On Thursday, the whole world will watch as Scots head to the polls to vote whether they want to become their own country or stay on as part of the United Kingdom (along with Wales and Northern Island). If Scotland votes for independence, then the 300-year marriage with England will be over. What do the Amish have to do with these events? From a practical standpoint, probably not much, at least not for awhile. But if Scotland does vote for independence it’ll be a powerful signal to other culturally distinct groups in other countries to press for their own independence. Catalonia and Basque in Spain and France are almost certainly next and Quebec may eye this route again. The United States has its own unique cultural islands. Some still argue that the South is culturally distinct and should be its own country. Others press the case for Hawaiian, Alaskan or even Texas to become independent nations.
By 2020 there will be two majority Amish enclaves in the United States: Holmes County, Ohio and Lagrange County, Indiana. While the Amish have generally remained an apolitical group, they would have just as much of a case to make for cultural identity as the Scots. As the Amish population grows, especially in these areas, they will have more political muscle and clout. It would be surprising if they don’t begin to flex it. Cajuns in Louisiana and Native Americans would also be able to make similar claims. I’m not sure how I feel about Scottish independence or any of these other movements. Cultural identify is a powerful force on one hand, but on the other, can’t everyone just all get along? Boundaries of countries are man-made constructions and I guess they are done because history has proven that we can’t all get along, but it’d be nice if we did.
So, anyone hazard to guess as to what Scotland will on Thursday? My guess is they vote for independence by a razor thin margin and a political earthquake will be felt that may some day rattle even Amish country.