By J.D. Tuccille
One of the great joys of the Internet age is the voice it gives to myriad people whose opinions previously remained silent, unknown or at least badly misrepresented by whatever sundry politicians and journalists set themselves up as mouthpieces for what the regular folks really want. Unfiltered by those mouthpieces, and speaking through the medium of the White House’s petitioning mechanism, what lots of folks very, very unhappy with the result of the election want is take their states out of the union. That’s the sort of sentiment that often raises hackles in the United States, though there’s nothing inherently unreasonable about it. It’s also a sentiment that’s almost certain to remain frustrated, at least in the short term. But with thousands (err … tens of thousands) of Americans signing petitions to make the union rather less united, it’s worth considering the top-down policies and fear of D.C. that have these modern-day secessionists so upset.
There’s nothing sacred about national borders, of course. And this isn’t the first time in recent memory that people dissatisfied with election results have fantasized about redrawing this country’s boundaries. Remember those Jesusland vs. United States of Canada maps of the terrible Bush years (that dark interregnum in this country’s history when the federal government engaged in undeclared wars overseas, spied on Americans at home and went on a massive spending spree)?
In 2008, before the last national election, 22 percent of Americans voiced support for the idea that “any state or region has the right to ‘peaceably secede from the United States and become an independent republic.’” The results were pretty consistent region to region, too, though more liberals than conservatives favored the idea.
Just looking at the past, it’s as near to a sure thing as you’ll find outside a John Cusack movie that the borders of the United States will not only move a little or a lot in the centuries to come, but they’ll eventually cease to exist and the whole country will end up as a chapter in a history textbook published somewhere in the Greater Hawaiian Empire (come for the conquest, stay for the all-you-can-eat luau).
But that’s for the future. What drives today’s would-be movers of borders? The petition for Texan secession cites “blatant abuses of their rights such as the NDAA, the TSA, etc.” and boasts that Texas “maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world.”The petition for Oregon complains about “the Federal Govenrment increasing it’s size much larger than our Founding Father’s intended, and it’s abuse of power trumping over the rights of State constitutions, and the forcing of unconstitutional laws over it’s own citizens.” The Montana petition quotes Benjamin Franklin saying “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” A whole bunch of the petitions quote the Declaration of Independence to the extent that: