You have probably heard that after the election numerous petitions for states to secede from the union have been sent to the White House, a few of them with more than 25,000 signatures, with Texas gathering over 100,000 (countered by a petition from Austin, Texas of 5,000 requesting to remain in the union should the rest of Texas secede)(*1).
The petition from Alabama was initiated by the owner of a car wash which was shut down because of its topless attendants. The city of Mobile closed it down, not the U. S. government, but no matter, secession still seemed the solution to owner Derick Belcher, and about 30,000 other signers used the opportunity to express their discontent, too, though there is no telling how many decried the loss of those topless girls as opposed to other grievances.
I imagine some of the thinking of other secessionists is a bit sounder than Mr. Belcher’s, but I doubt whether a single petition would have been filed had Mitt Romney won. Not that a Romney win would have saved Mr. Belcher’s car wash, or even likely have made government a smidgeon smaller, it just would have symbolized less government interference in everyone’s personal economy. Because Mitt Romney said so.
The Texas petition begins with these words: “The US continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government’s neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending.” Again, I assume these Texans believe Romney would change all that, or at least be a step in the right direction.
I doubt if many of the secessionists read The Economist, a weekly British magazine well regarded world wide. It has a high estimation of the benefits of capitalism and less government but even they could not back Mitt Romney: “Many of The Economist’s readers, especially those who run businesses in America, may well conclude that nothing could be worse than another four years of Mr Obama. We beg to differ. For all his businesslike intentions, Mr Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says.”
The secessionists aren’t seceding from the union. They’re seceding from Barack Obama. Following four years of his being branded as a foreign born Muslim socialist while black as well, it is easy to see why they feel that way, despite the image being eons removed from reality, except the black part. Just by not being Obama, Mitt Etch-a-Sketch could appear to be a big improvement, especially when he said things like “the less government the better”.
Angry people want a target for their anger, someone to blame and spew venom upon. Those on the right target Obama, but I think he is simply a symbol of rapidly changing times that produce anxiety and fear which lead to anger. Foremost technological change, but social change as well, and the only thing moving slowly is our economy. Its sluggishness is likely to remain so for quite some time and many sense that never again will it offer good paying jobs for those not highly educated, at least technologically so. Those old high-paying semi-skilled assembly line jobs at the car factories, for example, are never coming back (*2). While gay marriage and the non-white populations will continue to grow.
While of course there is a big racial element in Barack Obama’s becoming such a prime target of dislike, even hate, it is only one part of an image of “the other than ourselves” cemented by foreign and socialist caricatures which provide more acceptable reasons to reject him.
He symbolizes a world changing at break neck speed from the much slower, simpler America many of us grew up in. These newest of rebels don’t want to secede from the United States, they want to secede from the 21st century. At times I have such cravings myself, but I don’t blame Barack Obama for it all.
Seceding from the union, even if it were to be allowed, won’t counteract these changing times, especially for you and your carwash Mr. Belcher.
(*1) What has made this all possible was the White House having a “We the People” response section on their web site. It is one more example of the law of unintended consequences.
(*2) While American manufacturing is coming back, many of its jobs are not according to a recent world study: “Manufacturing contributed 20 percent of the growth in global economic output in the decade ending in 2010, the McKinsey researchers estimate, and 37 percent of global productivity growth from 1995 to 2005. Yet the sector actually subtracted 24 percent from employment in advanced nations.”