News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Sour grapes and secession
Nov 18, 2012 - By Randy Tucker
Much of the current grumbling stems from inherent prejudice against anyone but a white man serving as the nation's commander in chief, but other factors are claimed to be involved as well.
As of Wednesday, 81,000 Texans had signed a petition to secede from the United States of America.
Of all the states, only Texas and California once were sovereign nations. The Lone Star Republic lasted nearly a decade from 1836 to 1846. The Bear Flag Republic had a much briefer existence, lasting just 26 days in June and July of 1846.
The story of Texas is a familiar one, albeit marred by Hollywood's portrayal of the Battle of the Alamo and the surrounding events of the war for Texican independence in 1836. Suffice it to say that the real Davy Crockett, at 5-6 and bald on the top of his head with shoulder-length hair falling on his collar looked and acted nothing like John Wayne did in portraying him.
California's story is intertwined with our own county's namesake, John C. Fremont. The "Pathfinder," as the explorer and U.S. Army officer was nicknamed, crossed the American West four times, seeking routes to California initially and looking for passable paths for the future transcontinental railroad in his final ventures.
Upon arrival in 1846, Fremont realized the wealth of California and the weak hold that Mexico held on the Golden State.
Not known for always making the wisest decisions, Fremont aligned himself with the Bear Flag movement and by default became the fledgling republics first leader. When Commodore John Sloat arrived in San Francisco harbor with three American warships and instructions to hold the region for the US in its war with Mexico Fremont quickly relinquished control and fell back in line.
When California joined the union in 1850, Fremont was one of the first two U.S. Senators appointed by the state legislature.
Jump forward more than 150 years and you see the secession movements slowly rising to the forefront again.
Texas is now dealing with a serious attempt at secession by a group of its citizens. Secession movements are claimed to be in place in 30 states now. There have always been splinter groups and lunatics calling for their individual states to withdraw from the union, but they've never been serious. This time the process is trying to appear more mainstream. Thankfully, it is not quite to the levels of 1860 that led to the cataclysmic events of the American Civil War, but those immersed in it say it serious none the less.
The Civil War began over states; rights, specifically with the perserveation of slavery in South Carolina in the late 1850s and culminated with the Palmetto State declaring independence from the U.S in December of 1860, after Abraham Lincoln's presidential victory was verified. The devastation that followed in the Carolinas four years later is the worst ever experienced in the United States.
The present-day secession talk ignited just last week after Barack Obama was elected for a second term as president. Similarities and paradoxes abound when viewing this modern campaign.
Much of it stems from inherent prejudice against anyone but a white man serving as the nation's commander in chief. But other factors are claimed to be involved this time, the major one being a balanced budget.
The Texas secession platform reads as follows: "Given that the state of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect its citizens' standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government."
There it is fiscal responsibility in the guise of secession from the greatest nation on Earth.
(By the way, it was a Texan, George W. Bush, who as president erased the huge budget surpluses accumulated by his predecessor and left the beginnings of our huge budget deficits by the time he left office with a national approval rating of 22 percent.)
A look at economics reveals that as an independent nation Texas would rank between Spain and Australia in gross domestic product. California has an even stronger economy sitting between Italy and India in the same category.
Because Wyoming now has 5,000 signatures on its own secession petition, a look at our standing places us firmly between Uzbekistan and Serbia. Not quite what the proponents have told you, is it?
Uzbekistan's major export is natural gas (sound familiar?), its citizens have electric power several hours a day, practice child labor as early as age 7, drive on a few paved roads and earn an average income of $500 a year. Similar to the statistics Wyoming residents can expect if we were to actually secede from the union.
Texas and California have the largest ice free coastlines of all U.S. states and abound with ports, natural resources, industry, agriculture and university systems that are the envy of the world. We in Wyoming have abundant natural resources but little else. Our industrial base is almost entirely in extracting minerals sent to other places.
Our state is among the most picturesque in the entire union, but our climate severely limits our agricultural output.
We receive the highest percentage of federal aid per capita of all 50 states taking in nearly twice as much as we pay, but our budget is balanced and we have a "rainy day" account held in what would become foreign banks if we were to secede.
Roads, bridges and dams would decay. Electric power, telephones, television and the Internet would require international contracts at exponentially higher prices if we were to become truly independent.
Laughable actions in our last legislative session called for our own aircraft carrier, a Wyoming Marine Corps and even a suggestion for a squadron of fighter jets (made by a legislator who didn't realize it was all tongue-in-cheek) This was a smirk toward the secession movement in its early days but, sadly, was taken as legitimate by some of our elected officials.
The last time secession was serious 650,000 American men died and another half-million were maimed. Is this the course we really want to follow just because a few extremists didn't get the outcome they wanted in the last election?