Secession talk far from extreme

Although he later downplayed his remark, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s use of the “S” word — secession — during one of the April 15 tea parties has focused attention on the growing gulf between the dramatic, unprecedented growth in the federal government’s power and spending, and efforts by individual states to maintain independent authority.
Any reference, however vague, to the notion that one of the 50 states might actually consider cutting the ties between it and Washington evokes howls of derision from the political establishment.

But the growing grass-roots sentiment that dramatic action is necessary to restore a semblance of balanced federalism in the country makes it likely such discussion will increase.

The fact that Perry also noted that some military veterans in the crowd at Austin might be “right-wing extremists” also reflected the growing chasm between government and citizens opposed to runaway federal spending and power.

The governor’s reference, echoed in other tea parties last week, was based on the fact that federal and state government law enforcement Web sites and publications characterize grass-roots organizations concerned about gun control, nationalization, unemployment, loss of civil liberties and excessive government spending, as “right-wing extremists” and “militants.”

That people would be viewed by our government as a possible threat because they express concern for the loss of freedom and our growing economic problems is itself so bizarre that references to secession are unsurprising.

Placing Perry’s remarks in the context of his position the previous day in support of a Texas state House resolution reaffirming support for the 10th Amendment strengthens the reasonableness of his position. On April 14, Perry expressed his “unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states’ rights affirmed by the 10th Amendment.”

He also noted that he and “millions of Texans are tired of Washington, D.C., trying to come down here and tell us how to run Texas.” Are such views “extreme”? Do they not, rather, reflect mainstream and historically accurate sentiments? After all, is not the resolution Perry supported simply a reaffirmation of the very words of and the philosophy underlying the 10th Amendment?

Much of the media, in addition to characterizing Perry’s comments as “reckless” (the words of one Texas newspaper), also have attempted to paint such views as economically irresponsible. This view is premised on the “loss” of federal funds that would befall Texas or any other state that might sever ties to Washington. In fact, many of the 50 states send more in tax dollars to Washington than the states and its citizens receive from the feds — making secession actually not that bad a business deal (Texas about breaks even).

In fact, the sky likely would not fall if some serious moves were made to break the stranglehold the federal government now maintains on virtually every aspect of state and local governments. There are, in fact, some examples starting to surface. The RealID program, with its mandate of a national identification card, has been brought largely to a standstill because of state opposition.

And at least a few states — Texas and South Carolina among them — are refusing President Barack Obama’s “stimulus monies” because of the strings attached.
Who knows? If Texas were to secede, the state might enjoy a significant inward migration of independent-minded citizens from other states, and precipitate a real boom in its economy.

Regardless, simply musing about such things, as did the Texas governor, is neither subversive nor pointless.

120 comments Add your comment

Lewis

April 23rd, 2009
8:47 am

I appreciate Mr. Barr commenting on this topic, but I think his assumption–that the mere presence of discussion indicates people hate our federal government as much as he does–is specious.

steve snow

April 23rd, 2009
8:54 am

Does Bob Barr really believe this moronic notion he has written? Bob Barr needs a job, to prevent him from having too much leisure time to think stupid thoughts. Wait a minute, Bob Barr for georgia governor.

Pat

April 23rd, 2009
9:05 am

Bob, I disagree with most all of your political views. But you were dead-on correct in sounding the alarm over Bush’s radical power grab and dismantling of our Constitutional civil liberties in the name of “the war on terror.”

Now, you’ve really disappointed me with your not-so-veiled defense of secessionists. The bloodiest war in our history was fought because of this school of thought, so it’s far from harmless “musing.” Secession talks are the hard currency of yes, ultra-right, extremist, usually racist fringe groups. Are these really who you want as idealogical neighbors?
It’s the radical right, not left, in recent years who haven’t hesitated to use violence. These discussions validate and encourage more violent actions.
Most U.S. citizens, conservative and liberal, are proud to be Americans and love their country, even if they don’t approve of all actions of its government. Turning your back on the United States of America is no small thing.

But for me, the most infuriating aspect of all of this type of talk is that NO ONE – not the most liberal of our “blue states” – spoke of leaving America because of the Bush administration or the GOP’s lock on power.
No one. Only NOW – now that we have a black president, now that Bush policies have FORCED us to spend enormous sums in a desperate attempt to stop the freefall of our economy – only now, is the egregious spending and staggering “abuse of power” (the top 1% pay more taxes? Oh, the humanity! It’s the Apocalypse!)offensive enough to rise to the level that talk of secession starts.

Writing this column makes you a hypocrite, Bob. Why weren’t you suggesting secession as a viable possibility well worthy of discussion when Bush trampled on the Constitution?

Maggiee

April 23rd, 2009
9:51 am

Texas can only secede if it takes South Carolina with it and promises never to come back. Buh-bye!

Fat Sean

April 23rd, 2009
10:33 am

Leave already! Go! Enjoy dealing with the Mexican drug gangs with only your state budget. I mean, scummy military men lied about Mexico attacking US territories to start the war to make Texas a state. We got the place by amoral means, let’s give it back.

Copyleft

April 23rd, 2009
11:47 am

They were always hypocritical… they just used to be better at hiding it.

Now they’re just pathetic.

Jimbo

April 23rd, 2009
12:57 pm

You guys are funny.. you realize that Texas provides 10% of our military recruits and pays more in federal taxes than it receives back in federal funding, right? You realize that right now it might not make sense to dissolve the Union, but a very real threat to the solvency of our nation exists right around the corner. According to the David M. Walker, the former Comptroller General of the United States (The US’ accountant) the country is going to drown under its financial obligations and benefits paid out through social security and medicare. These obligations will cost over $50 TRILLION.. When the nation is bankrupt because of these clowns in both parties, you might see a little more serious talk about dissolution and more frightfully, it might even start to make sense. If you believe that one party is better than the other I’d ask you why democrats voted for USA-PATRIOT. I’d ask why Obama’s voting record closely resembled McCain’s on matters regarding the war and the counter-terrorism. I’d ask why USA-PATRIOT hasn’t been repealed. You think conservatives and liberals are so different and that the parties support your myriad views, but they’re in it for themselves and the sooner you realize that our petty system of bread and circuses is destined to fail, the better off we’ll be. We’ve become a nation of blind marionettes.

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar

April 23rd, 2009
1:26 pm

Jeff Davis took out the trash. Lincoln was dumb enough to bring it back in.

Please. Go now.

Good luck. You’re going to need it.

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar

April 23rd, 2009
1:29 pm

Cons are stuck in the 60s. The 1860s.

The secesh crowd was, is, and always will be just a bunch of knuckledragging ignoranuses.

Democrap Party

April 23rd, 2009
1:45 pm

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar, didn’t you get banned from Bookmans blog?

Compact Theorists versus Nationalists

April 23rd, 2009
5:47 pm

What we’re really seeing here is the reopening of a very old debate: Compact Theorists versus Nationalists. For decades, kids have been taught the Nationalist Theory in public schools, which is the idea that the Constitution was established among the “people of the United States” in aggregate, not as a voluntary compact amongst the states themselves.

Although the Nationalist Theory is incorrect and always has been, Nationalists inevitably resort to the “Might makes Right” argument of last resort, since the Nationalists won the Civil War, right? Wrong. As Robert Hawes writes in his article, “Nullification Revisited”:

“Might makes right is the most sophisticated reason an authoritarian needs to do anything, although the idea tends to sell better if he wraps it in Old Glory and calls it “patriotism,” while simultaneously demonizing his opposition as “anarchists” and/or “anti-American…However, others of a less philosophically rigid sort understand that physical force cannot discredit an idea…”

You can read his entire article at:
http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=57

Derek

April 23rd, 2009
6:01 pm

The idea that secession is somehow right wing or a reaction to Obama is simply false. The most robust secession movement is in leftist Vermont and gained lots of attention during the Bush administration. Neither is the Hawaiian sovereignty movement or the Lakota Sioux particularly conservative. The Middlebury Institute, headed by Kirkpatrick Sale (who is left wing and very environmentalist) has been the loudest voice promoting secession for many years. It is hardly a right wing group.

The bottom line is that talk of secession in America has always been a reaction to Washington, D.C.’s consolidation of power at home and its empire building abroad.

nathan

April 23rd, 2009
7:41 pm

stop it!!! I am for it!!! You all sound liberal!!! Obama is doing this!!!

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar

April 24th, 2009
8:43 am

Yes, Mr. Crap. Little Jay banned me. He doesn’t like it when I post the terrible truths about you so-called conservatives…

I’ve also been banned from Stormfront and PeachPundit and the creepy Freeper boards.

So Little Jay has his fellow travelers. So so much for the AJC and free speech.

(I can’t post on the Woo-tan board either, but why would I want to?)

Brett Pike

April 24th, 2009
10:32 am

The issue of the military bases is not trivial. At present the country is easily defensible as we have control of both coastlines as well as neighbors who, while not trouble-free, are generally cognizant of the fact that their economies are irreversibly geared to ours.

So, in the event that the citizenry of Texas reclaim their sovereignity, what is to be the fate of facilities such as Randolph AFB? It would appear that America’s ability to insert troops has progressed to the point where it’s not tactically necessary to keep them everywhere all the time. Does the Texas Air National Guard step up, or does the state assume Okinawa-type status, in as far as being an American protectorate?

reasonable

April 24th, 2009
10:42 am

Derek – reread my comments, I did not say anything about what I would do or not do. What I stated was the simple fact that attempts to find a legal basis for seccession were misstating the historical facts regarding why rebel leaders were not tried and that at the time there were many who advocated execution due to the trauma of their losses during the Civil War. This was to show that Lincol’s policies and their impact on various surrender documents were a result of a sense of the need to rebuild the country, not some fear of the legal justification for secession (a legal justification which had and has absolutely no chance of being upheld). Also, I made a simple statement of reality, every Prsident since Lincoln would be forced under their oath of office and precedent to put down any rebellion (which by definition would include attempts to secede and certainly could include use of armed force)against the nation. The whole point was to show the utter absurdity of the idea of seccession. Perhaps if the point that the country was not going to peacefully agree to its dissolution in 1860, when Buchanan was still President, had been made more forcefully, southern hotheads would never have gathered such a head of steam. It is important to remember that secession in 1860 was not a popular issue throughout much of the South. Instead, it was a stampede generated by the hotheads among the Deep South political elite, a group which did not, by the way,take a significant part in either the fighting or the political leadership of the Confederacy. As to the barbaric status of 1860, please remember that the underlying cause of seccession and the war was the southern defense of slavery and its desire to expand it into the territories. Ultimately, all wards are barbaric and have complex causes. Sometimes, however, their results justify the awful costs. Very few people would disagree that the destruction of Hitler’s Nazism was necessary. The same is true with destruction of slavery. Please understand, I am not making the simplistic comparison of Nazi Germany and the Confederacy, just that results of two very different wars justified their awful costs. Finally, the relevant point for my Republican friends was that Perry was engaging in this rhetoric to position himself to the right of the conservative Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, labelling her as a Washington insider, in the upcoming Texas Republioan governor’s primary. My contention is and will remain, playing with political gasoline from either the right or the left to further personal ambition and fire up the far right ot left is irresponsible. Ultimately, there can be no such thing as peaceful seccession, therefore waving that banner without regard for the consequences to the nation, the people and even one’s own followers is terribly irresponsible.

[...] know what we’d do without them, but they’re pretty confident about what they’d do without us.  MY wife is a Texan, MY dad is an adopted Texan, and there’s no shortage of pride from [...]

Anonymous

April 25th, 2009
3:55 am

Yeah the party of lincoln now wants to quit the Union. You republicans are seriously a mess right now, 4 months into a democratic administration and your already talking about quitting America?

Taxes are going back to 1990’s levels, and Obama is spending a bunch of money putting people to work so we dont have mobs of unemployed people(Aka the stimulus). Healthcare is going to become cheaper… seriously why would you want to secede? This isnt fascism, its normal throughout western countries. And since we live in a democracy in 4 years you can elect a republican again, if thats what the people want. Civil war isnt the answer and the party of Lincoln should know that.

Mark

May 2nd, 2009
5:49 pm

I find it rather ironic that a representative from Texas favors proposed federal legislation that, in essence, would require college football to utilize a playoff system. First, Texas Republicans want to secede; the next day, Texas Republicans — the party supposedly for limited federal government — want to use the power of the federal government to dictate how the NCAA selects the national championship. If only hypocrisy like this were a crime…

Gerald Spencer

May 4th, 2009
8:34 am

If Alaska secedes, the Federal lands do NOT go with the state. Secession, therefore, is a failed concept for states where the vast majority of the property are Federal holdings.