OPINION – I was hoping that by now, things would have returned to normal, or as close to normal as we can get in these screwy, upside-down times.
I knew it would take some people a bit of time to get over the election results, knowing full well that if my guy had lost, I’d be carrying some baggage around for awhile.
But, beyond the usual finger-pointing and recriminations about a campaign lost, there has been a disturbing trend.
Residents from all 50 states have put together petitions to secede from the Union.
The petitions have turned up on the White House’s “We The People” portal on its website, which allows individuals to craft petitions and collect signatures to obtain a formal response from the government within what the site calls “a timely fashion.”
Information on the website claims that “If a petition meets the signature threshold, it will be reviewed by the Administration and we will issue a response.”
Now, there are a lot of reasons to petition the government. There’s the staggering economy, unemployment, taxes, pot prohibition, the death penalty, the never-ending war, education, health care, and a host of other reasons. And, petitioning the White House may not be a bad idea, considering how Congress has left the phone off the hook and been so unresponsive to the growing needs of a nation trying to bounce back.
However, the underpinnings of secession are scary. It was rooted in the Civil War when 11 Southern states formally seceded from the Union, two others informally seceded, and one huge territory unified as the Confederate States of America and declared war against the United States by firing upon Fort Sumter.
It all began shortly after the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln, who tried desperately to preserve the Union, going as far as to propose an Amendment to preserve slavery in the South. But, when the cannons thundered over Fort Sumter, the olive branch was rescinded and he ordered 75,000 troops to quell the uprising.
It was a matter of states’ rights and a suspicion of the federal government’s long arm.
There have been elected officials through the years who have floated the idea, including ideas to split up different states, an idea that has held traction in California for many years now where I have seen proposals to divide the Golden State into two, three, or as many as four different states.
This current flurry of petitions?
I can only chalk it up to disgruntled voters and the dying gasp of the Tea Party, which hates everything associated with the feds who, are acting like the kid on the playground who gets ticked at his classmates and threatens to take his ball and go home if things don’t go his way.
There’s no way, of course, that any of these states could actually pull it off, but, ponder for a moment if you will, what would transpire if any of them succeeded.
What would happen to their roads, their highways? What would happen to the education dollars that are passed along from the federal government? What would happen in the event of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy or Katrina? What about federal health care benefits? How much would your taxes go up if suddenly, the state you live in had to go it alone?
It’s a fool’s bluff, a childish reaction to an election lost and further evidence that the nation is, perhaps, at its most divisive time since the Civil War.
There has been great clamor about states’ rights the last dozen or so years. We’ve seen states take some extraordinary measures — from refusing stimulus money for education to legalizing gay marriage and recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. States have embraced and rejected the death penalty. Regulatory legislation on gun laws, alcohol and tobacco restrictions, even speed limits have me wondering just how much commonality we have in this nation any more.
Perhaps if some of these issues were more uniform, we would have less need for what conservatives deride as “big government,” which is evident at the county, state as well, and instill a little common sense.
But, this talk of secession?
It’s nothing more than sour grapes.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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