Saturday, November 5, 2016


New York is a funny state. Up here in the Hudson Valley, on the west side of the mighty mighty river, I have seen maybe half a dozen Trump signs and zero (0) Hillary signs. As one looks at the map of New York's 62 counties, I would guess just 8 will definitely go Hillary. You might think that Trump was right when he said that New York, his home state, really is in play.


Those 8 counties---Kings, Queens, New York, Suffolk, Bronx, Nassau, Westchester, and Albany---together have more people in them that the other 54 combined. It's 10,337,432 vs. 7,895,192. The Hillary counties, which except for Albany are all downstaters, typical make electoral decisions that pee in the cornflakes of the 54 northern counties. I mean, it's not like New York's state government is really successful at anything they try, except corruption and graft, but when there's someplace that's going to get specifically screwed, like industries being regulated to death or taxed into fleeing, with the usual unemployment and squalor to follow, you can bet it's places like Buffalo's Erie County that are going to get it.

There's actually a movement afoot---maybe more of an angry gesture than a movement---to divorce all those downstate counties from the rest of the state and be free of the majority rule. New Amsterdam would be an autonomous region, but still part of the state, with "a token state government to comply with the US Constitution." It'd look like this:

They're trying to get a ballot initiative on it next year. The problem is that even if they do, the whole state will undoubtedly have to vote on it, and how do you think that'd go?

Hint: 10,337,432 vs. 7,895,192.

And New Yorkers will note that tiny downstate Rockland County is not being allowed into New Amsterdam, so maybe they're as bad as Westchester. Rockland's small in size but 13th in population, at 317,702, so if they vote with the other downstaters that makes the imbalance against upstaters even worse. Plus, Albany and its surrounding counties (Schenectady, Renssalear, Schoharie) are too invested in state government to want to see this split happen, so that's probably five out of 54 upstate counties that wouldn't go for it anyway.

And even if it were to be accomplished, it wouldn't affect national elections unless the state also split its electoral votes the way Maine and Nebraska do.

But I don't see that or anything else that might threaten the current power structure happening. Americans started to give away power and authority more than a century ago to help the needy and oppressed; little by little we lost a sense of the importance of our autonomy, trading it in for protection from big bad life. As if there were no downside imaginable to that.

During the early days of the War on Terror, President Bush's opponents liked to deploy that Ben Franklin quote, that "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." But we'd already been doing it for a hundred years.

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