By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
On the cusp of the newest film about Abraham Lincoln the issue of secession has again raised its ugly head. Within weeks of Lincoln’s election in 1860, several American states met to review the possibility of first leaving the Union and then to form another, separate country.
According to a recent report on CNN, and through various other media outlets including the Washington Post, many people have once again begun to raise the possibility. Just this past week, it was reported on CNN that petitions are currently circulating in all 50 states to secede from the United States of America. Texas has the strongest base so far with more than 100,000 signatures. As you can imagine, most of the numbers are miniscule and may mean nothing more than a headline.
At least a couple of “southern” governors have dismissed any such movement as insignificant. A few observers have wondered if the possibility still exists that secession is racially motivated and linked to the re-election of Barack Obama, but at least one prominent Texas pro-secession leader points out that the Lone Star state first organized the movement during favorite son George W. Bush’s presidency and that it is simply a push to disown a government which the secessionists feel is failing the citizens.
The furor (if it can be called that) has raised the attention of British journalist Tim Stanley, among others, who feels that secession is impossible. He goes on to point out that in several states where there is a notable number of supporting signatures, it is ironic that the residents receive a huge amount of federal funds and in some cases the return is greater than the amount the citizens pay in annual taxes.
Stanley believes the movement has most of its tie to money, especially social programs which have increasingly divided the political parts. In this time of the “fiscal cliff” and political concerns about the multi-trillion dollar American debt, it is clear that many are disillusioned. Don’t expect secession but hope and pray for discussion and compromise because America may not be actually split but technically it may be already fractured.
Once again, the Virginia budget is under (pun intended) attack from Washington, according to Gov. McDonnell as reported earlier this week. Federal funds flow into Richmond at a hefty rate. In fact, the Old Dominion ledger reveals that defense and non-defense appropriations account for roughly one-third of its gross state product.
If the nation plunges over the “fiscal cliff” on January 1, then the beltway may take Virginia with it.
However, tax collections overall are up by more than 15 percent for the previous month and McDonnell is hoping that funds continue to come through from the Congress. He said he annually asks state agencies for budget cut plans and will sort through the entire package to see which ones will be implemented if the need arises. My own budget has stayed the course for the past five years in succession and if the knife is applied much more severely then I am not at all sure if there if there will be any blood left for this old turnip to give.
In yet another article about the divide in our American system, Newseum Religious Freedom Education Director Charles C. Haynes of Washington, D.C., points out how long-held spiritual landmarks are becoming blurred or invisible altogether. Haynes writes that for the first time in U.S. history, the Protestants are no longer the religious majority in our nation of some 315 million citizens.
He also says that many organizations which formerly were led by Protestants are not any longer and that our religious landscape is more diverse than ever. For example, of the Supreme Court justices, six are Roman Catholic and three are Jewish. In the 2012 presidential election, there was a Protestant solidarity although it came down on the losing side. It was most likely a matter of social as well as political ties which caused the stand including abortion and gay marriage, rather than simply a religious bond.
Some 69 percent of Protestants surveyed voted for Mitt Romney including Billy Graham, whose evangelical association changed its website wording regarding the Mormons, known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Evidently the Mormons had previously been referred to as a “cult” as Mr. Haynes points out.
Haynes concludes that Romney’s bid was made more on his qualifications rather than his religious affiliation. He says this is a good thing and will move the country closer to the First Amendment aim of full religious freedom.
Larry Hypes, a teacher at Tazewell High School, is a Daily Telegraph columnist.