A major Democratic donor said he supports Southern secession because the South is "dumbing down" national politics, according to emails from a secret progressive Google group obtained by Media Trackers, a conservative Wisconsin news outlet.
In an email thread on Gamechanger Salon—a closed Google group of progressive organizers, reporters, and campaign apparatchiks—Guy Saperstein, a major Democratic donor and part owner of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, said he would support the South seceding.
"For more than 100 years, the South has been dumbing down national politics, tilting the country in a conservative direction, supporting militarism, all while demanding huge financial subsidies from blue states," Guy Saperstein wrote in the emails. "It would be 100% fine with me if the South was a separate nation, pursuing its own priorities and destiny."
In the email thread from last October, Gamechanger Salon participants were discussing a Michael Lind story at Salon entitled "The South is Holding America Hostage."
"I thought this was an impressive (if tough) piece of big-picture political strategy and prescription," member Jon Stahl wrote. "Would be interested to hear others’ opinions of whether he is on target or way off … and if so what that might imply."
"In the alternative, could we just let the South secede?" Saperstein began, before offering his opinions on secession. "My comment was not made in jest at all."
Saperstein is a former president of the Sierra Club Foundation and a former member of the Democracy Alliance, a shadowy group of wealthy liberals who direct donations to progressive causes and organizations.
In follow-up comments to Media Trackers, Saperstein wrote, "Secession would be a gradual process, giving any blacks who felt threatened time to relocate."
Civil rights victories "would not be lost for any blacks willing to relocate and the ones who relocated would do much better in their new environments," Saperstein continued.
Not all Gamechanger Salon members were as enthused by the prospect of secession, according to Media Trackers.
"Calling for secession is technically sedition—if we’re going to call out right-wing nutjobs for saying lunatic things like this, then we should be equally prone to chastise our own allies for saying so," member Ryan Clayton, a campaign finance reform activist, wrote in response to Saperstein.
It is unclear how much of the professional left is sympathetic to the cause of Southern independence.
Media Trackers first discovered the existence of Gamechanger Salon through a public records request to a Wisconsin university professor who is a member of the group.
Sally Kohn, a CNN commentator, is a member, as are two Huffington Post reporters, Amanda Terkel and Ryan Grim. Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation, is also a member.