In a democracy, it was once said, oftentimes other people win.
That is a huge failure of the system.
But, hey, this is America, right? Other people have been winning for centuries; we go along with it and stick together.
Except, of course, for that one time when some of us opted out.
Outrage about a second term for Barack Obama intersected with the White House’s new petition initiative just at a time when the political media found itself entering a post-election news vacuum.
Voila! We’re hit with dozens of stories about tens of thousands of Americans using the president’s petition website to ask the feds to allow their state to secede. Because that worked out so well the last time it was tried.
To date, there are petitions asking for at least 48 states to slip the surly bonds of federalism and go it alone, like a gang of shiftless, angry teenagers taking a gap year to find themselves.
Of course, this reaction to losing an election is petulant and absurd, and even though several of the secession petitions have met the 25,000-signature threshold required to merit a White House response, none will be forthcoming.
Not shockingly, Tennessee is among the states with a petition. There’s no good way of checking the veracity of the signatories, but even at a glance, many of them are not from Tennessee, which means Joe C. of Billings, Mont., is either standing in solidarity with us or has just grown tired of having us around.
Either way, the points-and-clicks of thousands of people mean very little, and we won’t be seceding.
As Gov. Haslam put it, “I don’t think that’s a valid option for Tennessee.”
You don’t think it is, Governor? Incredibly, he didn’t name a task force to explore its validity before making such a squishy statement.
There are plenty of reasons why Tennessee wouldn’t make it on its own. For one thing, the last time it was tried, the state hung on for nine months before being occupied by the Yankees and having a military governor named to quash the rebellion.
In a practical sense, we’d have a hard time paying our bills. That oppressive yoke of the federal government sends back $1.27 for every $1 Tennesseans send to Washington.
That little funding gap would quickly turn into a chasm, because the feds would probably send a go-it-alone Tennessee an invoice for its portion of the national debt, like a fastidious roommate asking for all the outstanding rent, because it’s not his problem you want to move out six months early.
Then there’s the pesky problem of raising an army. Georgia’s been eyeing the Tennessee River for years, their waterlust enjoined by the power of the federal courts. Without that judicial protection, Chattanooga and its precious fluids would be overrun by manic, thirsty Peach Staters.
And what of the federal land here? You think Washington is going to be cool with just deeding over Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a quitclaim and a smile? The Department of Defense is coming in posthaste to repossess that nifty wind tunnel in Tullahoma, too.
And how will we occupy our weekends? The Titans play American football in the American Football Conference. The Volunteers aren’t close to competing for a national championship, but they are a lot closer than they would be if they weren’t located in the nation at all (although, presumably, they could declare themselves National Champions of the Republic of Tennessee, but they’ll have to beat Vandy first).
Seceding ain’t easy, friends.
All of these hypotheticals are absurd, because the idea itself is absurd. A collection of uber-patriots so patriotic they want to leave the country they love so much? That kind of logic would startle William of Ockham so dramatically, he’d cut himself shaving.
Rather than harkening back to the days of Isham Harris, Tennesseans would be better off — as always — listening to Andrew Jackson: “Our federal Union, it must be preserved.”