On the EDge: Secession talk is just sour grapes

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 But, when the cannons thundered over Fort Sumter, the olive branch was rescinded and he ordered 75,000 troops to quell the uprising.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.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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  • debbie November 15, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Interestingly.. the thing that your article capitalized on.. is the thing that Obama re-elected.. the free stuff… lol..

  • Mike H November 15, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I’ve been conversing with friends on Facebook regarding this exact thing. The US has changed a LOT since the Civil War and I wonder how much these people have really thought about the implications. Taking into account the things you mentioned above there is a least one more consideration; the military complex. Since these states are putting forth the action to secede it is my assumption they are leaving without the benefit of the existing federal government. As the military is part of the fed that would mean all these states would have no military presence. This isn’t 1860 where you had 33ish states (depending on how one counted Kansas) with 31.4 million people. There are over 308.7 million people in this country now. Most states no longer develop militias like they did in the 1800s. Utah had a militia back then (we saw how that worked out for the emigrants from Arkansas), but to the best of my knowledge we have nothing of the sort now.
    Plus with the mixture of people and the media machine providing info to the populace we aren’t talking about whole state populations supporting that state’s secession; talk about brother against brother.
    Now we have Austin wanting to secede from Texas and we had a town over the mountain here in Utah that tried unsuccessfully in the 80-90s to secede. I think these are knee jerk reactions from people who didn’t get their way. Your analogy of a kid taking his ball and going home is spot on.
    Interestingly I have a friend who posited that the country is simply too large and maybe it should be split up. He wonders why someone in Florida should have any kind of opinion on what goes on in Washington or Oregon. It’s an intriguing thought.
    But what about travel between states, their independent economies and trade? I don’t think it would be as simple as setting up an American version of the European Union. People need to quit whining and get back to work and accept that things don’t always go their way. You know these same people teach their kids that life isn’t always fair and you just work through it. Now if only they would take their own advice.

    • Damie November 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      Trade is a huge issue. Doing business internationally can involve all kinds of hassles, especially when laws and fees differ wildly. If the goal was to create a deep depression, secession and breakup of the union would be a swift way to achieve it, perhaps permanently.

  • Andrew November 15, 2012 at 9:10 am

    ..i’m pretty certain, when these petitions are all submitted, our dear, dear president, in the spirit of national reconciliation, will put their names on the “No-Fly” list…

  • ken November 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    @Andrew.. I’m pretty certain that your comment will be the most asinine!

  • Steve November 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    This opinion truly was not worth publishing. It sounds like some hippy guy who is on permanent vacation on the beach in Mexico, an Obama supporter who doesn’t show proper respect for people who have other opinions (which would be the majority of the readers of this website). It was not written very professionally or in a fact-based way. I hope the editors of this website won’t publish such poorly thought out thoughts in the future.

    Regarding secession, I don’t think that is a good idea, but many of the people who are floating this idea are doing so because of very genuine concerns about the future of this country, not because they are poor losers.

    • Big Bob November 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      Steve, you sound like just some guy against Obama.

      • Guess who November 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        Big Bob… you sound like some guy with only a minutia of thought. Folks who held positions such as that are the bigots of the world and would still prefer to be a colony and king.as opposed a free and independent people. Oh, sorry if you do not understand the point.

  • Big Bob November 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I can’t imagine Utah being anymore seceded from this nation than it already is!

    • Curtis November 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      I agree with you except — Utah has not seceded from the Federal checkbook. The reason Orrin Hatch was re-elected in a landslide was that he promised to keep the gravy train running, and that is what Utah’s political leadership wanted and why they endorsed him and the electorate voted for him

  • Brandt Hardin November 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    The racism of yesteryear has come full circle in our county. The entire world embraced our choice of a black President four years ago and most nations of the world still support him. The fringe elements of Republican sect have crept through into the mainstream once again with conservative mouthpieces planting the seeds of hate. The only doubt lies here at home rooting from bigotry. Watch the white hands paint Obama in Blackface at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/10/bamboozling-obama.html

  • WILLIAM November 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness —————————–

    Patrick Henry represented a strong voice for the Anti-Federalists who opposed adoption of the Constitution. Questioning the nature of the new political organization being proposed, Henry asked:

    The fate … of America may depend on this. … The question turns, sir, on that poor little thing—the expression, We, the people, instead of the states, of America. ..recieved denial letter.

    Supreme Court rulings Texas v. White the Court’s decision recognized some possibility of the divisibility “through revolution, or through consent of the States”. So Yes WE Can

    • Damie November 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      How would you expect businesses to survive a total fracturing of the marketplace and all laws governing it?

  • Mr G November 15, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    At some point we will be where Greece is now. When we get there the rest of the world will abandon the U.S. Dollar as the worlds reserve currency, and we will no longer be able to keep the gravy train flowing. I am sure this will happen as the Congress will never cut off the ever spiraling debt and have the guts to do the right thing. At that point secession will be almost a forgone conclusion as a large number of states will be wanting out of the sinking boat as fast as possible.

    • Damie November 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      And how will capitalism survive? Will it be all fur capped free traders armed with muskets at trading posts or will some provision be made to allow a semi-modern functioning of the marketplace?

  • MShabazz November 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Great, go head and secede. Then ya’ll can give the land back to the Native people.

    • Guess who November 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Ah, that would be Y’all. If you wish to appear literate be literate .

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