Can we get rid of the malcontents?

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

The latest lunacy from the far right is a top-of-the-voice demand to be allowed to secede from the good ol’ U.S. of A. or, in the alternative, renounce citizenship. Anyone that wants out that badly not only has my blessing but a foot firmly planted on their ass to get ‘em started.

It’s just a wild guess, but few of them likely have checked laws of the country they want out of to see how it’s done. Or if the rest of the state can go with ‘em. Or if either can be done. Being a helpful soul, I’ve done their research for them. And they ain’t gonna like it.

First, no individual or state can “secede” from this country. They can’t just pick up their marbles – or oil wells – and go anywhere else. We have some loudmouths in our Oregon neighborhood who take to the stump or the bar- or right wing radio – every so often, demanding several Oregon and California counties dump the country and form the Sovereign State of Jefferson. Much as I’d like to see them secede – er – succeed, they won’t. The occasional full-throated exercise is probably more the beer talking than any profound, thoroughly-researched, heartfelt desire to pack up and go.

Once a state joins a Union, it comes under the protection of that Union. If a state wants to secede, that state will be considered a “rebel” of the Union – as in the Civil War – and the federal government must do all in its power to preserve the “embodied collective status.” The Union. Should the rebellious state keep trying, it does so facing “severe economic results and law enforcement issues.” In short, whether we want ‘em or not, we’re stuck with ‘em. And they with us.

Personally, I’d love to see Texas malcontents prevail. Few states get more federal money – military, space, farm subsidies, etc. – as does Texas. If the feds shut the spigot, the state would soon look like an El Paso parking lot. From border to uninhabitable border. Also, Louisiana gets $1.45 for every buck paid in taxes – Alabama $1.71. They’d lose those.

There is an oft-quoted claim Texas is different – that when it joined the Union, there was a special contract clause to let them opt out if ever desired. Not true, McGee. The clause had to do with a possible future decision to re-divide the state. That may be why ol’ Gov. Perry – while throwing around the “secession” B.S. a year or two ago for his own political ends – has now cooled his jets and said it won’t happen.

As for renouncing U.S. citizenship, that’s a bit tricky as well. Also, as I read it, damned final. First, you must appear personally before a government official and sign an oath of renunciation at that time. You can’t just send a note to the ol’ State Department and tell ‘em “I’m quit.”

And you can’t get your Social Security, Medicare or military retirement checks sent elsewhere. Medicaid, either. Nope! Contrary to the nut crowd, renunciation of U.S. citizenship is complete – final – all the way out! There are some interesting cases in which someone petitioned to leave but wanted to take a benefit or two with ‘em. In one case I checked, the Department of State found the individual didn’t fully understand what he wanted to do and wouldn’t approve the application.

Oh, didn’t I tell you? You have to do the stack of official paperwork before you appear in person. And if you haven’t got more justification than being pissed at an election outcome or living under an African-American President, chances are you’re stuck here. Yeah, that’s how it works.

Also, if you quit us, you become “stateless.” That means no protection from ANY government and – without a passport – you can’t go anywhere. So, if you go to a foreign country, you may be deported without the proper documentation – passport or visa – from your “home” country. Which, of course, you wouldn’t have.

Here’s even more bad news. Cutting the tie doesn’t relieve you of U.S. tax obligations or other civil commitments. You can’t avoid prosecution for crimes committed before leaving. Also child support or alimony or other court-approved responsibilities are still in effect – with or without a country.

For those who still want to kiss the rest of us off, here’s a final item to consider. Renunciation is irrevocable except in very rare instances as determined by Immigration and Naturalization. Very rare. And the act can’t be set aside without a successful administrative or judicial appeal. You can’t just get mad, leave, then expect a “welcome home” when you get over your hissy-fit. Or sober up. Whichever comes first.

Following previous national elections, we probably had a couple hundred thousand malcontents. For me, it was Richard Nixon – the second time. Is racism an element? Bet on it. Southern Poverty Law Center says secession talk has attracted the “predictable rogues gallery of racists and neo-Nazis.” Given no similar sizeable effort to secede under Reagan, Clinton or when the Bushes were re-elected, there does seem to be some “white fury” here.

Fear of “creeping socialism” which too many on the far right can’t define – while cashing their Social Security checks? Sure. Just plain malcontents, drunks and phony bitchers? Yep, them, too.

But, now, they’re linked electronically. Passing around fictitious documents some guy in Cleveland devised in his basement. Sending out racist and hate screeds to the like-minded. Where they used to dwell under large rocks or in dark closets alone, they now have a party line of I-Net technology, making them more visible and forcing us to hear their illogical – and sometimes violent – outbursts. They’re fed daily diets of hate on the radio, have their own television network, their own demented publications and can exist in a world separate and apart from fact. And tolerance.

For doubters of all this, I submit exhibit “A” – the 2012 national election. When candidates for president and vice president can’t figure out why all the information they got for months from “their own sources” didn’t square with the reality of what happened, the only answer is they were operating in an insular environment with no checks and balances from other, unbiased input. Insulation in political campaigns – especially in the final days – is common. Which is why a wise campaign will look outside its usual communications links to stay balanced with real world facts. Not a common occurrence on the right.

Well, there you have it. Whatever your petty complaints about this country, most of you are stuck with us. And, unfortunately, we with you. It’s not that a lot of us who see the world with “live-and-let-live” outlooks wouldn’t like to assist you to the nearest port and wave bye-bye. We’re constrained by the laws that were well-designed to keep us together. Laws most of us accept. Laws of a homeland you say you want no more of.

Wish it were different. We’d be better off without you, too.

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