The recent San Francisco Chronicle article on a new state for the Oregon California border region reminded me of what happened in Puget Sound fifteen years ago.
Secession campaigns — forming new counties or states — have, since the Reagan era, been used as organizing drives to obtain lists of names and funds for right-wing agendas. Sometimes the spear-carriers, those who believe the hoax and get excited enough to threaten opponents, are looking for a windfall economic opportunity. But the only ones who usually profit from these bogus campaigns are the social movement entrepreneurs and their industry backers. What you’ll often see in their aftermath is a rightward or criminal shift in public policy rules and regulations as a result of the consolidation or seizure of political power.
Wise Use field agents in the 1990s in Washington state used county secession campaigns as a wedge against Growth Management. Much of their scapegoating focused on environmentalists and Native Americans. With GOP and resource industry backing, this escalated into militia organizing and ultimately the incarceration of eight individuals on firearms and explosives charges.