If it weren’t for what it brings to mind in regard to one of the bloodiest and most inhuman conflicts the country has ever had the misfortune of going through, namely the Civil War, it would almost actually be funny. Imagine that more than 100,000 people in – where else? – the great state of Texas, and thousands of others in all of the other states, even places like California and New York, have petitioned the White House to secede from the Union. Not to worry, of course, because it obviously is not going to happen; still, who even knew anyone was thinking about such a thing?
It does, though, go to show the depth of anger, bitterness, and sense of betrayal engendered in many by the recent presidential race, leading up to the second-term election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. It has always amazed, puzzled, and frankly sometimes terrified me to see the depth of hatred – and I think that is not too strong a word – that many people in this country feel toward Pres. Obama. Sadly, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that much of it is based on plain old bigotry, that is, racial animus and bias, exacerbated by what I would call the mildly liberal agenda of our current president.
The difference is that I heard liberals say that, if Romney were to win, they would be the ones to move, probably to Canada. Now, to be honest, that too is very likely as much of a load of malarkey as is all this secessionist talk. In fact, I’ve heard the same thing from liberal friends about pretty much every conservative president from Reagan on down the line, and frankly I’ve yet to have the opportunity to go visit anyone who’s actually moved on to become a refugee, comfortably ensconced by the fire up in Toronto, or trying to stay out of the rain in Vancouver. The difference, though subtle, is that progressives talk about moving, while the conservative strategy, apparently, would be to stay and keep their holdings. Take Joseph Farah, as just one example of the many far right crazies out there, who recently said on his ultra-conservative website “World Net Daily”: “I am convinced we’ve got to begin forming new communities of the faithful and declare our separation and independence once again, just as our courageous forefathers did 236 years ago. We need to be prepared to defend ourselves, our families, our fortunes and our sacred honor. Barack Obama was right about one thing: America is no longer a Christian nation. Our cultural institutions have been taken over by worshippers of other gods. More than half of the population has turned its back on God’s Commandments.”
You definitely do not hear the words “move on” or “leave” or “let’s get the hell out of this place” from archconservatives. No! Instead, it’s more like “declare separation,” “form new communities (where they currently are),” and “defend ourselves, our families, and (of course) our sacred honor.” It fits right in with the conspiracy theorists, who are building bunkers and stockpiling canned goods, along with caches of ammunition and semi-automatic weapons, in preparation for the cultural Armageddon that is sure to come. It’s kulturkamph, some would say, all over again, that attack in the 1870’s by Otto von Bismarck on the Catholic Church in which hundreds of priests and bishops, along with their faithful followers, were expelled from Prussia. In fact, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia even references kulturkamph, or its direct translation, “culture war,” in more than one of his written opinions.
All this brings to mind another opinion, this one stated just yesterday by none other than the losing candidate, himself, Mitt Romney. In a talk to his disappointed major donors, he is quoted as saying that “the Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that he hoped could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls.” He goes on to specify who he’s talking about, namely, African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people. I suppose he might have mentioned women, too, and maybe even gay people, if they even counted in his mind, which I very much doubt that they do. But doesn’t this sound an awful lot like those moochers, those freeloaders, that 47% of the American population (according to his tally, anyway), who basically want to live off of the back-braking hard work of the God-fearing, money-making, tax-paying, overburdened straight white males, who do all the work in this damn country anyway?
But what actually are these “gifts” that we’re talking about? It can’t be anything other than the right to be educated, to find a job, to work to better yourself and your family, to be able to afford health care, such that if you’re sick you don’t have to go into bankruptcy, to say nothing of someday being able to buy a house, or at very least afford a rental apartment to live in. Romney was pulling no punches. Apparently he felt that there was no longer any need for him to dissimulate, sneak behind anybody’s back and say this only in the privacy of an exclusive banquet room. No more need to try to make the public believe that he was some kind of compassionate conservative. He went on to say that these were the people who made between $25,000 and $35,000 a year, but who want healthcare. Can you imagine? Poor people (or at least struggling lower middle class people), who actually have the temerity to think that they should get medical attention in the event of an accident or an illness. Why, it’s unheard of! And he specifies Blacks and Hispanics as those who are particularly pushy in this regard. Black and brown people who want the same care he and his white family have always been able to afford – imagine!
He goes on at some length to list other such “gifts” that Obama supporters were essentially bought of by, things like “amnesty for the children of illegals,” and the extension of healthcare on their parents’ policies for people 26 and under, which supposedly brought many college aged women into Obama’s camp. These are the “gifts” Romney is talking about. But it’s funny, to me they just seem an awful lot like the things that a majority of the American people actually want and deserve. You know, the things that a certain segment of the population has always had, and which they want to hold on to: education, jobs, health care, ability to afford a home etc. And who wouldn’t? That’s exactly the point, in fact. These things are not gifts at all, they are basic human needs and desires that everyone wants and requires for themselves and their families. And to have the audacity to refer to them as “gifts” merely shows how out of touch Mitt Romney is from so much of the experience of everyday Americans.
So, if there were any possibility, I guess I would say that maybe we actually ought to let this minuscule portion of the population secede that seems to want to do so. We could give them a couple of counties, maybe, someplace where the rest of us don’t want to live anyway, and see how well they fare. But since even that isn’t going to happen, for now all we can say is let’s stop getting distracted by this secessionist craziness and get on with the business of attempting to deal with the innumerable problems that actually face this country. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof, the nuns always told me in grammar school. There’s no need to manufacture more.
I only hope the Joseph Farah’s of the world hear that, and work with the rest of us, rather than trying to do everything in their power to bring about greater disharmony. And let’s let poor Mitt Romney, too, slink off to one of his mansions, where he can pay for all the medical help he needs to lick his wounds and recover from the political pummeling he so richly deserved.