Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

North American Dividers Take the Stage

Happily, the American federation doesn’t need another Abraham Lincoln in the White House right now. Nevertheless, history’s phantom limbs live on. Lincoln’s first election as President in 1860 promptly drove the Southern white plutocracy to leave the Union. Barack Obama’s re-election, as noted in Politico, has generated, in less than a week, fourteen secessionist petitions:

“As of Monday, residents of Kentucky, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Missouri have all expressed interest in dissolving their relationship with the United States.”

By last night, the Texas petition had collected over 100,000 signatures.

Politico didn’t get into specifics. We may never know, for instance, whether the New York petitioners have uniquely Yankee reasons for leaving or, like Texans, simply feel they’d be better off without playing politics with all those swing-state blackmailers.

Whatever. This isn’t too worrying a development.

Grassroots petitions don’t drive radical constitutional change. Dividers don’t get very far until they learn to make friends and, as in Canada, win within the damnable status quo sufficient legitimacy to be able to sell the notion that they could actually leave, without a civil war or, at least, without ruinous economic consequences.

Still, the story is irritating. Dividers are guaranteed serious media attention. They can easily find a respectable number of adults who’d like to make their politics smaller.

Uniters, on the other hand, are often treated as clueless visionaries, without anything exiting to be angry about.

For the record, and with my best wishes, the Canadian option is also now circulating across the US. It declares quietly: “We want to bring our northern brethren into this fine union.”

By this morning, it’s collected thirty signatures.

Soldier on.

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