Brandon Letsinger is the director of CascadiaNow, an organization that raises awareness of a regional identity—social, geographic, and cultural—in the Pacific Northwest. The organization defines Cascadia as a biological region bound by its environment rather than political borders: It starts as far south as Northern California, reaching up through Oregon and Washington into British Columbia and part of the western coast of Alaska.
Letsinger is more cautious about calling his cause an independence campaign outright. "Especially in the U.S.," he wrote to me in an email, "the term 'secession' has a heavy stigma and a deep cultural context." His movement, rather than aiming to create a separate political entity, is trying to get Pacific Northwesterners to tap into their identity as residents of that region rather than thinking of themselves as American or Canadian.
But he says he's been following the Scottish independence movement for some time. "If Scotland is successful, it will provide a clear pathway that is both peaceful and democratic, and rooted in a positive future and shared collective identity," Letsinger said. "That will have far-reaching impacts on other movements ... and we'll certainly be watching very closely."
League of the South
The League of the South advocates for a "free and independent Southern republic," according to its website. The organization paints blurry borders around its proposed nation-state, calling the 11 once-Confederate states, plus Kentucky and Oklahoma, the most convincing makeup of a "cohesive political South." The League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designates as a neo-Confederate hate group, claimed at one point recently to have 25,000 members.
Michael Hill, president of the organization, says he is watching the Scottish independence campaign closely. "We think it's a great thing that the Scottish people actually get to go to the polls and decide their future with a vote," Hill said. "That's something that I hope that we can do one day."
He said that the League of the South has learned a lot from the Scottish secessionists. The Scottish campaign has taken "full advantage" of technology and social media, attracting many young people to their side, Hill said. These are lessons that the League of the South has been implementing for almost a year, and as a consequence, Hill says he saw the average age of his membership drop from somewhere in the fifties to the thirties in just a few years.
Hill said that the success of the Scottish movement is likely have a positive effect on his own cause. Scottish independence will be "a brick out of the wall of centralization and the old idea of empire-building," he said.
He doesn't mind that an elected Scottish government will likely follow a brand of European socialism: "That's up to them—if that's what they want, that's what they should have." What matters to Hill is the victory of the principle of self-determination. "We support the Scots because we believe that every identifiable distinct people like that ought to be able to rule themselves," he said.