Happy Dependence Day, Scotland

William Wallace Scotland

My social media lately has been flooded with people supporting “Scottish freedom” and “Scottish independence” while proving little to no knowledge of the subject. The final straw came in the form of this (admittedly hilarious) meme I found on social media this morning.

Scotland was not voting for freedom. Freedom is not something you get to vote for. After all, voting is a democratic process enjoyed by the free. You fight for freedom. You vote for change.

Scotland was voting for independence, or, more accurately, for secession from the United Kingdom. They are not being oppressed and are not fighting for independence from a totalitarian regime. They have different sociopolitical beliefs (typically more leftist beliefs) than the majority of Parliament and thus wished to govern themselves.

To put it in terms Americans can understand, it’s like Texas wanting to be its own country because it doesn’t like the majority’s “leftist” policies. Except instead of making a case with bumper stickers on pickup trucks and poorly worded Internet petitions, the Scots worked within the established bounds of their political process and allowed their people to determine if it’s really what they wanted.

Their people — in a mass display — said no.

There was no “allowing” Scottish independence, as so many catchy hashtags and social media posts have implied. This isn’t Tibet or Crimea.

As Americans, we tend to have a tough time separating words like “independence” and “freedom” from the connotations they hold in our own history. It’s in our nature to support any country seeking independence, whether we know anything about the situation or not. If you present us with the two choices, we’ll instinctively choose independence. We think being independent is the only way to be free, and that the two are intrinsically connected.

They’re not.

Autonomy is not always advantageous, and Scotland’s independence would have far-reaching consequences on the UK, Scotland and the European Union. Independence results in destabilization in the short term as an idealistic political movement must transition to a realistic course of action.

In short, this:

We're independent! Now what?