POSTED ON NOVEMBER 28, 2012:
From Many a Blunder Free Us
Locals contemplate breaking up with America
Barack Obama has said that Lincoln is his favorite president.
They now have something in common -- President Obama has his very own secession crisis to deal with.
In the wake of Obama's reelection Nov. 6, petitions from all 50 states were posted on petitions.whitehouse.gov, the administration's official petition website, asking for permission to secede from these United States.
"I want to know what it is about presidents from Illinois that causes the nation to want [to] secede," said Scott Schoonover, a Tulsan who is now based in Chicago, in a recent Facebook post. "It's a perfectly lovely place to live."
Oklahoma has two secession petitions circulating at the White House's website right now. One petition -- which had more than 18,000 signatures on Nov. 27 -- quotes the Declaration of Independence: "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it."
Most signers of this petition, created by someone identified as "Matthew M" from Owasso, appear to be Oklahomans. Many, however, are from states as far afield as California and New Jersey -- raising the question of just why some people support our secession.
Some Tulsa liberals, who might remain in a right-wing Oklahoma Republic, had a good laugh when conservatives first started the petitions. Now that they've had some time to think about it, however, some liberals wonder what impact secession would have both on Oklahoma and on what would remain of the United States. Those interviewed for the story uniformly opposed breaking up America, though some expressed their views more sarcastically than others.
"Why wouldn't blue states love to see us secede from one another?" write Tiffany Phillips, a Tulsan and diehard liberal, in a Facebook post. "Red states take in more federal dollars than they pay in. Without those states dragging on the national economy, it would leave funds available for paying down the debt and investing in infrastructure, education, and health of the new nation."
Phillips was speaking tongue-in-cheek -- she also called secession talk the product of "fringe elements" no matter who proposes it. But she painted a picture of a liberal utopia in what would remain of America if Oklahoma and other conservative states left. "Blue states would be able to pass marriage equality across the land. With a much more urban nation, more emphasis would likely be placed on local public transit and Amtrak ... Jim Inhofe would no longer be a member of the U.S. Senate," she said.
David Kucinskas, another Tulsa liberal, recalled secession was discussed back in 2004 -- only in reverse. "I had a relative who ... said that if Dubya was reelected, New England and the West Coast should secede," he posted on Facebook.
Kucinskas noted that sometimes it seems like people in different parts of the country just don't like each other very much. Another of his relatives said she felt more out of place in Dallas than she did in Milan.
That may sound excessive, and Kucinskas largely agreed. "In my opinion, both sides are nuts on the secession talk," he said. "We already tried that in the 1860s, and, yeah, that turned out well."
Some Tulsa liberals noted that if secession became a real possibility, there would be serious logistical problems with breaking up the country. "The infrastructure of this country relies, in part, on the whole geography of the country," said Schoonover, the Tulsan who now lives in Chicago. "Think about Internet hubs, cell phone towers, major centers of commerce and transportation. This region would be done greater harm by the destruction of this infrastructure than changes in laws for civil rights or other policies."
Phillips added that building a military and communications infrastructure from scratch would be difficult. "Strategically, for any of it to work, these states would need to gain control of the military installations within their borders. They would also need to be sure that communications and Internet remain up, if for no other reason than to allow for the high-ups to communicate," she said.
There's also the problem of what to do once a state secedes. There are liberals in red states just as there are conservatives in blue states. It's an open question how the political minorities in each region of the newly divided country would have their rights protected.
In Oklahoma, which has a small but significant liberal population, that question is key. Many liberals in Tulsa live, work, and socialize around each other. "The divide is more urban/rural than anything else," Phillips said.
Another issue that secession advocates appear not to have seriously considered is the state of the Indian tribes. "I'm curious how the tribes would react if Oklahoma were to secede," Phillips said. "Who would they side with? Especially given the question of whether or not the new government would recognize the treaties."
Schoonover -- perhaps the most frustrated of those interviewed -- said he thought "secession is the dumbest idea at this point in history for the U.S.A." He extolled the fact that our republic is able to lumber on no matter which party or political ideology wins an election. If conservatives are frustrated with an election now, liberals were frustrated just a few years ago. Schoonover said one of the good things about America is "the possibility for a peaceful change of the power structure every two and four years."
If conservatives believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, Schoonover advised that they engage more in the political process rather than threaten to leave altogether. "It is easier to change policies on economics, civil rights, health care reform, etc. from within the system than from without," he said.
Overall, Tulsa liberals were skeptical of how serious the secession petitions are. "People would need to be okay with losing their Social Security and Medicare. I can't for the life of me figure out how they could get citizens of a state to be cool with that," Phillips said.
Schoonover was more direct. "All this talk of secession is ridiculous!" he said.
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