Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I am a huge supporter of labor unions. Most people don’t realize it but the reason that most of us only have to work eight hours a day and get the weekend off is due to the hard work of the American labor movement in the first half of the 20th century. However over the last year the AFL-CIO and other labor organizations have been pushing to implement a process that eliminates the secret ballot in union elections and allows employees to simply sign a card to make their choice known. This strikes me as wrong and horribly misguided. The secret ballot is one of our precious fundamental common law rights that cannot and should not be abandoned in favor of some alleged greater good.

The sad fact is that in their zeal to bring back the good old days when huge portions of the US workforce were union members, the labor movement has gone too far. My larger point is that sometimes in politics, people get so frustrated by the work required to accomplish a difficult goal that they go beyond the pale in an effort to get what they want. One of the great things about democracy is that when people and movements go too far the giant hand of public opinion often times reaches out and swats them down like a bug.

This brings me to the so called Governor of Texas Rick Perry, who last month made the bizarre statement that if the Obama administration did not change its tune, Texas might consider seceding from the United States. Perry may not have realized it at the time, but his threat not only established that there are a great many more stupid people in the Lone Star State than George W. Bush, but, also that he was, a traitor to his country and the Constitution.

Now, I know Governor Perry went to Texas A&M, but the last time I checked the rube history professors at College Station still talked about this little incident that occurred in our nation’s history during the early 1860’s called THE CIVIL WAR! To be fair to the governor, it is true that at one time it was an open question as to whether a “sovereign” state could secede from the union. In 1832, South Carolina tried to leave. President Andrew Jackson promptly told them that they, like Perry, stood on "the brink of insurrection and treason," and he appealed to the people of the state to “reassert their allegiance to that Union for which their ancestors had fought.” Jackson also denied the right of secession: "The Constitution... forms a government not a league... To say that any State may secede from the Union is to say that the United States is not a nation.

Of course it would be decades before the question would finally be settled in a horrible conflict in which over 600,000 would die (these casualties exceeded the nation's loss in all its other wars). After the Civil War, it became clear through a series of important laws passed by Congress that the Union could never be dissolved and that the states, save for some rights expressed in the 10th amendment, were ultimately subservient to federal authority. So today, when you see someone wearing or displaying the Confederate flag, remind them that no matter what they say or think, their beloved banner is, and always will be, a symbol of treason and disloyalty to America.

Some, like Tom Delay, the now disgraced former Republican majority leader, tried to defend Perry by claiming that he was simply expressing his frustration with the current administration. Perry is entitled to be frustrated and angry that those currently in power in DC are not in line with his political beliefs. But the solution is not to threaten to take Texas out of the union, but rather to work to convince his fellow Americans that Obama’s policies are wrong, and that they should VOTE (gee, what a concept) in the next election to put other similar half-wit morons like Perry into office.

A final word on Perry’s rant, those on the right are fond of saying that “Real Americans” think the way they do regarding the issues of day. What bunk!, in the eight years that George W. Bush was in office, he led our nation into a needles war, violated the Geneva Convention, wrecked our economy, and destroyed whatever good will the United States may have worked to achieve overseas. I know that during that time many governors of places like Vermont, Massachusetts and, dare I say it, Maryland, were frustrated by the actions of Midland’s village idiot during his time in the White House.

But it is worth noting, that despite their anger at the policies of the opposition at no time none of the aforementioned gubernatorial leaders ever threatened to take their state out of our noble union. Unlike Perry, they understood that in time the rest of the country would come to understand what they already knew, namely that George Bush was incompetent. In short, they allowed the process to work. This is the magic or our system. When a politician goes too far in one direction, the electorate reins them in and if necessary sends them back to private life. Nixon went too far and resigned. The country turned to Carter. Carter proved on too many occasions to not be equal to the job of President. The country then turned to Reagan, and so it goes.

No my friends, real Americans and governors who are loyal to the United States, do not threaten to take their states and go home when the political winds shift against them. Real Americans work within the system and do not have to resort to secession to achieve their goals. Since 1865, we as a nation have learned that you cannot save the union by destroying it, anyone who believes otherwise is quite simply, a traitor to his country.

1 comment:

Stu Daddy said...

Good column, Pat!

With the one exception being that I think you are mighty hard on our most recent ex-President Bush. He made plenty of mistakes, but just think where we might be today if either Gore or Kerry had held the office instead. Well, come to think of it, our current President Obama would probably still be simply Senator.

And while governors shouldn't demagogue about secession, even in hyperbole, they should gather together and stand up more forcefully to the ever expanding encroachments of the federal government upon territory reserved to the states.

You rightly mention the nature of changing tides of political momentum, constant corrections by new leaders to the harms done before. A proper shift of power back to the states may be more likely to occur given the unchecked advances being promoted by the neophyte administration in Washington, D.C.