By Mike Bucaria
In an ad campaign, Long Island’s newspaper Newsday ran a satirical commercial pleading the case for Long Island’s nationhood.
This commercial stated that Long Island would be the 32nd largest state in the United States with a GDP larger than Kenya, Slovakia and New Zealand. Moreover, it would be rated within the top 150 countries in the world. But this was never meant seriously, and no one actually supports such an act.
In a less satirical way, this past election has brought about both sides of the sovereignty issue: citizens petitioning their states to secede, and citizens of Puerto Rico voting for statehood. It seems odd, that at the same time, after the same election, people are vocally supporting the exact opposite ideals.
In both instances, it seems that the governors and the people are not necessarily on the same page.
A CNN feature stated that Texas Governor Rick Perry, the state with the largest numbers of petitioning citizens, dismissed the notion en bloc. Without institutional support from a vocal opponent of the Democratic leadership, this “plan” cannot succeed.
In Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno, the pro-statehood governor lost his re-election bid, replaced by Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who prefers the current standing of Puerto Rico’s status.
Although Congress makes the final decision, support from the governor is still important for the opposing or undecided voters.
Nonetheless, even more than a disagreement between the petitioners and the governors, there is tremendous dissent between these movement’s supports, opponents and those who are officially unspoken.
The media slam against the southern secessionists speaks for itself, but political analysis further south in Puerto Rico has gone largely unnoticed.
The quantity of voters in the Nov. 4 vote on Puerto Rico’s status is the subject of much speculation. Considering the “64 percent support” figure suggested is a percentage of those who voted, the hundreds of thousands who left that box blank are not included in this inflated statistic.
The Huffington Post interviewed a political science professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Angel Israel Rivera Ortiz, who said: “Statehood won a victory without precedent but it’s an artificial victory. It reflects a divided and confused electorate that is not clear on where it’s going.”
A “confused electorate” seems to be the common denominator. I will say bluntly that secession is absurd. Many reports on this situation cite the “legal impossibility,” however that is not the issue at hand, since true necessity could circumvent legal obstacles.
But the issue is the same as the shifting stances of the Republican party. Instead of focusing inward on re-election, there are more polarizing, more conservative positions which, in turn, are more alienating.
The quintessence of absurdity in right wing ranting (not Republican, just simply crazy) is Glenn Beck, who is, in fact, still around. Beck’s most recent media appearance was his admonition that Americans (his address is specifically to like-minded people) should buy guns and farmland following President Obama’s re-election. No further commentary is needed, as this speaks for itself.
If the whole opposition to secession could be boiled down into one argument, it would be that to secede would cut down on federal aid. Louisiana and Alabama, two states in which citizens have petitioned for succession, receive $1.45 and $1.71 for every dollar paid in taxes, respectively.
For their best interest, these citizens should focus on getting their representative elected instead of wanting to start over from scratch, with the likely possibility of future dissatisfaction. The vast majority of the Republican Party is not like this, so this is an embarrassment to the party that does not see things quite as irrationally as portrayed by a minority of Republicans.
I think the blame for all of this should fall on the Republican National Committee. The resounding defeat of Republican senators in swing states happened where a “Tea Party” Republican dominated the primary but lost the general election.
Analysis has summarized the phenomenon to suggest that Tea Party candidates do well in primaries but are almost unelectable in many districts because although they galvanize the Republican primary voters, they equally alienate everyone else.
For example, former RNC chairman Michael Steele raised $198 million for the GOP, won 63 seats in the House in a midterm election and helped win 600 legislative seats around the country (as stated in his interview with Jon Stewart, this past Aug.30), but was replaced with Reince Priebus, under whose leadership this election erupted in the Republicans’ hands.
For the record, I saw this election as a loss, not because of the result, but because I disliked both candidates. That being said, the Republican Party needs to reevaluate its position.
The only way to win elections is to appeal to voters outside your demographic, which for Republicans is old, white men.
The party needs to realize that radicalizing cannot win swing states, and the vocal minority needs to realize that secession is not a solution. Maybe the lessons will be learned by 2016.