Let 'Em Secede

If residents in Southern states want to secede from the Union, they should just go already.

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From top to bottom, The United States, Alabama and Mississippi flags are seen flying from poles located on the south lawn of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Ala., Monday, May 21, 2001. The Alabama flag was approved by the Legislature in 1895, 30 years after the Civil War ended, but it contains a St. Andrew's cross like the Confederate battle flag and is cherished by Southern heritage groups as a Confederate symbol.

As the holidays approach, many of us are faced with a seasonal conundrum: the case of some annoying relative who persists in making various demands on the holiday celebrations ("I won't come if you serve murdered meat at Thanksgiving!"' or "I'm not coming if you invite my ex's new spouse; they've only been married 22 years"). If, as the brilliant novelist Mary Karr has observed, a dysfunctional family is a family with more than one person in it, many of us are faced with these little annual theatrics. And we wonder whether to appease—yet again—or draw the line in the mashed potatoes for once and for all.

And so perhaps it's time to say this to those residents of (mostly southern) states filing petitions to secede from the United States: Oh, just go, then.

[Read Robert Schlesinger: No, Texas Can't Secede]

In Alabama, "Derrick B." has filed papers saying that "We petition the Obama Administration to peacefully grant the State of Alabama to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own new government. So far, the document has attracted 4,426 signatures, reports al.com. (Oh, and way to stand behind your convictions, Derrick No-Last-Name.)

Would this be such a burden for the rest of the country? It's not like Alabama is going to be able to mount a military assault against its new foreign neighbor. They would be literally surrounded—a situation that could at once make them feel more secure and more ill at ease. One thing impoverished Alabama would lose is all that cash the federal government gives to the state in the form of Medicaid, food stamps, and other monies. But you really want to go? Godspeed, Alabama.

[Check out editorial cartoons about President Obama.]

Then there's Texas, which was in the news not long ago because a local judge, Tom Head, speculated that there would be civil war if President Barack Obama won re-election, and wondered if he'd have to call out the militia. Perhaps Texans think that because their state is so big, they could make it on their own. Go ahead; it will be entertaining to see Texas deal with southern border issues without federal money or guidance. And even more fun when Texans themselves will have to get passports to come to the United States. Oh—by the way, Texan secessionists, if you manage to come up north and work off the books, you won't get Social Security or even a living wage. Good luck avoiding the immigration authorities.

And Florida, too, has its secession-minded citizens. Think we'll miss you, do you? We're all getting a little tired of your election dramas, made even more irritating this year when Florida wasn't necessary to determine the winner of the presidential election. And what, exactly, do you think you can export—hurricanes? Don't forget that international issues—such as refugees coming from Haiti and Latin America—get a little more complicated and expensive when you don't have the political and financial weight of the United States behind you. But if Floridians can't bear the thought of a second Obama term, buh-bye.

[See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

We live in a country with diverse political opinions, as well as a diverse racial and ethnic makeup. It's logical that a number of people might be deeply disappointed that their candidate did not win. It is not logical to be so convinced that American civilization as we know it will dissolve that one would actually advocate dissolving the union itself. But hey, if things are that bad, take the advice of the candidate who came in second in the presidential contest. Just self-deport.

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