A Writer Writes
Our un-United States: Secede, Nullify, Defy
by Gerald Karey (Turkey 1965–67)
In our great nation of some 300 million unruly, cussedly independent souls, someone is bound to be unhappy with government for one reason or another.
In fact most are — whether it’s because of taxes, regulations, foreign policy, motorcycle helmet rules, posted speed limits or pot holes. It runs the gamut. To paraphrase a line from the Jacques Brel song, Sons Of . . . , “Who is the citizen without complaint?”
But unlike other countries where complaining about the government can get you thrown into jail, in the U.S. ranting, venting and bitching about government is a national pastime. It may not change anything, you may not get any satisfaction, but, damn it, you can and will be heard.
In fact, you can be heard in the White House, via a White House web site, “We The People” — with which you can directly petition the White House. If a sufficient number of people sign your petition, the White House will respond to it. Not necessarily grant it, mind you, but respond to it, if only to say, “Are you kidding us.”
When I last checked three years ago, some of the petitions were weirdly serious (or seriously weird), such as dissolving the current legal system and replacing it with a single Hall of Justice, or having motorcycle-riding law officers acting as police, judge and jury.
But that is not enough for many citizens, and some 150 years after the start of the Civil War — which should have settled the question of secession on its bloody battlefields — thousands of Americans were petitioning the Obama administration to have their states leave the United States and become independent countries.
According to an article posted on Yahoo! News on November 14, 2012, petitions from all 50 states had been filed. Okay, at least people were asking, not donning butternut.
This from an Alaskan who petitioned to secede “from a dysfunctional Union that is run by corrupt politicians who buy the votes of individuals who can no longer be seen as American citizens but rather, slaves to a tyrant.
We declare Washington DC to be the domestic enemy to the freedom and liberty of all Alaskans and indeed, 50% of the free citizens of the USA. Therefore, we declare our secession in support of the US Constitution. LET MY PEOPLE GO!
And from Virginia, the heart of the old Confederacy [as submitted]:
Obama Federal Government Corruption, Lies,and Cover-Ups.Including potential Voter Fraud, with the Obama Admin.behind and Fostering the Ruination of Country, Laws,and Constitution, from every aspect of Governing, circumvention of the Law of The Land, and Utilization of Bureaucratic means to bypass the Will of THE PEOPLE.
I wonder how much of any of this has to do with having an African-American president. Just an idle thought.
Even Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, the once and future candidate for the presidency of all 50 states, I presume — after all, who wants to be president of a rump republic — chimed in. Perry mused that given Texas’s unique history (it was a self-proclaimed republic before it became a state), it . . .
would be able to leave [the Union] if we decided to do that. . . if Washington continues to thumb their [sic] nose at the American people, you know, who knows what may come out of that? But Texas is a very unique place and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.
Perry’s press office clarified: “Gov. Perry believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it,” it said. “But he also shares the frustrations many Americans have with our federal government. Now more than ever our country needs strong leadership from states like Texas.”
But if you can’t secede — at least not just yet — you can, in the tradition of Southern politicians who stood in schoolhouse doors to prevent implementation of Federal orders to desegregate, nullify or defy, or disobey the law.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is advising states to ignore Environmental Protection Agency regulations to control emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Refusing to go along at this time with such an extreme proposed regulation would give the courts time to figure out if it is even legal, and it would give Congress more time to fight back . . .. We’re devising strategies now to do just that. So for now, hold back on the costly process of complying. A better outcome may yet be possible.
Wait a minute. These EPA regulations have the force of law and the Supreme Court has upheld the agency’s authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Senate Majority leader is advising states to disobey the law?
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore last month told state probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, defying a ruling by a federal judge that the Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
Probate courts in about two-thirds of the state’s counties closed their doors rather than issue the licenses. After a February 9 U.S. Supreme Court decision not to disturb the federal judge’s ruling, Probate Court judges began issuing the licenses.
Last year, for the second time in two years, both chambers of the Missouri legislature passed bills to nullify federal gun laws that infringed on “people’s rights to keep and bear arms.”
The House version of the “Second Amendment Preservation Act” declared all federal laws “invalid” if they “infringe on people’s rights to keep and bear arms.” It also gave residents the right to sue federal agents who try to enforce federal statutes. The Senate bill subjected federal agents to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Reuben, Reuben, I’ve been thinking, what a good world this might be, if all the laws and regulations were dumped into the northern sea.
A libertarian dream, perhaps, but a lawless nightmare to some of us.
Gerald Karey taught English in a middle school in a Turkish village from 1965 to 1967. After the Peace Corps, he worked as a general assignment reporter for two newspapers in New Jersey, and for a McGraw-Hill newsletter in Washington, D.C., where he covered energy and environmental issues. A collection of his essays entitled Unhinged, was published in October, 2014.