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Mares: Secession Revisited

(Host) With post-election petitions to secede flowing into the White House, writer, former state legislator and commentator Bill Mares reflects on real and fanciful moves to leave the Union .

(Mares)Since President Obama's re-election, numerous petitions to secede from the union have arrived at the White House. They're made up of approximately 600,000 signatures from all 50 states - or roughly 2 tenths of one percent of all Americans. The hotbed of this modern-day secession movement is Texas , whose governor Rick Perry referred to it publicly during his brief run for the presidency. The Texas secede web site insists that, is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect it's citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties...

Secession is a topic I've thought about before. 25 years ago, UVM professor Frank Bryan and I wrote a book that speculated about how Vermont might secede from the union. We titled it, OUT, The Vermont Secession Book with the sub-title, We won't make that mistake again. We invented a covenant supposedly signed by Ethan Allen and George Washington giving Vermont the right to secede whenever we became sufficiently angered by federal actions. We imagined a currency backed by pure maple syrup which was stored in the Granite quarries of Barrie . We proposed to sell products like fresh air, Bag-Balm, dried cow manure and hand-size plots of land (100 square inches) so that millions could own a piece of Vermont. And so on . We me ant the book to be a satirical spoof. But these New Secessionists - like the birther movement to cast doubt on Obama's citizenship - are no joke.

I grew up in Texas so I know from experience how some residents of the Lone Star State view the world . My elementary school textbook was titled The true history of the war between the states, from a southerners' point of view. We were taught that in 1845, the United States joined Texas in a new Union. And a popular song of the era was Save that confederate money boys, The South will rise again.

But the urge to secede isn't limited to either the South or the Conservative Right. Before the Election six different friends sent me an open internet letter proposing that the Blue states should secede if Romney won - because, among other things, they claimed that:

62% of those in the Red states believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 ,and 38% that Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale.

Fortunately,in most of the country cooler heads have prevailed. At Mississippi State University campus newspaper student editors warned against this internet sensation this way:

To those who signed petitions to secede from the union, think long and hard about what that signature implies. Abraham Lincoln once said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Finally, the secessionist fire no longer burns in Rick Perry's belly. According to his press secretary, the Governor believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it.

Writer Bill Mares of Burlington is also a former teacher and state legislator. His most recent book is a collection of his VPR commentaries, titled "3:14 And Out."
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