment shaping identity, catch up on one of my previous blog posts regarding the phenomenon of bioregionalism). One thing which has derived from this ethos is a system of civic and political values which is both coherent and wide-ranging.

In other words, Cascadia already has its own political spectrum. But, because Cascadia is not (yet) a country of its own, it’s hard to clearly identify what our system of political values is and how it’s differentiated from the rest of the United States and Canada.

I’m going to attempt to identify and categorize the main groups of political/civic values which a majority of people in the Cascadian region represent. Think of them as hypothetical political parties within Cascadia. As you read this blog post, try to disassociate these groups from the existing federal political parties in the United States and Canada as they won’t fit nice and tidy with what we know today.

Why am I doing this? Because I think it’s a neat thought experiment. Also because I’m a bit of nerd and this is my idea of fun. Don’t judge.

Visualizing a Single Spectrum

There are two models most often used when visually demonstrating a political spectrum: a linear model where groups neighbor each other left-to-right on a single axis and a donut model where groups neighbor each other in a 360 degree pattern according to two perpendicular axes. Both can be useful, but neither is perfect.

The problem is that any group can shift their position on any visual model depending on what criteria is being used to define its placement. For example, one group may be left-of-center on a spectrum according to one set of criteria (i.e. economy) but right-of-center according to another (i.e. international relations).

In this blog post, I’ve settled on a linear average in which I evaluate each group according to five sets of criteria and average out their position on a single axis. This axis is an amalgamation of what is generally considered politically left-to-right.

The five sets of criteria I used to identify and evaluate the major groupings in Cascadia are as follows:

  • Economic policy, left wing being entirely socialist and right wing being entirely capitalist.
  • Domestic/Social policy, left wing being entirely liberal and right wing being entirely conservative.
  • Environmental policy, left wing being entirely protectionist and right wing being entirely consumptive.
  • International policy, left wing being entirely globalist and right wing being entirely isolationist.
  • State policy, left wing being entirely anti-statist and right wing being entirely nationalist.

Cascadia’s Political Groupings

After identifying the common spaces on the spectrum according to each of those five criteria, I came up with seven distinct political groupings which I believe would be distinct and visible in their own right if Cascadia was politically independent. A brief overview of each is as follows:

Social Anarchists (left wing) – Social Anarchists in Cascadia are anti-nationalist, anti-capitalist supporters of non-hierarchical local governance. They believe in organizing the entire bioregion using local cooperative power structures, free from the corruption present in any national body of governance. They believe in creating a system where people are freely allowed to move about and find which community works best for them. In doing so, they encourage communal values of empathy and tolerance to thrive so that all peoples can co-exist peacefully.

Social Anarchists in Cascadia are both isolationist in that they believe participating in the existing global nation-state paradigm is futile and globalist in that they wish to set an example for the world at-large to follow. They are also committed to absolute sustainability, understanding the protection of their environment as essential and a moral duty, so that local cooperatives can be both self-reliant and interdependent.

Greens (left) – Greens are half of, what I would call, the mainstream left within Cascadia. They are committed to environmental protection and sustainability as their top priorities. However, unlike the federal Green parties in the United States and Canada today, Cascadian Greens more prominently champion a wider range of issues usually prioritized by a social democratic group. Think of it as if Elizabeth May and Bernie Sanders came together to form a single political party.

Economically, Cascadian Greens range from being anti-capitalist to democratic capitalists and eco-capitalists; they want a responsible economy which always puts the rights of people and nature first. They’re socially liberal and aim to foster a region where all people are accepting of one another regardless of their innate differences, consistently pushing the boundaries of what’s “socially acceptable” according to traditional and prohibitive means of understanding the world.

Cascadian Greens believe in having a robust global community which works together to protect the planet’s resources. They’re pacifist to the greatest extent possible and always prefer the diplomatic option when resolving international conflict, even if it’s deemed weak or unpopular by a majority of others. They believe in the legitimacy of state power, especially when it comes to protecting the environment and the rights of minorities, but are generally wary or skeptical of national government. Cascadian Greens prefer devolution of political and economic powers to the most local levels possible.

Liberal Democrats (center-left) – Do not confuse this name with the Liberal Party in Canada or the Democratic Party in the US. I named this group as such because it has roots in classical and contemporary liberal philosophy, as well as a commitment to democratic principles.

Liberal Democrats are the other half of the mainstream left in Cascadia. Like Cascadian Greens, they are committed to environmental protection and sustainability. They are also socially liberal and believe that any individual should have the right to express themselves in any way so long as it does not cause direct harm unto another person(s). Unlike the Greens, however, they are generally more favorable of capitalism in some capacity and support initiatives like globalization and free trade.

Cascadian Liberal Democrats tend to be staunch federalists; they believe in power-sharing between national and local forms of government. They believe in the idea of a national state which exists to foster cooperation between local governments, protect the rights of minorities, and responsibly regulate economic markets. Internationally, they support a global community where countries work together to solve their issues, preferring to err on the side of diplomacy and other non-violent means to resolve disputes.

Libertarians (center-right) – Libertarians in Cascadia tend to derive their philosophy from tenets of classical liberalism. Socially, they believe a government of any kind should stay out of regulating the private lives of individuals, even if they themselves are personally reserved and find the expressions of another individual displeasing. They’re also staunchly capitalist and believe a government of any kind has little responsibility to manage or regulate commerce.

When it comes to the environment, Cascadian Libertarians believe in conservation and individual self-reliance. They believe in utilizing resources sparingly and wisely, although they tend to view environmental protection laws as unnecessary unless they derive from local government.

Cascadian Libertarians are generally anti-statist and believe the powers of any government should be extremely limited as to not infringe upon individual autonomy and the principle of voluntary association. They are also international isolationists, favoring a system where countries generally leave each other alone. They support military action for the purpose of self-defense only, preferring to not intervene when an international conflict arises elsewhere.

Conservatives (right) – Cascadian Conservatives can best be described as those who resist radical change and prefer a stable status quo. Socially, they tend to tolerate uncustomary expressions of individuality and diversity, but are willing to support laws to prohibit actions which they deem damaging to the greater public. Economically, they favor free market capitalism over government mandates or regulation in most cases.

Much like Cascadian Libertarians, Cascadian Conservatives believe in conservation and wisely utilizing the natural resources. Unlike the existing conservative parties in Canada and the US, they are more likely to support government action to protect the environment when the free market goes too far and gets reckless. This is seen as an act of protecting one’s home, preventing the local environment from radically changing.

Cascadian Conservatives favor federalism, allowing for many economic and political powers to be exercised by local governments while a national state addresses nationwide and international concerns. They favor non-intervention when it comes to participating in a global community, but are more willing than most other groups to use a military option to respond to international conflicts which affect the region.

Nationalists (right wing) – Unlike most other nationalist parties in the world which define their national identity by some auxiliary human characteristic (i.e. race, ethnicity, religion, language), Cascadian Nationalists tend to (but not always) be less racist and overtly skeptical of anyone who looks different than they do. However, they share many other commonalities with national political parties elsewhere.

Socially, Cascadian Nationalists favor tradition and are willing to use the power of government to prohibit individual actions they deem alien or undesirable. Economically, they are populists who support capitalism to an extent and are willing to use the force of government to limit the effects of globalization and immigration. Internationally, they prefer to be left alone, but have little reservation with intervening militarily in international conflicts which impact national interests.

Cascadian Nationalists support a strong national government over federalism or devolution; they often view federal or local solutions as inadequate and limiting, preferring to find national solutions which allow the country to thrive as one nation united in action. They favor some forms of environmental protection in terms of national duty, but are also most willing to consume whatever resources are necessary so the nation can thrive economically.

Survivalists (the void) – Cascadian Survivalists believe the existing civic and political power structures throughout the world are inevitably doomed and need to be resisted at all costs. They don’t want to change the status quo; they want to survive its collapse. If the Cascadian political spectrum were viewed as a donut, Survivalists would be between Nationalists and Social Anarchists in the void between the two. They don’t fit nicely on a linear model, but can be understood as far right wing for our purposes.

Cascadian Survivalists are your isolationist utopia seekers. They view the world in terms of absolutes and wish to create an isolated society within Cascadia to achieve their vision of civic perfection. They’re neither capitalist nor anti-capitalist. They’re neither conservative nor liberal. They’re neither environmentally protectionist nor consumptive. They believe in the legitimacy of their own community only and reject the authority of any other body politic which would otherwise incorporate them. As such, they are very hostile toward outsides and people who believe differently than they do.

Cascadia’s Political Groupings

After taking all of these groups and each set of criteria into account, I developed the following linear model for Cascadia:

Cascadian Political Spectrum

It’s not perfect; I’m sure some of you have altering groups, definitions, and/or criteria. But, I believe this is a fair representation of the different political groupings which currently exist in Cascadia, even if they aren’t obvious or currently recognized as such.

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today:

The Question of Cascadian Nationhood

Cascadia flag, Cascadian flag

The social and cultural awareness movement in support of Cascadia is both young and small. It is also still solidifying its foundation for support as there are wide ranges of opinions on what Cascadia actually is—in terms of more than just a physical location—and what it should be. One of the most contentious questions supporters within the Cascadia movement haven’t been able to agree upon yet is this: should Cascadia (and the Cascadian identity) be understood as a nation?

I, for one, believe yes, Cascadia should be understood as a nation and, thereby, Cascadian our nationality. I would like to take a few moments to explain why.

Nation ≠ Country

First, let me begin with clarifying the difference between a nation and a country, which confuses many in Canada and, more-so, the United States. A nation speaks to a common sense of belonging whereas a country or state simply refers to a collective body of some sort having a degree of control over public policy. A nation does not necessarily equate to a state or country. For many countries around the world, their citizens would consider themselves a nation as well as a state, but the two concepts are separate.

So, for those of you hesitant to claim Cascadia as a nation for the sole reason that you don’t support the idea of secession, you needn’t worry. You can, if you choose, embrace the Cascadian identity as your nationality while simultaneously rejecting the idea of secession.

The Old Definition of Nationhood

There are many different definitions of what constitutes a nation. All of them speak to one common notion: a shared sense of civic belonging. Where they differ is what comprises that shared sense. Many self-proclaimed nations around the world use a common trait in ethnicity, race, or religion as the basis for defining their nationhood. This is one way of understanding nationalism; it is not the only way of doing so.

If you are one who shares this understanding—that a nation is or should be defined by an auxiliary human construct such ethnicity, race, or religion—I would ask that you do the following: take that definition, metaphorically write it down on a piece of paper in your head, light it on fire, and watch it burn away into nothingness (in good Cascadian fashion, don’t actually waste a piece of paper doing this). We need to overcome this notion of what a nation is because, while it’s widely accepted in many other areas of the world, it’s worthless and very dangerous.

Nationhood speaks to a shared civic belonging: being a member of a shared society. When you use ethnicity, race, or religion as the defining qualifier of a nation, you’re saying that only persons which have this auxiliary characteristic belong within that society—that these persons and only these persons belong together because their ancestral bloodlines are common, or because the pigmentation of their skin is similar, or because the origin stories of their belief system are the same.

Furthermore, you’re saying that other persons who don’t share this one qualifying characteristic don’t belong in the same society solely because of reasons equal or similar to their great, great, great grandparents were born in a different region of the world, or their facial features look slightly different, or they have an alternative understanding of how the world came to be millennia ago.

You’re saying that society cannot function optimally or peacefully solely because of these reasons, as if someone’s ethnic, racial, or religious background is the ultimate determining factor in that person’s character, values, and general worth.

Any sane and sober-minded individual in the United States or Canada knows these assumptions are utterly false. We all know other individuals from all different racial, ethnic, or religious backgrounds that fit in and are just as valued members of society as any other. By defining a shared nationhood using these types of qualifiers, you’re saying this reality either isn’t possible or isn’t desirable (the latter being much, much worse than the delusion of the former).

Clinging to this old, arcane definition of a nation is what causes prejudice, hatred, and war. It needs to be destroyed, and quickly.

A Better Definition

What’s the alternative definition of nationhood that doesn’t rely on xenophobia or religious persecution to hold it together? A shared sense of civic belonging needs a focal point of some kind to be maintained; it cannot rely on nothing.

Cascadia’s shared sense of civic belonging has never come from race, ethnicity, or religion. Nor has it ever come from similar auxiliary characteristics such as language, political philosophy, or class. Cascadia’s shared sense of civic belonging has always centered on one aspect: the physical nature of the region itself. The region has always been the one factor which has held the common traits of Cascadian society together.

I believe bioregionalism—the notion that the environmental characteristics of a naturally-defined region play a defining role in shaping the identity of society—plays into the answer we’re looking for. This is not to say bioregionalism is equal to nationalism, but they are not mutually exclusive. Bioregionalism is an ecological concept which centers on the importance of environment whereas nationalism is a human concept which centers on the importance of community. They are different, but the definition of nationalism we need uses the concept of place and its power to give coherence to society.

In this sense, we can understand Cascadian nationhood as a civic concept in which the people of Cascadia voluntarily uphold and consent to the natural value of the Cascadian region itself. This is similar to the predominant form of American or Canadian nationalism in that they rely primarily on popular sovereignty rather than an auxiliary characteristic such as ethnicity. However, it differs in that Cascadia as a nation is permanently grounded in, and particular to, the physical bioregion of Cascadia itself and cannot expand past its bioregional borders.

By using this as our model, we can understand Cascadia as a nation where anyone in the region can adapt to our shared sense of civic belonging and regional culture by recognizing the importance of our natural region and staying true to its inherent, intangible value. A person of any race, ethnicity, religion, or similar characteristic can do this so long as they then choose to participate in Cascadian society in ways which uphold this value. Cascadian nationhood, in this sense, cannot be limited to a set of auxiliary human characteristics.

Addressing Structural Racism and Imperialism

You may be reading this and think it’s a nice ideal, but still be skeptical that this model of Cascadia as a nation can manifest itself in a just and egalitarian manner. You are right to be cautious, especially if you are a member of any historically marginalized group of people in the United States and/or Canada.

I’m a white male. I’ve benefited from living in a society which has largely given me the benefit of the doubt and allowed me to succeed in my own way to establish a comfortable life for myself. It’s very easy for me to sit behind a computer screen and write about this beautiful ideal without having been subjected to many of the injustices and structural obstacles present in our existing paradigm.

I, nor anyone else in my position, can fix this. What I can do—and what I think we all need to do if we’re to actually transcend the reality we know now—is acknowledge the impacts structural racism and imperialism (or colonization) has had in our society. More importantly, I and anyone else can help empower those who have been unjustly marginalized by listening to their stories and affirming their worth.

These are the steps we must take if we are to ever reconcile the society we have now with the society we wish to see in Cascadia, and that’s true regardless of what political ideology or belief system you hold. In doing so, we can establish a reality in which the marginalized aspects of various minority cultures are no longer feared, but are allowed to thrive in their own ways according to our bioregional nature and as a rich, equal part of Cascadian society.

The Answer We’re Looking For

The old definition of nationalism perpetuates a paradigm where members of one ethnic, racial, or religious group see persons of a differentiated group as “the other.” This is most prevalent, I believe, with indigenous peoples which currently live under a “nation within a nation” model. This allows for certain aspects of tribal sovereignty to be upheld, but it also allows a stark “us versus them” mentality to thrive. It allows persons of a marginalized group to suffer injustice while everyone else maintains indifference.

This reality was born out of fear, distrust, and violence. It does not have to be this way. We should strive for a new national model which fosters the opposite of this: unity, trust, and peace.

I am not claiming we remove the rights or entitlements marginalized groups have under the existing system, especially for indigenous groups who’ve been in Cascadia since long before anyone else showed up. What I am claiming is that, in order to achieve this new reality, we all must adapt a new understanding of what constitutes our shared sense of civic belonging; it comes from our bioregion.

By accepting this, we will foster a reality where we look at this region’s history, to the communities which have been here for thousands of years, and be able to connect with it—its people and values—regardless if we’re of the same bloodlines or not. As a non-indigenous person myself, I do not wish to cheapen or exploit this history; I wish to be able to embrace this history as my own because I am of this region.

The essence of Cascadia as a nation comes from Cascadia itself. By embracing Cascadian nationhood in this manner, we can collectively embrace our diversity, acknowledge the wrongdoings produced by harmful foundations, and focus on solutions based in our shared sense of place. This is why I believe in Cascadia as a nation and our shared sense of civic belonging.

Interested in learning more about Cascadia? You can buy your copy of Towards Cascadia today: