History shows secession not best idea - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

History shows secession not best idea

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

What began as a protest action is moving toward becoming a nation-wide joke.

More petitions are popping up across the nation calling for individual states to secede from the federal government.

While the likelihood of states going it on their own is remote, history reflects that's probably a good thing.

At a time of war a beleaguered American president drew strength from the words of the Constitution he'd sworn to uphold even as the nation fought as a house divided.

"This nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the Earth," President Abraham Lincoln said in his famous Gettysburg Address.

The long-awaited release of the film "Lincoln", that chronicles former president's personal and political torment during the Civil War, ironically coincides with this week's aberration of people, in currently 39 states, whimsically conducting Internet signature petitions endorsing secession from the federal government.

A knee-jerk reaction most pundits attribute to the results of the November re-election of President Barack Obama. But, as Rhodes College history professor Charles McKinney asserts discontent in America is just as American as apple pie.

"As long as there are people there will be discontent," he said. "As long as there are two or more sides of an argument there will be debates, there will be arguments."

But, since we do it so often, we ask, just for the sake of argument, is secession even a viable course that can produce results? Judging by historical examples, not so much.

You don't have to see the Lincoln movie to understand the complete ruination suffered by those who proudly joined the Confederate States of America in 1861. Invasion, occupation and humiliating defeat led to an economic catastrophe for The South that extended for decades after war's end.

But, if you still want to go there, let's get to some basics about the current secession fervor. Since the Constitution has no clause about "secession," remember with our American forefathers it was all in or nothing at all, we'll use the Confederate model. A majority of people in each state would have to vote for secession, then the president would have to interpret the Constitution in a way to allow the states to go.

However, not without some strings attached. Hit it Mr. Auctioneer!

Are you ready to shoulder the financial debts you've depended on the federal government to take care of? Translation? Many of the current red states are in the "red" already. It's the blue states that are paying the freight.

Southern states, when it comes to tax money, when it comes to expenditures these states spend more federal money than they give to the federal government.

"For every dollar they send to the federal government, they're spending a $1.10, $1.15, $1.60 in some instances," McKinney said.

Among large secession petitioners, only Texans, who've cast more than 100,000 online signatures, could actually afford to secede from Uncle Sam's pocketbook by almost breaking even on the $1. In the case of Mississippi and Louisiana, the millions in federal dollars for disaster relief, Medicaid and welfare would have to come from somewhere else. I hear China is lovely in the spring.

Of course you can simply give the illusion of seceding on some quirky premise like some fine communities such as fist-fighting skullbone. Tennessee did in the 1900s, evolving into the "Kingdom of Skullbone." Or Jones County, Miss., who during the Civil War showed their disdain for both the rebels and the Union under the leadership of Capt. Newton Knight, the Rambo of the renegade South.

Anyway, remember this rhetoric about secession is just that. At least we hope so. For as we've already seen and been hurt by the dreaded alternatives of a house divided.

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