Oops, they did it again. Five GOP state senators have introduced a bill calling for a statewide referendum on separating.
Some Democrats are outraged, pointing out (rightly) how cynically Republicans have grandstanded in the past with such fantasy talk, often dragging out the false old “NYC Welfare Queens” canard. However, downstate and national Democrats including Peter Vallone and Leon Panetta have talked the same smack and nobody on our side was batting an eyelash.
You cannot take these noises seriously, and yet for all their surface ridiculousness, they seem expressive of something. In the past, they may have been hoary cynical grandstanding ploys, but today the divide is not just cultural, it is economic (as we have been saying for years now). What if there’s something there for reasonable people to consider? If there isn’t anything, then the idea should go away until another attention-seeking pol rediscovers it. If there is something…
My own evolving thoughts on separation can be traced in past posts such as:
Who Ya Gonna Call? in which I extended the “bad marriage” metaphor maybe to the breaking point;
3 Upstate Conversation Killers, which looked at ways that we talk ourselves out of talking amongst ourselves;
and more recently, Splitter! in which I wondered about who would run (wreck?) a post-separation New York.
But, not to get too far ahead of things, or even to take them so seriously at face value, I think we could at least identify three core starter questions in response to this “motion”:
1) Does One New York really exist? (and if so, why does the concept remain such a hard sell?)
2) Is Upstate politically and economically ready for prime time, ready to control its own affairs without undue outside influence? (my feeling is “no”)
3) Even if it’s wrong to instigate it, should we think about preparing for eventual separation? (After all, if downstate politicians — louder and endowed with bigger media organs — wanted to start a downstate secession movement, they could probably get people lathered up about it pretty easily. And then wouldn’t Upstaters have to face the same questions about independence anyway…?)
Would reasonable people try to answer these questions?