“If at first you don’t secede, try again.” It’s not that the secession of states is a good idea — it’s not — but the truth is, we are not a United States anymore, and never have been. Were it not for the fact that the motivation for the Confederacy to break off was so odious — it was really about the states’ rights to hold fellow humans as slaves and brutalize them — I would have said let them go. The Southerners were nothing more than a bunch of genteel backstabbers who talked funny anyway. But still, I see Lincoln’s point when he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
The Civil War ended more than 155 years ago. And, amazingly, even after the grudging progress we’ve made from slavery through Jim Crow to those who still long for Jim Crow, we still have a bunch of regressives, like radio sage Rush Limbaugh, promoting secession. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his MAGA-teers (Make America Great Again is just another way of saying Jim Crow) have effectively left us with a Divided States. So why not?
Well, there are some practical considerations, like land mass. The lower 48 are geographic neighbors, in the same subdivision, although they are more like relatives with bitterly feuding hatreds. So that obviously isn’t convincing. Besides, how do you account for Alaska and Hawaii, and, for that matter, Puerto Rico, Samoa, the Virgin Islands and all those distant places? So that’s not it.
Is it that we are bound by a system of laws? That would be it, except when you have laws, you have lawyers, so you don’t really have laws. As we’ve witnessed with President Trump, we have attorneys ready to thwart the will of the people in this alleged democracy at the drop of a billable hour. Besides, when you have laws, you have lawmakers, Congresspeople and legislators who can be bought and sold. And you also have judges who are bound by their ideologies. Except in cases where the loser in the election goes bonkers and concocts legal impediments that out of necessity are, to use a technical term, shamelessly stupid.
Getting back to the political system ... it’s really a series of fiefdoms, not only in terms of federal, state and local entities, but also with all the other sub-jurisdictions, all of which have their own potential for corruption. While it’s easy to sneer at the politicians, in fairness, there were a few who stood up to the bizarro tactics of Donald Trump trying to save his own skin — some of them in his own party.
That does not include the 126 Republican House members who actually backed the brief in support of that last-minute far-fetched lawsuit initiated by the Texas state attorney general. A brief so asinine that the U.S. Supreme Court justices unanimously rejected even considering it. One has to ask, who elected those 126 congresspeople to begin with? Come to think of it, Texas politicians make a habit of trying to secede. Among the latest is Republican state Rep. Kyle Biedermann, who wants to establish a referendum for what he calls “Texit.” It will get to the point where the majority of our citizens try to simply ignore our politicians, which would make sense if it was not for the fact that they have life and death power over us. Still, that type of mental secession is the best America can do.
Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN; opinions are his own.