Whenever someone speaks to me about secession I think of the old southern Confederacy. That movement ended after a bloody Civil War.
Lately, secession has been bandied about from some unexpected quarters. There was a move in Texas to resurrect the old Texas Republic and a movement in California to break up that state into no less than six smaller states.
These secessionist movements were all pretty much based on a political agenda so I was surprised when some New York residents began talking about seceding from the Empire State for economic reasons.
Fifteen towns in Sullivan, Delaware, Broome, and Tioga counties are looking into seceding from the State of New York and joining the state of Pennsylvania. One reason given for the movement was Governor Andrew Cuomo’s move to ban in New York hydraulic fracturing, which is legal in Pennsylvania.
The folks living in Sullivan, Delaware, Broome, and Tioga counties are not fools. They know that a move into Pennsylvania would require the approval of both the New York and Pennsylvania legislature as well as federal approval.
In short, it isn’t going to happen.
Concurrently, groups of state legislators from Long Island and upstate New York introduced legislation to gauge support for partitioning the state.
It seems as though the folks upset with the fracking ban in New York are not the only ones who want to change things. Meanwhile, on Long Island, there have been calls for Nassau and Suffolk Counties to separate from New York State as well. Suffolk County comptroller and former state assemblyman Joseph Sawicki (a Republican) has called for a separation of Long Island from the rest of the state, saying that the region, one of the wealthiest in the state, receives only $5.2 billion in state payments and pays $8.1 billion in taxes to the state.
A parallel upstate New York statehood movement seeks separation due to taxation and economic concerns. Proposals often include excising Albany (and presumably the Hudson River Valley) along with New York City, due to a perception that Albany is primarily controlled by politicians from the New York City area. A separate but related movement only includes Western New York (and sometimes portions of Central New York and the Southern Tier) in the secession efforts as an independent state or commonwealth entitled “Niagara.”
That is a whole lot of discontent.
That wave of discontent is a sign that people in many parts of the nation are not satisfied with their representation.
Our own Sen. Joe Scarnati has been saying for years that the real battle in Harrisburg is not between the Republicans and Democrats but between urban and rural interests.
In state after state across the nation rural interest are being subverted to the desires of the mega cities. New Yorkers living in the Finger Lakes or on the Great Lakes know they cannot overcome the political power of New York City. I know several former upstate New Yorkers who left the state out of disgust for the political machine in Albany.
In our own state we live in the “T” which is the rural center of the state. We know the real power lies in the southeast and southwest in the urban centers. When they combine their strength there is no way the rural needs will be met.
The same is true in Illinois where everything is centered on Chicago. Western Marylanders are governed by the Baltimore cabal. Atlanta is the political center of Georgia and Boston is Massachusetts.
When New York’s Gov. Couomo unilaterally banned fracking, thus denying any potential wealth to property owners in the rural areas, he was simply catering to his urban base.
In our own state we see our new Governor following the same strategy as evidenced by his recent budget proposal. I believe Gov. Wolf may have passed through this region during the campaign but I don’t think he paid us a call. It was a smart strategy. He played to his base and he won. Now, he has to govern for all of the people including those who live in unincorporated villages.
The dissatisfaction we are witnessing is dangerous to the nation. When a large portion of the population is disaffected they are within their right to petition for change. If a new political reality is the only remedy, that is the path many are willing to take.
The era of the modern city states may soon be ending.