Some Americans, especially in the Deep South, still can’t accept that President Barack Obama was re-elected Nov. 6.
So, instead of licking their wounds and moving on, the most discontent of the bunch have filed petitions on the White House website to secede from the Union.
Alabama is among the states represented there, with more than 28,000 signatures.
First, very few people, especially elected officials in Alabama, are taking the petitions seriously. Gov. Robert Bentley described the Alabama petition as “ridiculous.”
Though Bentley, a Republican, and other GOP legislators have been vocal in their criticisms of Obama’s policies — especially the Affordable Health Care Act — they know Alabama is firmly in the Union if for no other reason than money.
“All you have to do to deflate this is talk about all the federal aid we get in Alabama,” said Bill Stewart, a retired University of Alabama political science professor.
“For every dollar in federal taxes we pay, we get $1.66 from the federal government.”
With Alabamians’ hostility toward taxes, Stewart said, an independent Alabama wouldn’t last a month.
“We couldn’t make it without federal assistance. We’re getting a good deal in the relationship right now in the sense that we get back more than we put in,” he said.
In other words, Alabama is a “taker” state that could not operate virtually any of its programs without federal money or substantially higher state taxes, he said.
Jess Brown, professor of history and political science at Athens State University, said the economy binds the states to the federal government.
“The level of economic integration is now much greater that it was in the 1860s,” he said, referring to the secession of the Southern states that led to the Civil War.
“I think those who left the Union would be begging to come back within a couple of weeks,” he said.
For example, if Alabama managed to secede from the Union, all federal facilities and services would cease to operate, such as Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, which employs 25,000 people. Brown said mail service would stop, and all funding for state programs such as Medicaid would be withdrawn.
But many of those signing the secession petitions say they want to send a message to President Obama that they don’t like the way he is leading the country. One of those is Dale Presley, who owns a restaurant in Cherokee.
“I signed the petition, and so did my husband,” she said. “I know the petitions go straight to the White House. Maybe (Obama) will get the message that people are tired of what he’s doing.”
Presley is aligned with the tea party movement, which opposes new taxation and seeks a decidedly conservative style of government.
“I’m sure everyone who signed the petition loves this country just as much as I do,” she said, “but Obama, in his last four years, has trampled our constitution. He is destroying our country.”
Both Brown and Stewart said the secession petitions won’t get any political traction, especially when Deep South governors and elected officials are dismissing them as pointless.
“It’s part of our constitutional rights to petition the government,” Stewart said, “but this has no merit. The affinity for social networking is getting it more attention that it otherwise would get.”
Brown had stronger words for the secession movement.
“It’s constitutional and economic folly,” he said. “There is no language in the Constitution that says the states can or cannot secede. In fact, there was a Supreme Court case from the 1860s, after the Civil War, that said once you are a state, you are in the Union for perpetuity.
“And speaking as a veteran, I want to keep 50 stars in the flag,” Brown said.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.