Democrats & Liberals Archives

If At First You Don't Secede, Try, Try again!

Yes, you know pretty much what Rick Perry said the other day, and indeed, he seceded succeeded in putting his foot so far into his mouth that it will require surgery to remove it. Or at least, that’s what most people, even in Texas, would probably be thinking at this moment. Why aren’t the Republicans scrambling over each other, as the Party of Lincoln, to denounce this talk?

Glen Beck contributed his usual dose of calm and reason to this situation. And then our old friend Tom DeLay decided to chime in with more rational goodness.

I hope we will see more Republicans unequivocally denouncing this crap, because it really tells you how far from its roots this party has drifted when the Party of Lincoln is doing anything else than supporting the integrity of the Union. Should I remind them that the party that supported secession didn't get back into power for another generation or two after that, thanks to their little exercise of States Rights?

I mean, are Republicans today so deprived in their historical education that they don't remember that this is what the Rebellious, slave-holding Democrats went on about? The Republicans vanquished the monster of insurrection 144 years ago, brought the union back together, forged a nation that once called itself these united states into The United States.

I am a Texan, and as I was brought up, I was taught to say the pledge of allegiance to One Nation under God, not Two, and Indivisible, not divisible when the dominant party in the state is stewing in rage for having lost its power to the Democrats. I was brought up to believe in the rightness of the Constitution and the strong government and stronger liberties it created. I was brought up to be an American first, and then a Texan.

I have commented in the past that it is certainly strange for the GOP to have chosen Sarah Palin, a woman whose husband was a member of a secessionist movement up in Alaska before here ambitions became greater.

Why is this party betraying its origins as the party that stood up to those who would destroy America's sovereign unity? Is it just that desperate for the approval of those who claim to be patriots, but who are all set to turn against the rest of the nation and its constitutionally elected government?

Put plainly, the Republicans are flirting with treason. They are flirting with the politics of those who are only a few steps away, if any, from being the very enemies mentioned in the Constituional oath. They didn't get their way in the last couple elections, so in their desperation they're associating with these people. They're stirring up hatred of the government, hatred of the Federal system, hatred of everything that sustains it.

There is no good in even bringing up secession. From a PR point of view, it instantly brings up one of the worst internal conflicts in our nation's history, and even short of that calls up years of images of states invoking their rights to justify treating others as second class citizens, if not slaves. The only people who it appeals to are a distinct minority in this country who idolize that inherently un-american state of inequality, and the extraordinary means taken by those who did their absolute best to reinforce it and prevent its demise.

For those who believe in the rule of law and the sanctity of the constitution, it's an abomination. The constitution truly is not a suicide pact; it's the basis for a democratic republic where the whims of the few don't dictate the fate of the many, where the failure to cooperate as a whole nation is not an option.

People like DeLay, Perry, and other apologists were not shy about criss-crossing their states with Interstate Highways, with using the federal government to pay for big projects, or anything else of that kind. It's only now, when a crisis facing us all looms, and they find themselves with a popular, liberal president and Congress leading the response that they all of a sudden start to wave the bloody flag of states rights and bring up the threat of secession.

And these are the same people who lectured the rest of us about how to be Americans, lectured us about loyalty, lectured us about supporting a Commander in Chief when it mattered. I know some may point out that we questioned Bush's authority in his time, so what place do we have complaining about loyalty? Well, you didn't see us on 9/11 threatening to leave the union if the President didn't solve the crisis our way. Even to a fault, we initially supported the President. The President had to badly screw things up before many would decide that a loyal opposition had to be presented. And even then, we never took our eye off the ball of what was good for our country as a whole. We never threatened to pull New York, California, or New England out of the union. We were committed to one nation, indivisible. Barack Obama drew cheers from our party when in 2004 he offered a vision of an America united across party lines, across racial, ethnic and religious lines.

Barack Obama now faces the near total opposition of the opposite party in a time of national crisis, and though their methods and policies were badly discredited by events, the Right is determined to impose them on the majority. That is why they fight a rear guard political action both in now Senator Gillibrand's old district, and in Minnesota, with the Coleman-Franken race, which Franken's more or less won according to a rigorous, airtight marathon of proceedings.

There's a difference, I would observe, between fighting a fight because the alternative is unthinkable for you, and fighting a fight because you have a decent idea of how you're going to get what you want. People do a lot of things that are objectively stupid, counterproductive, and hypocritical, when they engage in battles to effect or prevent a certain outcome, but really don't go in with a serious notion of how they get from objective A to result B, nor how to tell when it's pointless, either for pragmatic or logical reasons, to try an continue the fight.

Years of Right Wing propaganda and the paranoia it's stirred up have lead many people to consider last November's results, sometimes literally, the end of the world. That raises the personal stakes for them, and blinds them to the problematic nature of their current strategies.

Such as members of the party of Lincoln suggesting a state may be free to leave the union. Truthfully, they may be able to get many of their constituents to overlook this problematic collision of the principles, but it only astounds the rest of the country. There is a lethal lack of emphathy in the Republican party nowadays, and I don't say that with the touchy-feely meaning of the word in mind. I mean that Republicans are, almost across the board failing to work out, or care what the rest of America thinks of them. I call this a lethal lack of empathy because those who do not understand the mindset of the folks they're appealling to cannot strategize effectively.

In their efforts to keep Bush President, and to make their majorities permanent, the Republicans got so singleminded in their pursuit of victory, so willing to do anything or say anything to win, that they cut themselves off from much of the criticisms and independent news and opinions sources that would keep them in touch, keep them honest. In the short term, it allowed them the political freedom to move their agenda along relentlessly, with other factions and parties looking on helplessly as they pushed their power to the limits. Over the longer term, such a willingness to do anything and say anything has drained the party of both awareness of and connection to the thinking and emotions of the political mainstream. It didn't help that the actions of those in government also left people with an impression that Republicans either couldn't get their policies right, or didn't care to, believing themselves above such limitations like accountability They believed that will alone could propel the party past it's troubles.

They"ve been proven wrong twice already, and at this rate, will likely be proved wrong again. But before that happens, what damage will they inflict? What will those on the right do in their attempts to try and stuff the Liberal genie back in the bottle?

Rick Perry's comments, to people like me,are fundamentally disturbing. They and the reception they get from a great number of people hint at the possibility that an irate minority:
1) not content to honor the basic rule of law;
2) not content to honor the social contract of our democratic, constitutional Republic;
3) not content to let a constitutionally appointed court interpret the law;
4) nor the elected representatives and senators of the states legislate it;
5) nor an unambiguously elected executive carry it out;

will take matters into their own hands if not appeased by the rest of us. The veiled threat of force, the language of open revolt and revolution... can we hear all that and not feel concerned, and being concerned not become even more opposed to any kind of appeasement?

If stunts like Perry's become common, become the theme as they arguably have, then there's going to be a great deal of political support for the Democrats and President Obama to more or less cut these people out, and live with the consequences. There's no real reason for them to do otherwise when an uncompromised right-wing agenda is the only compromise, the only bipartisanship they offer. And what other path will those people take, other than to push the angry, separatist rhetoric even further? It's coming to a point where even offering bipartisanship most of the time will become pointless.

And then what? Greater and greater radicalism, greater and greater hatred? When is the Republican party going to let go of this destructive course of action, and realize that the best path for it's future, and the future of this country will be one of unity and peacemaking? When are the Republicans going to remember the example of one of their founding father's, and do more to keep this country together, rather than tear it apart?

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at April 18, 2009 4:49 PM
Comment #280506

Stephen Daughtery,

Nice piece, all the hoopla shown by the right during the past few weeks and months is pretty telling. I hope that it is only a temporary phenomenon in reaction to the electorate’s rejection of the GOP’s conservatism in the past two elections and will subside with time.

I think the far right-wing is trying to make connections between conservatism and the patriotic activism displayed by our founders in the 1770s. The problem is that anyone who does not view the world through such a partisian lens can see that there is hardly a cause for such an analogy. Perhaps if an overwheming majority of the population supported a reduction in taxes in exchange for a reduction in governmental services, and the government was refusing to respond to the people’s views, then they would be right, but that is definately not the case today.

The place for right-wing activists to create change they can believe in is the ballot box, not the bullet box.

I think that it will be very difficult for the GOP to reconcile this right-wing fringe embodied with the tax day demonstrations and Gov Perry’s secession threats with its normal right-of-center policies. We saw Senator McCain and Governor Palin struggle with a few misinformed participants at a few of the rallies last year. For the next few years, it is going to be critical for the GOP to accomplish this, but it should be possible. The Democratic Party successfully backed off of some of its extreme left politics in the past decade while retaining the support of far-left voters; hopefully the GOP can do something similar.

With all the talk about how the GOP is going to refocus its appeal to younger voters, I do not see how they are going to make a good impression on young voters. This is the first time Generation Y people like me have see the GOP out of power; I was five years old when the GOP gained control of Congress in 1994, so I have never seen the GOP like this before, and I am very suprised. Let’s just say that it hasn’t been a good first impression. The impression that I have gotten from the GOP is that they are unwilling to respond to changing views among the electorate; they are unwilling to adapt to new political enviroments. This is a lesson they will need to learn in order to stay alive until the pendulum ultimately swings back to the right. The most profound example of the disconnect between the far-right Southern base of the GOP and the rest of the nation has been the complete disentergration of the GOP in the Northeast, especailly in New England, once a GOP stronghold. I wonder how the primary between Senator Arlen Spector and former Reperesetnative Pat Toomey plays out. If Toomey is the GOP candidate, he’ll surely lose the senate seate and GOP’s northeast collapse will only continue.

BTW, you might want to check the spelling of her(e) in the 6th paragraph.

Posted by: Warped Realtiy at April 18, 2009 6:09 PM
Comment #280507

Texas seceding makes as much sense as my pinky finger jumping off my hand and “doing it’s own thing”.

I would bet my life that 90%+ of Texans think this secession talk is idiocy at best, treason at worst. For people like Perry to even talk about it when there’s no crisis of the federal government overriding states rights is ignoring that fact that over half a million Americans died in order for The United to be in the United States for a far greater threat of secession than party lines, or federal taxes.

Posted by: Jon at April 18, 2009 6:15 PM
Comment #280509

Also, what the Republican party needs is a new direction.

Today when you ask someone what the Republicans stand for it’s 3 things which come right out:

1. Anti-Abortion/Pro-Life

Like there aren’t any pro-choice Republicans.

2. Anti-Gay Marriage/Gay in General

Like gays aren’t allowed to be conservative.

3. The “Christian” Party of Moral/Family Values

So there aren’t any Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, etc. conservatives.

And the last thing that people generally think of even though it’s the party’s dogma, is small goverment.

They really need to turn their party around by emphasizing economic and scientific issues and away from the social and moral platforms they’ve built over the last 30 years.

Posted by: Jon at April 18, 2009 6:33 PM
Comment #280522

S.D. asked: “Why aren’t the Republicans scrambling over each other, as the Party of Lincoln, to denounce this talk?”

They are impoverished, S.D. And like all impoverished people, they continue to hold onto what they have jealously, even if it is broken, and non-functional. Impoverishment breeds a kind of hoarding behavior. Republicans are trying to hold onto what elected officials they still have, even though those elected officials are causing the party to lose ever more ground with the majority of Americans.

That should be a lesson to the Democratic leadership. Our political soil is becoming ever more fertile for the rise of a third independent party to accommodate the new majority of independent registered voters. Democrats would do well to jettison some of their broken and outdated elected officials as well, if they intend to appeal to the Independent voters who will be determining national elections for many elections to come.

Specifically, the Democratic Party would do well to elect more Blue Dogs who understand the necessity of the current economic rescue spending, but, won’t tolerate such deficits after the economy is back on its own two feet again.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 18, 2009 8:37 PM
Comment #280534


As if Tom Delay ever believed in following laws. I am disturbed when talks shows like Matthews’ resurrects crooks like Delay, Ralph Reed, and Newt Gingrich. These men should be ridiculed off the screen anytime they appear, as Cristopher Hitchens did to Ralph Reed in a debate over his book God is not Great, by bringing up Abramhoff, or in Gingrich’s case being his own favorite charity, and being the only speaker ever fined $300,000.

Posted by: gergle at April 19, 2009 1:47 AM
Comment #280561

My Republican wife says secession might be best for Texas and the US both, but only if Mexico voices a willingness to reclaim it after the US gives it up…((:-( Hard liner, her…

Posted by: Marysdude at April 19, 2009 11:15 AM
Comment #280608

gergle, gergle, gergle,

Let the DeLay’s, Reeds, and Gingrich’s have all the air time they want. The more they speak, the more the Republican Party is damaged in the eyes of the majority of the voters - (that would be Democrats and Independents).

The Reeds, Palin’s and Huckabees are engaging in battle with the Gingrich’, Romneys, and McCains, who in turn are battling the Keyes and Pauls of the GOP. With three very different perspectives, ideologies, and directions for the GOP represented by these spokespersons, the more they are viewed and heard by the public, the more disintegrated, out of touch, and confused the GOP appears to voters, especially Independent voters.

I say give these folks a permanent TV show all their own to debate and argue with each other in perpetuity whether the GOP should be a religious party, an intellectual party, or no taxes ideological party of secessionists and anarchists.

It will make great entertainment and insure the GOP never rises to majority status again in federal government.

Now, the big question is, how can we get the Democrats to host their own show with the spending porkers in one corner like Pelosi and Murtha, the pragmatic social Democrats like Obama and Feingolds in another, and the ideological socialist purists like Dennis Kucinich in a third corner?

America needs a moderate centrist third party capable of garnering 2/3 of the Independent voters and a portion of the moderate Democrat and Republican voters to become the new majority in Congress. I hope we are moving in that direction.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 20, 2009 1:11 AM
Comment #280621

Texas is practically a foreign country anyway. I have connnections and relations in all parts of the country, but none in Texas. All Americans should support their independence, and then we should build a wall around it to keep the Texans out. It could be W’s legacy to us, another moment for the stopped clock to be right again.

Posted by: ohrealy at April 20, 2009 12:57 PM
Comment #280625

it is shocking. can’t imagine the uproar if a democrat had stated this. so, 2 of the most popular republicans in perry, and palin both support secession? where is the media? if not punished in court, they should both be tried in the media. and where is the liberal bias? you see, if there was a true liberal bias, we would have grabbed hold of this like a pitbull (w/or w/out lipstick), and rode it until their retirement or impeachment from political office. and, that is exactly what should happen. there is no excuse for such comment. each time a “leading” republican opens their mouth, i see a dying party. like when you look up a prior political party such as “federalist”, you will now see “republican” added to that list.

Posted by: bluebuss at April 20, 2009 2:12 PM
Comment #280742

Please, don’t generalize or stereotype Republicans, Texans or Conservatives. You don’t like it when Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich or Faux News does it to you.

I’ll try to explain a few things to you guys from a Texan’s perspective. First of all, talk of secession is not treasonous. To say that it’s not an option is denying an inalienable right. Also, to say that any state does not have the legal right to secede is akin to saying that the original founders did not have a right to organize seperately from Britain in the first place. Plus, one must only reread the Constitution for evidence, or the federalist papers for detailed interpretation.

Secondly, if Texas is so backwards, what harm could possibly be done to the US by allowing Texas to leave? Wouldn’t Texas fail as an independent nation? So, what’s the problem? If Texas would inevitably fail, why not let Texas secede and when the inevitable happens, the US would then get to hold Texas up as the poster child as all things wrong with Conservatism, Republicans, Free Markets, etc. There would be no debate, it would be definitively settled for all of eternity…or at least until life on earth ceases to exist.

Posted by: Texan 1st at April 21, 2009 4:43 PM
Comment #280747

then, go ahead leave america land that i love. but when you do, pay for your roads, schools, and ANYTHING that federal money paid for. really, fine by me. you did explain it so well, and you are right - time for texas to leave. better start standing in line for a passport - we will require that from you when you get back to reality.

Posted by: bluebuss at April 21, 2009 5:25 PM
Comment #280752

Texan 1st, excellent points.

I say if Texas wants to secede, let it become its own country. Then we can invade it and subjugate it to our own form of government like we did Iraq, and let the Texas oil pay for the invasion and conversion. :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 21, 2009 6:55 PM
Comment #280755

beautiful! i can see them now walking around with their purple thumbs held high in the air proud of their new puppet government. hey, and we won’t have to cover their social security, and medicare either. texas is a truly brave state. wait, did i mean brave? strike that, insert moronic.

Posted by: bluebuss at April 21, 2009 7:38 PM
Comment #280759

””“America needs a moderate centrist third party capable of garnering 2/3 of the Independent voters and a portion of the moderate Democrat and Republican voters to become the new majority in Congress. I hope we are moving in that direction. “”” :: The Best idea! “”“”“”” Secondly, if Texas is so backwards, what harm could possibly be done to the US by allowing Texas to leave? Wouldn’t Texas fail as an independent nation? So, what’s the problem?”“”“” The worst Idea Scary!

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 21, 2009 8:26 PM
Comment #280762

Nah…Texas can’t go…we’d just end up having to give it foreign aid…hmmm…maybe that’s why it talks about seceding??? Texas thinks it deserves more ‘stimulus’!

Posted by: Marysdude at April 21, 2009 9:30 PM
Comment #280778

David and Texan 1st, Not only is Texas still the biggest oil producer It’s also full of natural Gas ;) no 1 natural gas producer Texas, And active gas wells, Gas Producing Wells by US State
Texas 82,318.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at April 22, 2009 10:10 AM
Comment #280781

Rodney, yes. Texans rely on taxation of natural resource extraction to keep the evil state income tax from becoming a necessity. Unfortunately, Republicans have been hell bent on lowering those taxes. Which now threatens Texans with the potential of having no choice but to install a state income tax.

This is one of several reasons I believe Texas will going back over to Democrats over the next couple elections. Democrats don’t have a problem raising taxes on oil and gas extracts, like Sarah Palin in Alaska.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 22, 2009 11:58 AM
Comment #280827

Texan 1st-
I would agree with not stereotyping Republicans, since I once was one, Texans, since I am and always will be one, or a conservative, since I know quite a few good people who lean that direction.

But talk of secession? The irony is, this is not stereotypically Republican talk. It’s the stereotypical talk of the Democrats who tried to secede Texas from the union the first time around!. Given that there is no peaceful mechanism set up as of yet for a peaceful withdrawal from the union, and I’ve yet to have heard of any viable, federalist nation that has one, the secession of Texas from the union would likely be no less contentious this time around than the last time.

The Federalists, the folks who essentially pushed through the constitution for a stronger, more centralized government, would have been appalled at the idea of a state just up and seceding. They did their damned best to make sure everybody was on board; the Bill of Rights was added to make this stronger, more centralized national government more palatable to the folks who would eventually become the first Democrats.

I never mentioned Texas as being backwards because for the most part, it’s not, at least not in this day and age. If anything, it’s more modern and suburban than people give it credit for. It’s not a mainly rural state, population wise. So why you brought that up, I don’t know.

This is not me holding Bush against Texas, nor any of those other Yahoos out there This is me saying that even putting this on the table is a bad idea. You can do it, but God help your credibility. The last time we settled the issue of whether a state could secede, it was a bit of a disaster for our state.

I just regret that the Republicans, of all people, the Party of Lincoln, should have sunk so low that an idiot like Perry can say things like this and not have every Republican more or less taking the original Republican position: One Republic, indivisable, with unity and justice for all.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 22, 2009 11:01 PM
Comment #280860

Stephen Daugherty,

You can obviously tell I was playing the Devil’s Advocate. That was partially, only partially, toungue-in-cheek.

And you are right about the Federalists pushing for central “big” government. But that’s not the same guys writing the Federalist papers. And you are making things up about the purpose of the Bill of Rights. You do realize that the 1st Amdmt is basically a limit on the Federal Govt and not the States Government.

Also, you do realize that the 10th Amdmt says “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The Constitution is silent on the question of secession. And the states never delegated to the federal government any power to suppress secession. Therefore, secession remains a reserved right of the state.

The Republican Party is no more the “Party of Lincoln” than the Democrat Party is is the party of Free Soil Southerners.

Posted by: Texan 1st at April 23, 2009 5:45 PM
Comment #280940

It only looks bad if you don’t understand what’s going on in Texas politics.

Gov. Goodhair, apart from being an unmitigated idiot, is desperately trying to hold on to the “Bubba vote” in his upcoming gubernatorial battle with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Much like his refusal of desperately-needed stimulus funds targeted for extended unemployment benefits in a time of genuine crisis, he’s content to spout what amounts to treason, just as he’s content to let hard-working Texans go hungry, if it improves his chances of retaining the Republican nomination.

One can only hope he fails. He’s been a disaster as a governor, and despite the conservative nature of our state, both he and Hutchinson just might be in for a BIG surprise if the Democrats can field a legitimate candidate. That Kinky Friedman is now seeking the Democratic ticket spot after his failed Independent attempt last time around should tell you just how bad it’s gotten here.

Posted by: NANP at April 26, 2009 1:06 AM
Comment #281304

Texas 1st-
John Jay and Alexander Hamilton were definitely Federalists, and though Madison became a Democrat. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that Madison remained a firm proponent of greater government power.

The Bill of Rights was a compromise struck to get the anti-Federalists like Jefferson on board. But the rights apply across the board, at least after the 14th Amendment.

There is positively no evidence that the 10th amendment allows states to separate from the union. The constitution was meant to be a binding arrangement; the Federal government does have the right to put down insurrections, as is indicated by Article 1, section 8. Unless the federal government consents, the states can’t just absent themselves from federal control; that would be a rebellion against the constitutional government. Or in other words, insurrection.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 4, 2009 2:43 PM
Comment #281753


Maybe you need a “historical education” of your own…and not that far back

Feb 10, 2007

“SOMETHING interesting is happening in California. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to have grasped the essential truth that no nation — not even the United States — can be managed successfully from the center once it reaches a certain scale. Moreover, the bold proposals that Mr. Schwarzenegger is now making for everything from universal health care to global warming point to the kind of decentralization of power which, once started, could easily shake up America’s fundamental political structure.
Governor Schwarzenegger is quite clear that California is not simply another state. “We are the modern equivalent of the ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta,” he recently declared. “We have the economic strength, we have the population and the technological force of a nation-state.” In his inaugural address, Mr. Schwarzenegger proclaimed, “We are a good and global commonwealth.”Political rhetoric? Maybe. But California’s governor has also put his finger on a little discussed flaw in America’s constitutional formula. The United States is almost certainly too big to be a meaningful democracy. What does “participatory democracy” mean in a continent? Sooner or later, a profound, probably regional, decentralization of the federal system may be all but inevitable.”
Gar Alperovitz

“If this sounded extreme, the secessionists had an answer in the calm of American opinion. In an October, 2006, poll broadcast on CNN, 71 percent of Americans agree that “our system of government is broken and cannot be fixed.” A Daily Kos poll in April, 2007, asked, “Should states be allowed to secede from the union peaceably?” Sixty-nine percent of respondents answered in the affirmative. “

Christopher Ketcham, Good Magazine,

Oh how quickly thou art to forget !! The point of your entire tirade is moot. Those on the left were just as willing to entertain the idea of secession or “separation”, it was just different parts of the country doing the talking.

Go back and do some homework before you slam everyone on one side of the political spectrum

Posted by: Manin Blue at May 19, 2009 12:30 PM
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