Breaking up is hard to do

America had been through a gruesome civil war and had paiddearly to keep itself intact. That precious scarifies is nowunder nerve-racking threat


Tomas Mega, U.S. correspondent     

A curious thing happened after the November 6 re-election of Barack Obama.  By November 14, residents in all 50 states had filed “We the People” petitions calling for the Federal Government to allow states to secede peacefully from the Union.  In Texas over 125,000 signatures were secured on their petition to secede, more than any other state.  One state Republican official called for Texas to have an ‘amicable divorce’ from the United States.  “Why should Vermont and Texas live under the same government?” wrote Peter Morrison, treasurer of the Hardin Country Republican party. “Let each go her own way.”

The last time a bona fide secession movement took hold in America was in 1860.  By 1861, eleven states had withdrawn from the Union, resulting in the American Civil War.  When the war ended in 1865, the Union remained intact with the victory of the anti-secessionist North, under the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln.  Modern estimates of the human cost of that war exceed one million, 3% of the American population at the time.

With such a horrific cost in American lives, and wounds that refuse to heal, why are Americans from every state once again talking about the right of states to secede from the Union? The reasons are varied, but appear to centre on a few related themes: Political polarization:  Urban versus Rural America.

The majority of counties in America voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney.  The majority of urban areas voted for Barack Obama.  Indeed, a look at a colour-coded 2012 county electoral map of the US shows nothing but red, indicating an overwhelming Republican victory.  Many Americans question how Obama could have been re-elected with the literal majority of American counties voting Republican.

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 Obama the ‘socialist’

In his first term, Obama the ‘socialist’ was born with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.  In his second term, it’s likely to be the battle over gun control and what many in rural America see as a deliberate effort by some Democrats to not only restrict the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but the eventual elimination of that Amendment.  The socialist label is not likely to go away.  As a leader of a Texas secessionist group has stated: “The Union has fundamentally changed.  The fact of the matter is that there cannot be a Union between those that espoused the principles of Karl Marx over the principles of Thomas Jefferson.”

The size of government,taxes and the national debt

There is a clear, historical difference between Republicans and Democrats over the size of Government.  Republicans view less government as a better government.  Obama holds a view that government has a significant role to play in American society, and that means more of it.  It also means more taxes.  It is the only way a government can fund itself.  And that means higher debt, as the amount of money coming in to government to fund its insatiable appetite will always fall short of its consumption.

But secession is not easy, nor should it be in a Federal Republic.  The Founding Fathers new this.  Their attempt was to create a ‘perpetual’ and ‘more perfect union.’  Nor is it wise.  Secession is the lazy way out for America.  The politics of ‘no’ is not politics.  The politics of Democracy is compromise.  No one gets everything they want; in life, in love, in politics.  Those that try when they are in positions of political power tend to become despotic.  Political leaders as well as citizens must find a way to compromise, to co-exist and perhaps most of all, have the guts to make and swallow hard decisions, whether you like them or not. Agreement amongst the populations of fifty states will never be universal.

Democracy can be noisy and controversial, and that’s a good thing.  It makes us work harder at what keeps us free.  It doesn’t and shouldn’t allow us an easy way out of disagreement.   As Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement stated, “Free and open debate is what makes this country work, and many people around the world risk their lives everyday for the liberties we often take for granted.  But as much as we value a healthy debate, we don’t let that debate tear us apart.”


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