• A Modest Political Proposal

    By Peter Lunenfeld

    The political arithmetic of the 2016 presidential election is not looking good for the losers. New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle voted above rates of 70%, and in some precincts as high as 90%, against the Russian Enabled Winner of the Electoral College (REWEC seems more appropriate than POTUS). The inverse was true in Midwestern farm counties, Southern hamlets, Appalachian hollows, and Arizona suburbs. So with urbanites leaning one way, and the rest of the country the other, what are our united states to do?

    If gerrymandering, plutocratic super-PACs, voter suppression, and right-wing-nuttery have rendered the nation as we inherit it no longer viable, then we need to return to the notion of the city-state. This will redefine real citizens as those who live in the civis — the city itself. After all, as the great urbanist Jane Jacobs pointed out, it is cities that generate the great wealth of nations, not the other way round.

    The proposal, therefore, is that America look back, not to the 1950s, but instead to the 1450s, when the Hanseatic League was Making Late Medieval Germany Great Again. This Teutonic model fits with the Aryan cast of the coming administration and its online, neo-Nazi enablers. The Hanseatic League united the trading towns of the Baltic and North Seas, and was named after the hansas, or troop convoys, that protected their merchants as they traveled from one city to another through the hostile, ignorant and unforgiving territories between them.

    So it is that in a radical Declaration of Interdependence, the USA will be divided, with its major urban centers forming the United city-States of America, or UcSA for short, while the vast plains, corn-filled fields, and suburban parking lots will be left as the Old States of America, or Ole’SA, populated by an angry, aging demographic (known up until this point simply as Fox News viewers). The UcSA acknowledges the yeoman farmer and the grizzled rancher, but refuses to grant them political primacy. Instead, the UcSA takes inspiration from our founding civic fathers like Philadelphia’s greatest son, Benjamin Franklin, an actual climate scientist (well, lightning, at least); Boston’s Samuel Adams, because craft beer; and New York’s own Alexander Hamilton, finally back on Broadway.

    Nine of the ten states with the highest inflow of federal assistance were in the Original Confederacy, and the UcSA will finally liberate these Southerners from the shackles of Red State Socialism, relieving them from their dependency on the patriotic citizens of places like New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, California, and New York — all mightily urban. The UcSA’s emergent city-states will trade for food and energy, as they always have, and even the occasional Hank Williams or Patsy Cline rarity on ‘78 vinyl. But, truth be told, there’s not much else the cities need from their suburbs and ever-more hostile bread and rust belts.

    It’s the 21st century, of course, so travel won’t be by convoy. Instead, Elon Musk’s supersonic, vacuum-tube, hyperloop capsules will save the new citizens from driving behind diesel pickups belchin’ smoke and rollin’ coal. The future belongs to those zipping between affinity-driven city-states, their trade routes and travels creating four-dimensional tessaracts of innovation, wealth creation, diversity, and sanctuary.

    Leading this 4-D conglomeration is New Angeles, whose civic motto is “Coastal Elites, You Betcha.” New Angeles unites bagel-eating brokers on Broadway with carb-fearing screenwriters doing yoga on Venice Beach. The Banking-Entertainment Post-Industrial Complex, or rather (((Banking-Entertainment Post-Industrial Complex))) (((because Jews))), ensures that capital flows to the capitals and that Kevin James sitcoms are broadcast directly to Ole’SA, leaving more room in UcSA’s broadband infrastructure for Transparent and Atlanta.

    Joining New Angeles as the other apex predator is Tron, composed of San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston. Tron offers great sports franchises, world-class universities and spin-off IP, and a fair amount of rain. Embossed on the civic seal are the immortal words, “There’s an App for That.” If there are any trade wars with Ole’SA, the threat of no more software upgrades should break it, allowing the mustachioed urban providers of New Angeles and Tron access to the eggs they need to craft artisanal mayonnaise and other such staples of SOMA, DUMBO, and DTLA.

    Fleecetown binds together a maple-flavored covenant of tolerance from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, with hubs in Burlington, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and Boulder. They are too polite to argue with the motto sneeringly applied to them, “Put a Bird on It.”

    Atlantis uses electric Tesla submarines to link the soon-to-be-underwater cities of Miami, New Orleans, and Honolulu. Atlantis celebrates its exciting climate and aquaculture with the civic motto, “Making Lemonade Out of Lemons.”

    Safespace bundles the isolated and bullied college towns of Austin, TX; Ann Arbor, MI; Madison, WI; Charlottesville VA; Athens GA; and Bloomington, IN, in a direct direct-democracy, which has delayed the rollout of an official motto (too patriarchal), leaving “DON’T TRIGGER ON ME” as their version of the Gadsden flag.

    There’s still jockeying going on prior to Interdependence Day on April 1st, 2017. Milwaukee and Detroit would like to form an Iron Triangle with Chicago, but the City of Big Shoulders is miffed it wasn’t asked to join New Angeles (or at least have O’Hare transform into a major HyperloopHub). Washington, D.C., Atlanta, San Diego, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia are thinking about forming an unaligned block, sending their own ambassadorial contingents to the newly empowered Council of Mayors.

    This modest proposal reworks Cory Lewandowski‘s Trumpist diktat: don’t take the UcSA literally, but do take the UcSA seriously. It also suggests that in the great divide, Ole’SA can have Taylor, but UcSA gets Jonathan Swift.