Secessionist talk is unpatriotic

Jonathan Reed

Talking about seceding from the United States from one side of your mouth while touting your patriotism with the other side is like calling for bipartisanship after saying, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

The two concepts are actually quite intertwined.

Texas is, of course, the state most known for talk of secession. It makes sense because Texas is one of two states to have been an independent nation (California was independent for a few weeks in 1846).

Two of the Republican candidates for governor of Texas, Debra Medina and incumbent Rick Perry, have been quoted talking about secession in the past. They can explain it away as much as they want, but it’s a frightening concept for them to have on the mind. Medina even talked about how such a secession would likely cause a war and that “the tree of freedom is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots,” as she said at a rally last summer.

The “tyrants” in that sentence are, of course, Americans. They’re you and me. They’re our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. They’re people who work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., watch college football and go to church.

The “patriots” are people who believe in America until it raises their taxes. They believe in the sanctity of personal freedom, including the right to choose your own health insurance and your own spouse (as long as the spouse is of the opposite sex). They’re true patriots, people who will defend their country until it disagrees with them.

So if two major-party candidates for the highest position in the second largest state are directly or indirectly advocating policies that may cause a violent civil war, I have to question the constituents who make these comments possible.

People who support secession are becoming ever more prevalent, and it’s a trend I find hard to understand. These people tend to be conservative (excepting Vermont residents), because liberals usually just threaten to leave to Canada and not take their states with them. Both the secessionists and the flee-to-Canada crowd have something in common: They usually complain about a lack of bipartisanship.

We hear about bipartisanship all the time. If only we had more of that, our society wouldn’t be so messed up. The problem is that you can’t ask for bipartisanship and threaten to leave the country at the same time. That isn’t collaboration, it isn’t cooperation, and instead it’s giving an ultimatum. It’s “my way or the highway” politics.

When conservatives like Rick Perry and Debra Medina call for bipartisanship from the Democrats in Washington or criticize Democrats for moving too far left, they aren’t helping their cause by talking about secession with their constituents. You can’t shake hands with someone on your left when you’re running to your right. The person you want to shake your hand isn’t going to chase you. Instead, people need to realize that they have to meet them halfway.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, the other Republican candidate for governor, doesn’t too have much of a shot according to polls. That leaves it up to two people who have openly talked about Texas leaving the United States. This is where our national politics is. The extremists are taking over.

There was once a day when patriots fought and died for one America. Not just for the land and the people, but for the idea that democracy, despite its occasional faults, can make the nation as a whole work for everyone. When we think of patriots dying in a bloody war, we don’t think of them as fighting for freedom from a government that was fairly elected by a majority of the people, we think of them as fighting against tyrants who threaten people’s essential life and liberties and who offer the people no other recourse. These tyrants don’t just threaten to provide a government option for health insurance and raise taxes back to where they were a decade ago.

It’s a sad day when people like Rick Perry and Debra Medina have lost so much faith in the American people, its democracy and the entire grand American experiment as to threaten to leave it.

Jonathan Reed is the opinions editor of The Crimson White. His column runs weekly on Friday.