Monday, January 22, 2018

The Formation of the Confederation of Northwest North America

From our vantage point of 2100, the formation of the Confederation of Northwest North America was not at all inevitable or unavoidable.  A series of overreaching moves within the political and media elites of the United States of America and the Dominion of Canada, and increasingly severe cultural divisions between Western and Midwestern states and provinces combined with fortuitous individual decisions of the officials and the polities which they represented created this major realignment of political structures in North America during the 20th century.

The proximate cause was the breathless discovery by the USA's scandal-seeking news media that many of the DC political players were frequenting "dating clubs" that advertised themselves as "relive your high school dates."   These clubs provided escorts that were claimed to all be adults pretending to look like the "girls you dated in high school or junior high" but were in many cases clearly not adults.  Legal challenges soon led to New York v. High School Dates, Inc. (2050) in which Justice Williams wrote that: "The right to a fulfilling relationship regardless of popular disgust and irrational prejudice precludes state enforcement of laws that deny the right of minors to make their own choices of sexuality and employment."  The associated decision, Minneapolis Mosque Association v. Minnesota (2050)  (also known as the "What Did Mohammed Do?" case) struck down state laws setting minimum marriage ages; it was decided on First Amendment free exercise of religion grounds.  Popular outrage in much of the USA was derided on CNN and MSNBC as evidence of narrow-minded puritanism of the sort that criticized same-sex marriage and transgender bathrooms a generation before.

As the extent to which coastal populations took this as just another expansion of freedom from the closemindness of "flyover country" (a term now largely out of date, derived from a  1976 New Yorker cover titled the View of the World From 9th Avenue, but used before the Wars of Secession to refer to the perceived contempt of non-coastal America by coastal elites), some state legislatures compared it to the Dred Scott (1856) decision, which imposed, to quote the North Dakota Secession Resolution of 2051 "a single national definition of a despicable practice as a constitutionally guaranteed right on every state in the Union."

Popular sentiment fueled by increasingly vigorous and vituperative discussions on social media soon put pressure on many state legislatures to demand either a constitutional amendment overturning High School Dates and similar decisions limiting state legislative sovereignty dating back into the 1970s, or secession.  News media continued to describe these efforts as "deplorables showing their racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny."  This simply raised the level of upset, comparable to Hilary Clinton (D)'s characterization of 1/4 of Americans as "deplorables" that led to the Administrations of Donald Trump (2016-2024) and then Ivanka Trump (2024-2032).

When Texas Gov. James "Jimbo" Jorgensen signed the secession statute in late 2051, he was only slightly leading the curve.  Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas and many other Midwestern states did so shortly thereafter.  All promised reunification if the USA would add to the U.S. Constitution what became known as the "Federalism, and We're Serious About It This Time" provision.

Unsurprisingly, the national government (no longer called the federal government by the seceding states because it was no longer federal at all, but a unified national government) demanded immediate rescission of these statutes and an end to state and local harassment of national law enforcement agents, many of whom had been arrested for being agents of a foreign government attempting to violate rights of citizens of the various states.  Failure to comply soon led to to the sending of Army units into the state capitals to arrest governors and legislators for treason.  Governors called up state National Guard units that ignored federalization orders and remained loyal to their state as well as unorganized militias to defend the state governments.  Facing 15,000 riflemen, tanks from the Texas National Guard, and dozens of small aircraft dropping Molotov cocktails on I-35 near Round Rock, Col. Ray Stefanovich decided that while victory could be his, the loss of life would likely be a PR disaster and withdrew.

Similar issues occurred when federalized California National Guard units attempted to seize the Nevada state government in Carson City.  The bridges leading east from Truckee were blocked with gasoline trucks filled with hardening cement and cemented to the road surface.  Nevada militias and Nevada National Guard units kept up a sufficient firestorm to prevent California National Guard units from using alternate routes.  Admittedly these units were largely manned by persons sympathetic to the secession movement, and they may not have tried very hard to complete their mission.

Coastal states joined in the orgy of denunciation of the rebels.  California pledged its undying loyalty to the cause of Progressive Union until April 15, 2052 when most of the low-population counties of the north and eastern edges of the state as well as many of the San Joaquin Valley counties declared themselves to be Northeastern California.  Gov. Francis "Fabulous" Hernandez ordered the California National Guard to arrest the ringleaders in these counties, but for some odd reason, most National Guard units were located in Northeastern California and the phones rang, but no one answered.

The USA had decommissioned most of the nuclear warhead ICBMs as part of the Iran Bilateral Denuclearization Pact of Pres. Chelsea Clinton's ill-fated 2032-2036 Administration in which Israel was destroyed by dozens of smuggled 400 kiloton bombs, followed by the surprising incineration of Qom and Tehran.  Military bases in the seceding states generally sided with the surrounding state, sometimes because of identification by servicemembers and sometimes because of starvation, as these bases were blockaded.  In a few cases, such as Nellis Air Force Base during Las Vegas, commanders loyal to the USA were informed by their subordinates that their services were no longer required at this work location.

The secession of Northeast California could have been resolved easily with paratroops and bombing raids, but most of these counties had low density populations and terrain well-suited toi guerilla warfare.  Many of the ringleaders were former Special Forces with bumper stickers like, "Dysfunctional vet--don't bother me."  The costs in money and PR made such efforts impractical. 

The remaining counties of California, the ones with the stunning views of the Pacific, were soon given a new name.  In Tweets, press releases and videos on the newly created website, "FreeTube," officials of Northeast California claimed that they owned the rights to California and that the counties of millionaires, $400,000 a year software engineers who could not afford houses, and their desperately poor domestic help, should be called the State of Granola: Fruits, Flakes, Nuts and Pretense.

Those stunning views of the Pacific?  You can't drink salt water.  Northeast California gave San Francisco and Los Angeles 30 days notice: "We hope you have big stockpiles of Evian.  We are closing the taps from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and the Owens Valley."  While the California Aqueduct itself was unaffected, notice was served that Northeast California was now the primary use of the water behind Shasta Dam and Oroville Dam.  Silicon Valley pronounced itself up to the task of providing desalinization plants for the coast, but without the electricity from Hoover Dam and other hydroelectric plants now in Northeast California it was going to take a lot of photovoltaic panels.  A few weeks of empty pools, brown lawns, and Mexican gardeners dying of heat stroke suddenly reminded Granola why they needed to negotiate a friendly relationship with their neighbor upslope.    (The absence of warehouses of Evian soon drove 10% of Granola's remaining rational people into other states.)  Attempts were made to bring the rebel counties back into the Golden State, but after decades of being treated with contempt, the "deplorables" were disinclined to believe promises from Sacramento.

California also shared a problem with Oregon and Washington (both of which soon had calved into Eastern Oregon and Portlandia, and Eastern Washington and Western Washington).  Both had substantial international trade, but were also highly dependent on markets in the Eastern USA.  Steel and computers could be transported by ship, but produce going to the other loyal coast needed rail or truck transport.  The seceded states refused commercial air transport rights and taxed all goods travelling by truck and rail.  This provided the revenues needed on a short-term basis to operate these governments formerly dependent on federal funds.  Hydroelectricity from Bonneville Dam was suddenly much more expensive.  As Eastern Washington's Gov. Jerry Allen explained, "Hydro power is bad for the fishes.  We get that.  Okay, find your green replacement.  We can find other customers."

The Dominion of Canada's breakup had slightly less sordid aspects.  The prairie provinces had long resented Ontario's arrogant virtue signalling about energy and to a much lesser degree, the national firearms laws.  But the decision of the national government to implement a separate shari'a legal systems for Muslims seems to have been the camel's backbreaking straw.  The simultaneous  dissolution of the USA gave ideas to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.  Again, the oil and wheat fields gave them leverage with the eastern provinces, and being the only trade path from British Columbia gave them power similar to Eastern California's grip on Granola.

Alaska had long sustained an unrealistic independence movement, limited by the reality that you can see an aggressive Russian bear from Alaska.  Negotiations soon opened with the newly freed states and provinces.  (Texas decided it was too isolated by Colorado and New Mexico to join, and was big enough by itself.)  Yukon Territory, nearly as cantankerously independent in attitude as Alaska, joined in, bringing its uranium deposits and the Northwest Territories.

The Confederation Convention met January 1-20, 2053.  The final Confederation Treaty (intentionally not called a Constitution because the USA's Constitution had turned out to be a straitjacket for Godzilla very strongly declared that "All matters of internal civil and criminal law are the prerogatives of the people and their elected legislatures.... Interstate commerce refers only to the movement of goods that cross state borders." While creating a government explicitly and ad infinitum referred to as a federal government, the powers were severely limited to foreign trade and policy and disputes between the states.  Reflecting the issues that drove the dissolution of the USA, no lifetime federal judiciary werre dreated.


  1. That was fun!

    It sure would be nice if we could get to that last paragraph sooner than your timeline has it, though, where:

    "All matters of internal civil and criminal law are the prerogatives of the people and their elected legislatures.... Interstate commerce refers only to the movement of goods that cross state borders." While creating a government explicitly and ad infinitum referred to as a federal government, the powers were severely limited to foreign trade and policy and disputes between the states."

    'Tis devoutly to be wished!

  2. Jon: Set in future. Part of the setup for the space novel that I am slowly writing.