I had previously asked this question about how the U.S. military would deal with a secessionist uprising from an organized coalition of werewolves, when I realized I hadn't thought very much about the other side of the coin. Most of the answers to the previous question also pointed out that it would be very easy for humans to reframe a question of supernatural independence into a matter of life or death survival for humanity, suggesting that the supernaturals would have to be very careful about how they did things.

Given this, my question is how could a group of supernatural beings go about declaring a chunk of what is currently the U.S. a sovereign nation independent of the United States?

The only work that I think ever addressed this question is Dance in the Vamipire Bund, where the vampires basically bought an island off the Japanese government by offering to pay off Japan's entire national debt.

Originally the plot idea I had was a coalition of werewolves banding together to try and declare much of the Rocky Mountain West an independent werewolf state, but I decided to make the question a bit broader to not just apply to the Rocky Mountain West or werewolves, since it could be applied to many different supernatural beings or regions of the U.S. The original idea was that a coalition of several groups of supernaturals compared notes, got tired of hiding (since maintaining the masquerade means they have to hide who they are, bars them from high-profile or high-paying jobs, and means most of them are economically not well off or forced to live in remote areas to avoid detection), and decided to form a secessionist movement to form a sovereign state where they can exist openly and in charge. They basically thought "if Dracula can set up his own personal duchy in Transylvania why can't we do it here?" Their reasoning for putting themselves in control rather than just trying to undo the Masquerade "Screw The Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers" and a heaping helping of arrogance and belief in their own superiority.

The only thing that was specific to the werewolf plot was they were going to try the Rocky Mountain west because that's where most of them lived and the sparsely populated but heavily mountainous and forested terrain would have favored werewolf guerilla warfare, and the U.S. would care a lot less about Wyoming or Montana seceding than New York or California. But it's possible that other areas might be better targets for a secessionist movement.

The only problem is the U.S. has had events in the past where regions have tried to secede and declare their independence. The government took exception to that and responded. Violently. The U.S. tends to be a bit twitchy about secession movements in the 50 states, and while secession movements do exist none are as widespread as, say, Quebec secessionists in nearby Canada.

Other parameters for the question:

  • Prior to this, the setting was a pretty stereotypical Masquerade one. I.e., one where supernaturals existed among humanity but kept themselves hidden for fear of discovery. There isn't some "hidden world" government they can take over akin to Voldemort and the Ministry of Magic, the supernaturals mostly existed in a state of mutually agreed to secrecy with little higher organization until they decided to get politically organized.
  • The supernaturals explicitly want independence from mortal governments. They don't want to "come out of the coffin" or have their civil rights recognized, they want to be in charge of themselves and have no mortal authority tell them what to do. They want an independent state and nothing short of that will appease them.
  • The supernaturals explicitly want to be in charge. They want to set up a government that benefits them in some way. They either want mortals out of their territory or set up a system where supernaturals are in charge or at least "first among equals". Mortals in government are okay as long as they represent a minority, and they are willing to let skilled workers immigrate because they need skilled labor to make a country work. The supernaturals also have a bit of a problem with nepotism and clannishness (i.e., a werewolf is more likely to appoint pack members to a politically important position, or else appoint other supernaturals before mortals).
  • The supernaturals have no innate need or compunction to harm human beings. They don't have to prey on humans to survive or have a natural urge to be cruel and subjugate them. As a result it's a bit harder to frame them as predatory monsters (like that's ever stopped propagandists before). Honestly quite a few of them simply think they can do a better job running a state than the government.
  • The supernaturals have no broader social or governmental policies in mind beyond "we're tired of hiding from the mortal world and we want to be in charge". They'll do just about whatever it takes to get what they want. On the one hand, this means they could easily add or remove planks in their pitch as need be to convince other people to join their movement. On the other hand, it means they have no idea what they're doing. For example in the werewolf example I gave above there's a bit of a problem in their plan in that the region they're attempting to claim has few natural resources, is landlocked, has little useable water, isn't good for farming, and is sitting on top of quite a bit of coal, uranium, and oil that the U.S. government probably wants.
  • The supernaturals don't have the ability to mass-brainwash the mortals or manipulate the government at the highest level. Which means they can't just hypnotize the heads of state into giving them their own territory, or use Illuminati-like shenanigans to get the heads of state to approve their demands. They have to use actual geopolitics. They do have actual powers that give them a massive force multiplier despite being a small minority of the population. They probably don't have the money to buy a state like in Dance in the Vampire Bund, but with the U.S.'s debt crisis you never know.
  • Location probably matters. The U.S. government is probably going to fight tooth and nail to keep a major economic powerhouse like Texas, New York, or California in the Union, whereas they will likely be less aggressive with states that are less significant economically.

The biggest problem I can see is that the supernaturals are attempting to claim territory in which the majority of people living there don't feel the supernaturals speak for them and don't represent them as individuals. The supernaturals are going to have to either get the common people to accept their rule (somehow) or else get them to leave their borders en masse. While independence movements do exist in some states (e.g., Cascadia), most of these movements are based on the presumption that once the U.S. government leaves they will be able to theoretically set up a democracy that will be more sensitive to their needs, not become second-class citizens in a state that affords them less freedoms than they already have. "Don't tread on me" opinions may be widespread in parts of the U.S. but it seems likely most civilians would rather side with a far-off government that offers nominal representation than the supernaturals. Normal people might also dislike the clannish attitudes of many supernaturals.

In terms of whether this is story-related or setting-related, I'm mostly asking about the general tactics a group of supernaturals could even try to bring about such a result. I.e., is it even possible for the supernaturals to accomplish this (seems a bit unlikely to me), what would be necessary setting-wise for them to accomplish it, what areas could be most easily broken off, and would this have broader consequences, rather than the specific actions of one or a few individuals. For example, Dracula managing to claim sovereignty over Manhattan horribly breaks suspension of disbelief unless there is heavy handwaving. The conflict is basically to set up the geopolitical backdrop of the setting and the actual plot doesn't focus on the broad scale geopolitics but the fallout.

Yes, I do realize the smarter thing would be for the supernaturals to campaign for public acceptance and try grassroots efforts to get elected to positions in state legislature and governorship until you have one or more states that have a significant supernatural demographic and pro-supernatural policy. I never said the supernaturals weren't arrogant.

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    $\begingroup$ It depends on what kinds of powers your supernatural creatures have. If they are like regular vampires or werewolves then they would probably be suppressed by the military easily. But if they are like superheroes that can blow up a tank with little efforts, then the picture changes a lot. $\endgroup$ – Galaxy Jan 16 at 22:54
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    $\begingroup$ Another thing is that if the supernatural creatures in the United States successfully seceded, then that could also be an example for supernatural creatures in other countries such as Egyptian Anubids, Indian Nagas, and Norwegian Trolls. $\endgroup$ – Galaxy Jan 16 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps instead of outright secession it would be better for the supernatural creatures to just fly under the radar and occupy several abandoned rural villages in the Appalachia, and then scare mortals that attempt to go there. Like a typical story in a horror movie, a couple moves to the country in spite of subtle warnings and finds out that the neighbors are actually werewolves. $\endgroup$ – Galaxy Jan 16 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ Most is covered by worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/105831: Your supers must fight a real war against the U.S. Military, win, negotiate a peace treaty in which the USA cedes the homeland, see the treaty ratified by both sides, and beg (or force) recognition by other nations. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jan 17 at 2:10
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    $\begingroup$ VTC: this question is mostly about plot with very little Worldbuilding. The question has most of the world built! $\endgroup$ – SRM Jan 17 at 4:12

Unlikely to happen peacefully

There are been about 30 serious secession efforts in the USA since 1980. Some even are debated in the state legislature or lead to referendums that pass with a decent majority (Eg Staten Island in 1993 - 63% voted to leave).

Even "Common Sense" succession hasn't happened, the Northwest angle in Minnesota is an exclave that's only accessible by land via Canada. That succession failed in 1997.

You have 4 options:

  • Take a tiny bit of desert no one cares about, eg Hutt River Provence
  • Create an army, arm it, and do a brutal war against the police, then national guard, then US military.
  • Take over your local / state government, perhaps by selective assination. Eg the 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack
  • Build new land outside of US boundary not connected to the USA. Sink a few thousand old ships. Dump some rocks, then soil. Plant some trees. Done!
  • $\begingroup$ Hutt River Province is no more. It is to be "sold as farmland in order to pay off a growing debt to the Australian Taxation Office". $\endgroup$ – Fred Jan 17 at 10:34
  • $\begingroup$ In addition to the Northwest angle of Minnesotta, there is also Point Roberts, which is piece of Washington state, whose sole land access is from British Columbia, Canada. $\endgroup$ – Fred Jan 17 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ @ Fred Yes I know. But in the 50 years it self-identified as a separate country the tax office got no money from it, so it was at least semi-successful. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jan 17 at 11:12

Tough Sell:

I think your supers have a decent chance to establish a homeland - possibly even with the help of humans - but I don't think seceding from the US is the way to do it. There are several steps that would need to go first, and several ways such a goal could be attained.

  1. Establish Moral parity (PR campaign): Humans will react badly to the presence of non-humans. The first thing you need to do is make your supers equal in the minds OF humans TO humans. People need to see them not as monsters, but as intelligent peaceful beings who have hid from persecution by mankind and are finally trusting enough to reveal themselves to us. Play up the persecuted minority angle, and find a neutral/favorable term for the group (para-humans, meta-humans, Lupine-Americans, etc.) Make old superstitions seem like racist propaganda.
  2. Choose a homeland: I don't recommend the USA as the place for your group to establish an independent state. The USA is founded on the ideals (not always the practice) of equity and unity, and you are unlikely to convince the USA to give up lands - EVER - unless there really IS an ancient ancestral homeland of werewolves, or vampires, or whatever within the borders (PLUS it being in a useless part of the nation). My best bet would be to pick a small nation with no significant military treaties with any superpowers (meaning nations, not creatures), then have your supers migrate there, buy up land, gain political influence, and eventually overthrow the government.
  3. Lay the groundwork: Since you want it to be the USA, might I suggest Cuba? The Cuban government might allow what it perceives as superior warriors to enter the country, and allowing Cuba to play up saving a persecuted minority would give them a PR coup against the USA. Once you have an "in" with them, spy on their government, and penetrate their army. Plan an overthrow and you could probably get the USA to support them tacitly if not directly. Machiavelli in The Prince suggests centralized dictatorships are easier to overthrow because the people don't love the government and will follow a strong leader who promises them something better. The alternative is to pick some country small enough that the supers can claim a homeland and displace most of the humans without too much of a human rights crisis.
  4. Promises and Lies: For the Cuba-type example, if you market your country as a homeland for your supers, you'll be hated/viewed as a threat. But if the supers declared Raul Castro as an enemy of the people, promised economic prosperity and equality, then delivered on substantial freedoms, other nations might EMBRACE the supers overthrowing a dictator. If the people ACTUALLY were better off, they might grouse, but ultimately tolerate it. And so what if the senior leadership are 30% vampire, 40% werewolf, and 30% human?
  5. True Homeland: If you can find a place where there either aren't a lot of people and the local government won't have a global superpower coming to their rescue, you can buy or conquer a small nation. This is tougher than you might think. People ar stubborn about places. Something unclaimed like Antarctica would be best, but this isn't a very hospitable spot. Your Japan example is a good one, so if you have enough money, pick somewhere that a government that needs money might be willing to sell - part of Canada, maybe some of Siberia or Australia. Outright invasion is the least attractive option, but if the place is small enough, or unloved enough, the world will eventually swallow it. At this point, you WANT to play up the homeland idea. There will be those who won't want to accept your new country, and you must convince them you have a compelling case for your own safety and survival at stake.
  6. Autonomous region: Another alternative is to find a nation willing to let you set up your homeland in their borders, and offer them money or your supers as troops in exchange for an autonomous region where your supers control most of the laws and have their own courts, etc. This isn't quite independence, but IF you had to have your homeland in the USA, this is the only one that could work. Buy almost all of the land in a state like North Dakota. Ask for something akin to tribal rights, and make all the lands you purchased into a "reservation." If the laws regarding reservations apply (and I'm not a huge expert on the subject) you may even be able to expand the reservation by buying new land. If your reservation is all in one sparsely populated state, you can exert an oversized influence on state government. Eventually, you'll have a super-dominated state with the semi-independence of a reservation added on. Most of the downsides to reservations are economic ones, but if your supers can establish a viable economy, you have a semi-independent state within the USA.

The only way to do this is to wield a big enough stick (Military might, Economic, or Social basically). Historically, there haven't been any successful secession from the USA and the most notable attempt resulted in the American Civil War. The most optimistic result I can see is getting your supernatural state to gain a status similar to those that Indian reservations have today.

Now back to the "big stick" methods:

  • Might: Your supernatural state is individually powerful enough to fight the entire US military (arguably most powerful in the world!) to a standstill. This can also be done through MAD methods--for example, your supernatural state could build and "test" a couple nuclear weapons and then tell the US govt to back off.
  • Economy: Your supernatural state controls so much of the USA's GDP that they can use economic levers (bribes to foreign nations, pocket politicians, CEOs, etc) to threaten the USA. With this vast wealth they could elevate someone to president (give a candidate unparalleled funding) and buy a bunch of Representatives and Congresspeople (they're not even that expensive!). With majority control of the House, Senate, and Executive Branch, they can appoint some friendly Judiciary (maybe covertly assassinate the old ones) and with the govt firmly in your control, pass through secession procedures (although at this point the state already controls the USA, so secession really doesn't make much sense anymore).
  • Societal: Similar to Economic but instead of directly buying politicians, you use money, propaganda, and memes to convince the people to vote for friendly politicians. For those who can't be swayed, radicalize them in the other direction instead: convince them that kicking the supernaturals out of their great country is the best thing they could do. Note that this strategy is probably more expensive and difficult than simply buying the politicians directly.

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