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Author Topic: Number of Regions/Regional Governments (DEBATE CLOSED)  (Read 38782 times)
Unconditional Surrender Truman
Harry S Truman
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« on: October 08, 2015, 12:09:48 pm »

There are obviously a number of changes that ought to be made to our current Regional system; however, our first step must be to strike out the existing text entirely. A piecemeal repair job, consisting of changing a few lines of text and crossing out an odd phrase here and there, will do little to remedy the malaise afflicting our current Republic.

As such, I offer the following amendment to the current text:

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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2015, 04:25:48 pm »

To quote Jefferson, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes," and in that vein I cannot support Evergreen's amendment. Giving the Regions the right to unilaterally withdraw from the Union, without placing a single restriction on how this might be done, completely upends the balance of power in a federal system. Not only does this proposal make for a very unstable Republic (the E.U., the Holy Roman Empire, and the U.S. under the Articles of Confederation all come to mind), it would effectively castrate the national legislature, allowing a majority of one Region to block legislation with the threat of separation.

On top of that, it is unclear to me why any Region would need a right to secede. With all due respect to the NNP, talk of the "cultural heritage" of the Regions is absurd: these are imaginary divisions created by posters on an online forum, a fair number of whom don't even live in their Atlasian Region IRL. Unlike the 13 Colonies or French Indochina, no Region has been deprived of the right to representation in the government, nor has any been forced to join Atlasia against their will. Maybe, if the president decides to declare himself dictator or the army leads a coup, there might hypothetically be a need for separation, but those instances are hardly commonplace enough to necessitate Constitutional protections (and in any case, a would-be dictator isn't likely to respect the Constitution).
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2015, 07:40:27 pm »

I would caution my fellow delegates against becoming fixated on a single aspect of the Regional system so early in the Convention. I don't discount the important of answering the secession question, but it's hardly the only issue before us.

Judging from the conversation in this thread, this seems to be where we stand at the moment:
- A majority support 3-Region consolidation
- An even split between those who favor a right to secede, those who oppose it, and those who want to make sure the process is carefully regulated
- No word on devolving more powers to the Regional governments

It makes the most sense to settle the issues we agree on first: therefore, I suggest that our next move (after my amendment to strike the current text has been adopted/rejected) be to settle on a map. For reference, here is the map adopted by the CARCA a few weeks ago, submitted by Griffin:



Assuming we go with a three-region system, how does everyone feel about this proposal?
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2015, 08:07:42 pm »

I personally believe that the Midwest should go with the Mideast and the Pacific with the South. Why would you put two failing regions together you would get a giant barely thriving region. It doesn't make sense to put two failing regions together and then expect them to thrive, if you put a failing region together and a thriving one you will get a even more thriving region.

Personally, I'm wary of tying our new Regional map too closely to today's demographics. A merged South-Pacific, for example, would consist of ~23 states, including PR, while the Northeast would still have 10. At present, the vast majority of active citizens reside in and around New England and the Great Lakes, but who's to say it will be like that a year from now? It would be unfortunate to have to call another ConCon in two years because we bet on demographics remaining the same forever.

Griffin made a good point during the CARCA meetings that I think bears repeating: it's highly unlikely that active citizens are going to stay squeezed together in one region when there are opportunities to win office and effect legislation elsewhere. If each region only has 5 or 6 offices, ambitious citizens aren't all going to crowd into the Northeast when they could take advantage of a vacancy in, say, the South. The reason this isn't happening now is that there are so few active citizens compared to the number of offices; if we simultaneously reduce the number of positions and Regions, however, we should see the population balance out.

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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2015, 02:02:57 pm »

AYE.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2015, 02:44:03 pm »

I think it's the 100th or so that I hear independence from a region to be something that would "revitalise" the game, and I fail to see convincing evidence supporting that. If anything, it's the "muh secession" mentality that seems a bit out of touch considering there is little point for the union to be broken in a whim.

And so I ask again, why do we need seccession? What do we gain from it?

Yeah, the argument for secession is pretty poor all around. As Duke pointed out, the theoretical argument for secession is weak to begin with, and claims that secession would spark increased activity just doesn't match up with reality. Oakvale and others have been pushing for Northeast independence for months now, yet this has not led to a significant increase in activity (the Northeast is active, yes, but this has little to do with with the secession movement). It's much more likely that secession would actually cause the game to collapse, as independent Regions would have smaller pools of active voters than a united Republic.

Furthermore, if you believe that Atlasia is already dead, you frankly shouldn't be here.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2015, 03:54:04 pm »

We cannot be constantly tearing down and rebuilding the union at the whim of 51% of one Region. This is a recipe for disaster, and would likely destroy both Atlasia and the recently-separated Regions. As Duke said, there's nothing to stop people from starting up a new nation outside of Atlasia (such as South America or the Papal Patch), but allowing them to compromise our territorial integrity is a very bad idea. No Region was forced to join Atlasia against its will, nor has any been deprived of the right to self-government - there is literally no reason they would need to separate from the Republic, except in desperate pursuit of a momentary activity buzz.

If you think that the Regions should be entirely self-governing, fine: reestablish the Articles of Confederation and abandon the federal system entirely. Otherwise, we need to recognize that the whole point of a federal union is its permanence, and any attempt to weaken this is will result in an unworkable government.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2015, 04:07:53 pm »

Oakvale and others have been pushing for Northeast independence for months now, yet this has not led to a significant increase in activity (the Northeast is active, yes, but this has little to do with with the secession movement).

grossly inaccurate, as usual, mr senator.

you see, very nearly 3/4 of legislative activity in the northeast over the past month comes from pro-independence legislators. and 60% of it comes from clyde and myself, both of whom have made it clear that we will resign if the referendum fails.

The fact that the most active members of the Northeast Assembly support secession does not prove that secession leads to greater activity: it merely proves that most active lawmakers are secessionists. The foremost leaders of the independence movement - yourself, Clyde, Oakvale, DemPGH - were active citizens long before secession was proposed. If you want to prove that secession leads to increased activity, you need to demonstrate that the Independence referendum has brought new voters to Atlasia, and this is clearly not the case.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2015, 11:05:04 am »

NAY!

I commend Never Again for trying to stake out the middle ground, but as PiT said, trying to regulate secession is a useless endeavor. We either need to outlaw secession (as we have already done) or go to a confederation system and scrap federalism entirely.

And seriously, guys, do we really need five amendments outlining secession protocol? This is hardly the biggest issue facing us, yet for a week now the Convention has been paralyzed by what promises to be an endless debate. As Winfield said, it's time to move on. If we can't do that, I would recommend voting on the remaining secession amendments all at once (STV style) so that we can settle this issue once and for all.

I'd love to hear what Classic and those who back his amendment have to say about America's independence,
I would refer you to a line in the Declaration of Independence that supporters of the right secession seem to have forgotten about:

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In 1776, the 13 American Colonies had been deprived of their right to self-government, forced to comply with laws passed without their consent, placed under the rule of an occupying army, and attacked by their own king's soldiers. Even then, their right to secede from the British Empire was not protected by law: they had to fight for it.

Essentially, this is my view of the secession question:

1. Separation is allowable when, and only when, the rights of the seceders (life, liberty, property, self-government) have been infringed on by the national government. Even then, the people in question should seek to remedy the situation within the existing structure of government (as did the citizens of the 13 Colonies) before seeking independence.
2. If the national government is deliberately violating Constitutional protections of the rights of the people, it will probably not be inclined to obey the part of the Constitution allowing secession.
3. Thus, the only time a Constitutional right to secession would be respected is when it is not needed, making this passage worthless.

In short, are there times when it is necessary to rebel against governmental authority? Yes. In those times, however, legal rights are virtually meaningless. The only government that will respect a Constitutional right to secession is an honest government, and if the government is honest, there is no need to secede.

I can hear the proponents of secession in the gallery now, crying out that banning secession violates their right to self-determination. This simply is not so. The Right to Self Determination, as expressed in the U.N. Charter, was devised to express support for oppressed peoples and nationalities trying to overthrow despotic regimes. There is a big difference between the people of Ireland separating from Britain, which had established control over them without their consent, and the people of the Northeast, who entered into this Union willingly, separating from Atlasia because they are bored.

I'd like to examine an argument often used by the proponents of secession: the idea of the Constitution as a contract between sovereign states (or Regions). If this is indeed so, then the Union is indeed inseparable, for one party cannot declare a contract void without the consent of the other parties. If I enter into a contract with Leinad, wherein I agree to help him govern the South and he agrees to help me represent my constituents in the Senate, I cannot decide to void that contract without his consent. Doing so would undermine the very premise of the agreement and would irreparable harm my reputation in the eyes of all who know me.

Governments draw strength and prestige from their perpetuity. If we insert a clause into our Constitution saying, in effect "The national government is in charge, until it isn't," who will believe that Atlasia is any longer one of the world's great powers? Who will believe that we have the internal unity and the outward strength to take a leading role in world affairs, or indeed to be believed at all? The proponents of secession say it will repair our international reputation, but I see no reason why the Beijing or the Kremlin would be inclined to respect us if we declare that the national government may be dissolved at any time by the whim of 51% of one-third (or fifth) of the country.

Lastly, from a more practical standpoint, cleaving this Union in half (particularly if one of the halves is the Northeast) will effectively kill Atlasia. We do not have the necessary interest at this time to sustain simultaneously two national governments. In the event of secession, one of the resulting countries will almost certainly collapse within a short time of the separation (would anyone argue that the nation could survive right now without the Northeast?), therefore killing the only potential lasting change independence would bring: diplomatic relations.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2015, 11:28:01 pm »

Again, and this is applicable as a response to what Senator Truman said and a reminder to everyone, this is NOT just about the current Northeastern independence movement. Truman and others seemingly think it is, but it isn't. I encourage everyone to vote on this generically, don't vote for unquestioned federal control over the regions just because you don't like the NNP, their specific cause, or one of their members.

What is the source of government power? The people. It's only with their consent that the power is legitimate. I still have no clue where the right of the federal government to rule over them without any challenge comes from (hint: nowhere), and while I understand the concept that it's a relationship that the regions voluntarily entered, I don't see anywhere that the individual people in question entered into that agreement. And rights are given to individuals, governments (both regional and federal) are only there to safeguard those rights--so it's more than simply a question of regional powers, but one of rights and the very nature of government.

I'd be surprised if a majority of the people opposing a right to secession are doing so based solely on the Northeast question - I know I'm not. As I'm sure you know from reading my earlier post, secession will upend the balance of power between the national government and the Regions and more than likely lead to the demise of Atlasia itself. Sooner or later, the national legislature is going to pass a law that a majority of citizens in one Region do not like: if that majority can declare itself out of the Union on a dime, we have a situation where the national government will be paralyzed by threats of separation. Furthermore, separation once accomplished will almost certainly kill at least one if not both of the emergent countries. Is there anyone who thinks we have enough active players in the game right now to sustain two independent powers?

Consider the political situation of our predecessor, the United States, in the 1850s. Virtually nothing was accomplished during that decade in regards to the slavery question (except for poorly-concieved "compromises" that made the situation worse) because, every time an anti-slavery Congressman would propose a solution, the pro-slavery faction would threaten to secede. We've seen this again and again over the course of human history: every political union that allows member states to secede has seen its national authorities rendered powerless. If you want to return to the Articles of Confederation, fine: legalize secession and vest all powers in the hands of the Regions. But if you want a federal system - and I suspect the majority of delegates do - you have to understand that secession just doesn't work.

You bring up a very important point though, Leinad, and that is that government derives its authority from the people. You are correct in saying that most Atlasians active today were not present at the formation of this Republic; all, however, have given their consent to the Union of these Regions by living here and abiding by the laws of our nation. To say that the Union does not bind us because we did not personally cast the vote to form it is to argue that laws against murder, slavery, arson, and treason do not bind us because our ancestors, and not we, penned the words that outlaw those practices.

Furthermore, I think you missed the central point of my earlier post. This Republic, and the union that came before it, is founded on the belief that all citizens, regardless of the conditions of their birth, has the right to live under a just, democratic government. When governments are unjust - when they violate the rights of the people, destabilize democratic institutions, and vest power in the hands of the few - then the people have the right to tear down that government and build a new one. What the fathers of our brand of democracy did not believe is that the people should have the right to overthrow just governments. Why? Because to rebel against the authority of a democratic government is a serious proposition, especially when it is the minority who rebel that does so. In doing so, the challengers are refusing to abide by the democratic determination of the people to abide by certain laws or follow certain leaders. If a Region can secede because it does not like the outcome of an election, what is the point of having elections? If a Region can secede because it does not like a particular law, what is the point of having laws? In both cases, a minority of the citizenry is refusing to abide by the democratic determination of the people. Not only does this destroy the idea of a federal union, it threatens the central tenant of our Republic: that we will submit our views to the democratic process.

Are there times when it may be necessary to oppose the government, even by force, even when a majority of citizens supports it? Yes. But those times are limited to when the government is actually infringing on the rights of the people, and in such cases it is unlikely that the ruling authorities will respect a Constitutional right to secession. In short, the only time in which such a right would mean anything at all is when secession is not permissible under the laws of Nature.

[TL;DR: Our democracy can survive only as long as the people agree to abide by the result of the democratic process. As such, citizens must respect the supremacy of the federal government, so long as that government does not take away their rights. If the government violates the rights of the people, then secession is permissible; however, in such an event, it is unlikely that said government would respect a Constitutional right to secession. As long as the government is just and continues to respect our natural liberties, there is no need for secession: in fact, seceding actually threatens the democratic process by giving the minority the right to nullify the will of the majority.]
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2015, 11:30:30 am »

I think what we're dealing with here is an honest difference of opinion as to what constitutes the "consent of the governed." As I see it, when someone registers to be a citizen of Atlasia (which is a voluntary act, unlike being born in, say, South Sudan), they are agreeing to obey the laws of the nation. Every game has rules, and Atlasia exists to simulate the politics of a federal republic. If you'd rather have a Region-centered confederation, that's fine: I just happen to disagree.

I will note, however, that secession has historically been incompatible with strong national governments, and history is riven with examples of countries that have collapsed as a result of successful separatist movements. The Holy Roman Empire, the Federal Republic of Central America, the United Arab Republic, and potentially the E.U. as well only a few examples of political unions that collapsed due to their inability to prevent secession.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2015, 04:41:12 pm »

NAY, for the reasons Duke explained.

Likewise, this debate has gone on far too long and is taking up an inordinate amount of this Convention's time. Secession is an important issue, but there is no reason that we need to spend two weeks debating it. We've argued the issue to death by this point: I say we consider the outcome of this vote final and move on, whatever that outcome may be.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2015, 07:09:06 pm »

Nay, though this is the best amendment so far. If this ends up being adopted, I would recommend the following changes:

1. Replace "discuss secession" with "secede". Obviously, citizens have the right to discuss secession - the question is whether they have the right to actually separate.
2. Remove "states and groups" from the list of bodies that may legally secede. Since most states have 1-2 inhabitants at most, allowing states to secede would inevitably result in trolling (does anyone really think that me and JCL need our own country?). "Groups" is horribly vague and should be struck from the text regardless of whether secession is legal or not.
3. Raise the threshold to two-thirds (at minimum).
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2015, 12:49:36 pm »

Aye guess.

I second the motion for a simple "Should secession be legal?" ballot to settle this issue and see those of us who value democracy and human rights can best proceed.
Thirded. We should have a 'principle' vote - before moving into how to implement it.
This exactly - I would suggest doing this as soon as the current vote is over.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2015, 04:35:10 pm »

NAY!

(As a side note I think votes like these are the best way to proceed on all of the questions, rather than just proposing lots of random amendments, and after this vote I move that we have a vote on the number of regions we want)
I second this.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2015, 11:24:58 am »

While I voted against allowing secession, it is now the duty of every delegate to respect the democratic process and work to build a fair and straightforward framework by which Regions can separate from Atlasia. It is time to lay this issue to rest.

I propose that now we:

- hold a 24-hours debate on the number of regions;
- hold a 48-hours principle vote on the number of regions (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, >5 the options)
- then discussing amendments about secession and number of regions (saying that we are allowing secession it's not enough, we should clarify some things. The same for regions: we should draft the new regions map).

I would recommend removing 1 and >5 as options: having only one Region would be pointless (you would basically have two federal governments), and I doubt that there's anyone here who thinks we have too few Regions.

As others have said before me, a three-Region map is the best option on the table. By going from five to three Regions, we would eliminate ~18 offices nationally, assuming each Region adopts a five-man government (1 governor, 3 legislators, 1 judge). Two Regions isn't a terrible idea, but I worry that such a map might decrease the number of positions too greatly, making it harder for new players to get their foot in the door.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #16 on: October 22, 2015, 06:01:40 pm »

I would urge my fellow delegates not to get too tied up over which state goes in what Region. Ultimately, such debates are unimportant and only distract from the main issue: the necessity of Regional consolidation. The map adopted by the 2nd CARCA is an aesthetically pleasing, historically congruent proposal that has the support of a majority of active Atlasians. There is no need to spend another three weeks debating different maps when we already have a perfectly acceptable option on the table.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #17 on: October 23, 2015, 06:36:01 pm »

[1] Three Regions
[2] Two Regions
[3] Four Regions

Having one Region is perhaps the most ridiculous idea I've heard in all my time in Atlasia.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2015, 12:31:36 pm »
« Edited: October 26, 2015, 03:12:24 pm by Senator Truman »

In that case, I offer the following amendment:

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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2015, 03:11:42 pm »

I object considering the map endorsed by the convention of regional consolidation isn't this map.

Did anyone post the popularly selected one from a few months ago? I think that's our best choice going forward.

I will amend my amendment to put MN and IA in Franklin (the North), which is the only difference between my proposal and the CARCA map.

I like the map, however, Jefferson was a slave owner, and I do not believe a region of Atlasia should be named after a slave owner.
Slavery was hardly the only aspect of Jefferson's legacy; however, if the delegates would prefer a different name, perhaps Marshall (for Thurgood) or Keller (for Hellen) would work?
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2015, 03:50:34 pm »

I'd prefer to use names from American history, which are more recognizable to new users and sound less made-up and awkward.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2015, 04:47:57 pm »

I considered naming the western Region after Warren, but decided not to due to his support for Japanese Internment during WWII. Ellsworth and Vinson are, frankly, no-names, and I can think of many more deserving figures to name the Northeast and South after. Who wants to live in a Region named "Vinson", anyway?

I picked Franklin, Jefferson, and Fremont because I felt they embodied the best qualities of Atlasian democracy: Franklin the ingenuity and philanthropy that has driven Atlasian society; Jefferson the idealism of the Revolution; and Fremont the rugged individualism of the pioneers. I can understand replacing Jefferson with another Southerner who embodies the same egalitarian principles minus the stain of racism, but we need to be careful not to over-think this. My goal with this amendment was to reference Atlasia's origins and to avoid bland names like "the West" and "the North," not to define every aspect of Atlasia's past, present, and future.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2015, 05:54:40 pm »

I'm okay with "Rayburn."
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2015, 06:15:46 pm »

Honestly, I don't think that proposal will prove stable in the long term. It is based on the assumption that the Northeast will continue to account for the vast majority of activity long into perpetuity, which is highly unlikely. Furthermore, putting Washington in the same Region as South Carolina makes absolutely no sense: the two have nothing in common geographically, culturally, or historically.
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Unconditional Surrender Truman
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« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2015, 07:17:56 pm »

Honestly, I don't think that proposal will prove stable in the long term. It is based on the assumption that the Northeast will continue to account for the vast majority of activity long into perpetuity, which is highly unlikely. Furthermore, putting Washington in the same Region as South Carolina makes absolutely no sense: the two have nothing in common geographically, culturally, or historically.

Or putting Indiana in with New York as Indiana has nothing in common geographically or culturally. I hereby object to any and all maps that put Indiana in a Northeastern region. It's disappointing that this body rejected maintaining 5 regions.

Indiana and New York are both Northern states that fought for the Union during the Civil War, border the Great Lakes, have sizable German-American communities, and were once home to the Algonquian Indian culture. The two states are, by far, a much better fit than Washington and South Carolina.
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