It’s right there in the Constitution. First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law . . . . abridging . . . the right of the people . . . to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” We can petition, if we’re aggrieved. And OMG are we aggrieved.
So 600,000 people, in 40 states, have gone to this website and filed petitions to the White House to secede from the union. The threshold is 25,000; you need that many signatures to get an official White House response. Texas was the first state to reach that number, since joined by Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina and Alabama. Hey, if those states were to join together, they’d already have their flag all ready to go! Plus, you know they’d be really good at college football.
I think, BTW, that White House website is awesome. And I went ahead and signed two of the other petitions on it. One was about Uganda, protesting the anti-gay stance of the Ugandan government. The other is about supporting two bills before Congress that would make it more affordable for couples to adopt. Neither of the petitions I support have enough other signatures to compel an official White House response, but hey, I did my part. I write my Congressman all the time, and I’m never happy with his responses, but then my Congressman is a conservative Republican. So I’m not likely to agree with him on much.
But, secession. Man. Seriously, secession. I mean, in a way, it’s great; in 1860, folks demonstrated their dissatisfaction by seizing armories and capturing forts; we do it clicking on a website link. Seems a lot less lethal. And we could point out that a lot of those same states tried that once and that it didn’t turn out so well. Also that a skinny guy from Illinois was President then too. Also, it’s nuts. Plus, all the states that want to secede desperately need federal subsidies to balance their state budgets–they’re minus revenue states; states that receive more federal tax dollars than they pay. (Generally, blue states are plus revenue). So there are practical reasons why secession would be a bad idea. Oh, yeah, and also this: a week after an election didn’t go your way, so you want to take your football and go home? Seriously?
But it’s understandable, I do get where they’re coming from. Look at the rhetoric from the Right before this election. You had Mike Huckabee doing ads like this one, suggesting that a vote supporting Obamacare would be recorded in heaven, and would fail the ‘test of fire.’ Basically, you vote for Obama and you’re going to hell. You had Chuck Norris (you know how much I love this ad), saying Obama would bring about socialism, or ‘even worse.’ Multiply those examples a hundred-fold. The rhetoric was inflammatory, the language extreme; if Obama won, we would see the complete collapse of the American economy, riots in the streets, hyperinflation, destruction and, heck, probably cannibalism or something.
Craziness begets craziness. Extreme and irresponsible rhetoric inflames, leads to extreme and irresponsible emotions.
Example: I’ve been reading and watching a lot about the Benghazi situation, and my posts have been mostly pretty well received. But some respondents (mostly on Facebook), have been furious; really seriously pissed that I don’t get what’s Really Going On. I finally realized why. To me, Benghazi is serious business, a failure of security and of intelligence in a difficult region of the world. I think Congress should investigate it, and they are. But to some folks on the Right, Benghazi isn’t about an attack on a US foreign mission: it’s proof positive of how dangerous Obama is. Obama is, according to one of my correspondents, a pathological liar. No, worse, he’s not just soft on terror, he’s in active league with terrorists. They don’t want Congress to figure out how to strengthen embassy security. They want Obama impeached, then executed for high treason. So when Susan Rice spoke on Face the Nation and mentioned the anti-Islamic video as a possible cause of the Benghazi attack, she wasn’t just mistaken by inadequate intel, she was actively complicit in betraying her country. She was In On The Plot. Wow.
So folks want to leave. Not leave the country, they don’t actually want to go anywhere–possibly because they’ve figured out that a move to Canada or Europe or Australia wouldn’t necessarily be putting socialism in their rear view mirrors. No, they want to secede. They want out. They want to live in a country where the President isn’t a black guy named Obama. And yes, I’m going to play the race card. Certainly not all conservatives are racist, or even very many. But there were race riots at Ol’ Miss after the election, and the ‘keep the White House White’ thread is a popular one on Reddit and Youtube. I wish there wasn’t a racial component to at least some of the anti-Obama sentiment, but it’s there all right. Unfortunately.
But more than that, secession fever is driven by fear. People are scared about the deficit. They’re scared about the economy. They’re worried about the fiscal cliff. They think we haven’t recovered much from the last recession, and that the next one’s going to get worse. Those are legitimate fears. Unfounded, in my opinion. But not completely crazy.
But the End of Days? Armageddon? Where are folks getting all this hogswallow? Well, isn’t that obvious? Glen Beck and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, and basically most of Fox News. Fox has calmed down a bit since the election, though the conspiracy theories they’ve advanced regarding Petraeus and Benghazi have been massively entertaining. But the talking heads on the Right didn’t just suggest that the consequences would be devastating if Obama won. They also said Romney was going to win. Even on election night, when all the evidence clearly showed we were heading for a big Obama win, conservatives were certain Romney was going to win.
And here’s the thing; we’ve seen this before. Recently. Conservatives were fond of talking about Bush derangement syndrome; the way some liberals loathed George W. Bush so completely they attributed to him all manner of wickedness and incompetence. It goes further back than that too: my great-grandmother once refused to feed my family on vacation, because we made the mistake of letting her know that we’d stopped at the Truman library on our way to Utah, and she despised Harry Truman. And what were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson called, by followers of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams? Jefferson’s surrogates called John Adams a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” And Adams’ folks called Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” So today we have Obama derangement symdrome. Probably not a big deal in the long run.
Meanwhile, brothers and sisters, fellow citizens, if you’re done with your tantrum, it’s time to rally around the President. No one’s actually going to secede, and our country’s going to be fine. Time for negotiation and compromise. Now if we can just get a budget passed.