News Column

How to Secede

Nov. 16, 2012

It really isn't 1861, or is it?

In what has to be one of the more zany responses to President Obama's reelection, online petitions to secede from the union have been filed by secessionists in all 50 states. That includes, of course, the 26 states carried by Obama on Nov. 6.

The catalyst for the action is the "We the People" page on the White House website, which encourages the public to petition the government as set forth in the First Amendment to the Constitution. The White House site says that if a petition gets sufficient support, it will be reviewed and an official response given. That sounds all well and good, but it's hard to see the Obama administration taking secession petitions seriously.

And who can blame it? Why should the White House respond to a political stunt orchestrated by a small segment of extreme Obama critics who simply do not want to accept the results of the recent election? We have seen similar expressions of anger from that camp, including an Election Night call for revolution from Donald Trump, protests on college campuses in Mississippi and Virginia and reports that some are flying the American flag upside down.

It's easy to laugh off the wave of secession petitioners, and there are hundreds of thousands of them nationwide, by suggesting they read up on the Civil War. That should render the idea moot pretty quickly.

But what is more unfortunate is how political zeal is overriding all semblance of common sense about the role of the federal government.

We imagine some of those signing the petitions receive Social Security and Medicare. Others live in states, most of which are in the south, that get back from Washington far more in federal aid than they pay in taxes. Just how would secession affect all of that?

Here in New Jersey, the secession petition was created by a Gloucester County man identified as "joe r." What is most ironic about the New Jersey petition is that it was drafted while the state is trying to recover from the destruction of superstorm Sandy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is a key to that recovery. Already, FEMA has awarded $127 million in emergency aid to the state and has opened 22 disaster aid centers throughout New Jersey.

Surely, the people who are applying for aid and visiting the FEMA centers have more important things on their minds than seceding from the union. You can call that a case of reality trumping political fantasy.



Source: (C) 2012 The Record, Bergen County, NJ. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved


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