Venice voted for independence. No, not Venice Beach, Calif., the capital of alternative lifestyles, but Venice, Italy, the capital of alternative method of transportation. The gondola-traveling Venetians, by an overwhelming margin, decided last month that they would prefer to go it alone without the rest of Italy weighing them down like so much unnecessary ballast. In a week-long vote conducted online, 89 percent of the participants hit the “like” button for independence. It's no surprise that the referendum is considered non-binding by the political bosses in Rome who enjoy the cash flow from the relatively prosperous Veneto region. Time will tell if the Venetians will stand firm by treating Italy's tax demands as non-binding as well.
Other areas of Italy and of Europe are also queuing up for independence bids. My favorite scheme is the Italian island of Sardinia breaking free and then joining up with Switzerland. At first, it sounds counter-intuitive like a fried peanut butter/banana sandwich, but hey, that concoction worked for Elvis so maybe such a political union would work out for the Swissdinians. And, there would finally be a way for the Swiss to have a Navy. On a more respectable secession note, Scotland has been given permission by London to have an independence vote this September and the Scots only had to wait 300 years for that privilege. The Crimeans on the other hand, only had to wait for some Russian tanks to put them in the express secession checkout line from Ukraine.
Independence/secession can be a troubling concept. The underlying premise is the right of self-determination. “We, the people” is well and good as long as it is kept in the abstract. Our civil war could be described as a second war of independence and probably would have been if the southern states prevailed. The American Revolution was also a secessionist movement against the existing union. Though colonists fought on both sides, narratives of the conflict conveniently omit “civil war” as a description. History and politics have a tendency to become more ambiguous upon closer examination.
I consider the smallest of social units, the family and the individual as the ultimate sources of self-determination. In lieu of that, any step down in government size is a step up in quality. Though the United States has been federalized to a great extent, there are still elements of political diversity in the individual 50 states. People can and do vote with their feet as to what kind of government they prefer. Companies form or relocate in different states or even other countries based on taxes and regulations. Many tout the virtues and advantages of local involvement from commerce to culture but still believe that bigger is better when it comes to government. Oh sure, local government is fine for small stuff, but it takes those smarter, special people miles and miles away to really mess up our lives.
So, in keeping with the theme of non-binding referendums, I suggest that Western Carolina should consider secession, at least from Raleigh. This isn't a new idea, but we are living in new times. "We are only at the Big Bang of the movement,” as one Italian separatist has described it. From refrigerator magnets to license plates, there are a lot of financial opportunities that come with the formation of a new state. Flag businesses in particular should be spearheading the push for Western Carolina statehood, especially if that Venice thing doesn't pan out.