During the debate in Scotland, Reuters decided to poll Americans on secession. Remarkably, 25 percent responded that they'd be fine with secession, with positive responses spread evenly across all income brackets with one exception. Those in the over $150,000 bracket were less likely to respond affirmatively to the question. Interesting, isn't it?
For the past few weeks, as Scotland debated the wisdom of independence, Reuters has been asking Americans how they would feel about declaring independence today, not from the United Kingdom, but from the mother country they left England to create. The exact wording of the question was, “Do you support or oppose the idea of your state peacefully withdrawing from the United States of America and the federal government?”
It was hard to imagine many people would support secession. Forget the fact that the cautionary lesson of the Civil War is top of mind for many people as we commemorate its 150th anniversary; just in terms of dollars and cents, who in their right minds would give up all the money they’ve already paid into the Social Security and Medicare systems? Besides, most states get more back from the federal government than they put in.
Then the results came in. You can see them for yourself here, and you can filter them any way you want—by age, region, income, party affiliation, etc. Any way you slice it, the data are startlingly clear: Almost a quarter (23.9 percent) of those surveyed said they were strongly or provisionally inclined to leave the United States, and take their states with them. Given the polling sample — about 9,000 people so far—the online survey’s credibility interval (which is digital for “margin of error”) was only 1.2 percentage points, so there is no question that that is what they said.
Secession got more support from Republicans than Democrats, more from right- than left-leaning independents, more from younger than older people, more from lower- than higher-income brackets, more from high school than college grads. But there was a surprising amount of support in every group and region, especially the Rocky Mountain states, the Southwest and the old Confederacy, but also in places like Illinois and Kansas. And of the people who said they identified with the Tea Party, supporters of secession were actually in the majority, with 53 percent.
Well, you know what, tea party? I'm okay with that. Find yourselves a nice island somewhere and take the hell off. We don't need your billionaire-financed agitation, to be honest.
Gaines has a nice analysis of what it means for the country, and it isn't pretty.
Followup phone calls with a small, random sample of pro-secession respondents to the Reuters poll, however, suggest that while their wish to leave the union may not be quite what it appears, it is not amusing at all.
Those we spoke to seemed to have answered as they did as a form of protest that was neither red nor blue but a polychromatic riot — against a recovery that has yet to produce jobs, against jobs that don’t pay, against mistreatment of veterans, against war, against deficits, against hyper-partisanship, against political corruption, against illegal immigration, against the assault on marriage, against the assault on same-sex marriage, against government in the bedroom, against government in general — the president, Congress, the courts and both political parties.
By the evidence of the poll data as well as these anecdotal conversations, the sense of aggrievement is comprehensive, bipartisan, somewhat incoherent, but deeply felt.
This should be more than disconcerting; it’s a situation that could get dangerous. As the Princeton political scientist Mark Beissinger has shown, separatist movements can take hold around contempt for incumbents and the status quo even when protesters have no ideology in common.
The only part that's missing is the Billionaire Bucks fueling much of the discontent across the country. On any given day I will have 15-20 emails drop into my inbox from groups ranging from the RNC to Tea Party Nation, all with headlines intended to keep me angry, discontent, and driven by purity. Those didn't get generated by people working for free; they're paid for.
As long as discontent can be fomented, there is absolutely danger of it going out of control as Gaines describes. There's more danger from these types than any groups in Syria. Wouldn't it be nice if we actually had some reporting on that from our broadcast cable media?