Apparently, waxing ecstatic about your state seceding from the United States is all the rage. Petitions by members of nearly each of the 50 states have been filed on the White House’s “We The People” website. “We The People” allows citizens to create a petition, and if they get a certain number of signers (currently, 25,000), they’ll receive a response from the White House. Some of the states have already achieved the 25,000 signatures required, such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Most that have passed the threshold have just around the 25,000 signatures required, but Texas has nearly 100,000 currently (are you surprised?).
Every state has its fringe elements; Alaska is no exception. We have at least three petitions for secession at “We The People”. The one that prompted this post, titled “Peacefully grant the State of Alaska to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government”, had 32 signers yesterday, and 34 today. At that rate, we’ll have enough signatures for an official White House response by the year 2046.
I stumbled across another one, “allow Alaskans a free and open election to decide whether or not Alaska should Secede from the United States”, that was also created yesterday that has significantly more signatures (as of this writing, 6,543). That one basically asks for a do-over of the 1958 vote for Alaskan statehood. There are a number of people in Alaska that believe that the statehood vote was administrated poorly or illegally, or that fraud was involved. In fact, Alaska has a political party that is apparently based upon this idea. (You might recall some hubbub during the 2008 election about Sarah/Todd Palin ties to the party.)
Hey, and here’s another: “ALLOW ALASKA TO SECEDE FROM A DYSFUNCTIONAL UNION”. It has just over 1,300 signatures.
All of these petitions fail to offer a reason as to why we’d be better off no longer being a part of the United States. A lot of the same people that I’ve heard think out loud about Alaska becoming its own country are also the same people who also act as if they’re more patriotic than others… the people that like to tell you that your beliefs are un-American. It’s bizarre.
But seriously, have these people really thought secession through? Let’s assume the White House responds to the petition and says, “Sure. No problem. You’re on your own.” (By the way, this would be the opposite response that George Washington would respond with. Whiskey Rebellion ring a bell?)
Seriously, how many states could afford to survive without the support of the rest of the United States? If each of those states seceded, I’m guessing they’d each need their own military. How many states can afford a single fighter jet? How about the EPA, or FEMA, or the FBI/CIA/NSA? You think there’s bureaucracy now? Imagine the hassle of a company trying to do business in multiple states, dealing with multiple different state EPAs. What about the money we’ve paid into Social Security; would that be paid back or would the Feds keep it? And for Alaska to play this silly charade, it’s downright troubling, if not also ridiculous. Alaska, a state that relies so heavily on Federal largesse, one that elects the same people to Congress decade after decade due to their ability to bring home the proverbial bacon, a state that has … what, 5 military bases? Would we really be better off severing those ties? Sure, we can talk tough… talk about how without Federal intervention we could tap and drill whatever and whenever we wanted — starting with ANWR — and we’d be completely independent and flush with cash (of course, we might need to wait and see what our current legislature and Governor does with oil taxes to see just how much that extra production would impact revenue), but the bottom line is that many, many Alaskans would be in a world of hurt without help from any number of federal agencies that provide service to our state. People would die.
I believe that our nation is great because its sum is bigger than its individual parts. There are things that every state wants and needs in order to make sure its citizens are healthy and safe. We take those common needs and centralize them, pooling our resources to make sure everyone can be taken care of. Nationally, we fund research that leads to treatments and cures to diseases that ravaged previous generations. We centralize our surveillance and intelligence, to keep America safe from enemies, both abroad and within. We enjoy a common culture that has been seasoned by the people who have brought to America a piece of their previous homes. We are a great nation, a beautiful nation.
Does the federal government have its flaws? Can it be wasteful, overzealous, inefficient, and cumbersome? Ab-so-lutely. But our form of government also offers us the ability to change these things, which also happens to be one of America’s greatest traits. Unlike countries where your only chance of seeing a change in your government is through the force of violence, bloodshed, terror, and the death of innocents, in America you can work from within the system. Each of you have power at the ballot box, the ability to run for office, and the right to criticize and question your government, all without fear of retribution.
This country is truly a remarkable thing, tragically taken for granted far too often.
To those signers of these petitions, I urge you to think deeply about what you’re promoting. This, “I’m taking my ball and going home” attitude is something you’re supposed to grow out of. It’s time to re-visit the words of a great American that lead our nation through some similarly challenging times. He said,
“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country”.
Secession ain’t the answer, my friends.