COLUMN: Politicians' secession threats are childish

Thursday, April 15, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 9:50 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 12, 2010

If you don’t play by our rules, Missouri will secede from the Union, so help us Jeff Davis, we will.

Sometimes I wonder about our political system. We tend to argue to the extreme over faux control. Just look at the rift between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams concerning federal versus states' rights during the election of 1800. That argument continues today, only it is more public and moving at the speed of the Internet.

I get it. The conservative side of government and those who support it are angry that they lost the 2008 elections and that the liberals are in control, that the power the conservatives had from 2001 until 2009 was ripped away by popular vote.

I get it. The new health care laws, passed by a Democratic Congress, used the same tactics and ideas of the former Republican-led Congress and conservative leadership and is not to their liking, using the rules approved by both sides of the aisle. But please, stop whining like a 5-year-old who just lost control of the ball.

State attorneys general, mostly conservative ones, are lining up to battle these new rules because of a possible constitutional violation. I understand the arguments and believe that the issues of contention must be resolved through the proper means: federal courts.

It is not just the state attorneys general who contend that the new rules are unfair. Our own lieutenant governor, Peter Kinder, has entered the fray along with the Missouri General Assembly. They are crying, “Foul!” because Democrats, who now make the laws, thought the old laws were unfair and changed them — just as the conservatives did when they were in power.

Let us begin with Senate Concurrent Resolution 34, introduced by Sen. Jim Lembke, R-Mehlville. It reaffirms "Missouri's sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment and demands that the federal government stop all activities outside the scope of their constitutionally delegated powers."

Evidently, the language of SCR 34 is not strong enough. Rep. Brian Nieves, R-Washington, introduced House Joint Resolution 88. It reads:

"The state of Missouri hereby enforces its constitutional sovereignty and the sovereignty of its citizens under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America over all powers not enumerated and delegated to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States of America, nor prohibited by it to the states."

Nieves wants to put aside federal laws concerning "federal restrictions on the right of private citizens to bear arms; federal laws legalizing or funding abortions or the destruction of human embryos; certain specified federal actions involving health care including a federal public option; federal actions requiring the sale or trade of carbon credits or the taxing on the release of carbon emissions; federal actions mandating the recognition of same sex marriages; federal actions increasing the penalty for a crime based on a perpetrator’s thoughts or designating hate crimes; federal actions regarding the Establishment Clause based on a “wall of separation” between church and state; and federal actions restricting the right of parents or guardians to home school or enroll their children in a private or parochial school or placing restrictions on the school’s curriculum."

It continues: Federal law is to be interpreted by Missouri for Missouri, and the Constitution is no longer a “living, breathing document” and must be interpreted as originally written.

Unless, of course, it must change to meet the neoconservative agenda.

The right’s attitude has become, and I quote from "Network," the 1976 movie, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" With that, Missouri’s lunatic bunch joins their brethren in Alaska, Texas and Vermont threatening to secede from the Union.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart told me that in order for government to work, opponents must remain civil to each other.

I get it. The new right-wing fringe element is mad. However, they have stopped talking to their counterparts. They are yelling, accusing and threatening. That’s not civil. That’s childish.

Listen to the campaign rhetoric carefully this election cycle. Do you really want 5-year-olds running your state and federal government?

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of his commentaries at and The New York Journal of Books.

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Paul Imhoff April 15, 2010 | 2:03 p.m.

I consider it at least hypocritical to call others names (whining, lunatics, angry, childish, fringe) in your defense of calling them childish.

The point is, how can one choose to be civil when the founding language of our representative republic is being shredded?

I kept reading through your opinion looking for a counter argument to their main points, but never found it. All I saw were ad hominim attacks and name calling. But you don't seem to have an opinion about content of their argument, only that they are choosing to make their argument, and the manner in which they do it. Way to swing and miss on the main point.

Elections are won and lost every two years. The shredding of the Constitution will probably last into your grandchildren's grandchildren's lives. If there was ever a time for civil discourse to be suspended, it is now.

(Report Comment)
William Monroe April 15, 2010 | 2:30 p.m.

"If there was ever a time for civil discourse to be suspended, it is now." Paul...just what the heck does THAT mean? what way has the Constitution been "shredded? Feels very alive to me.
Lets see:
95% of Americans got a tax cut this year...Insurance companies must now insure children with preexisting conditions...Loose Nuclear stockpiles are being secured and a new treaty with Russia will reduce the risk of terrorists getting Nuclear weapons...Oil exploration has been expanded to offshore areas and Nuclear Power plant development has been promoted WHILE calling for an increase in fuel economy standards (Something that just might save us from financing extremist activities in the Middle East)...Wall street Banks are to be reregulated to where they were pre-Bush (pre Bush crash)with additional consumer protections added on....
I could go on.
The Federal Government can and ought to be a force for good in our world..."promote the general happiness" Remember that?
Calls for nullification and succession because your side lost are dangerous and unjustified.
See you at the polls.
William Monroe

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 15, 2010 | 2:57 p.m.

("The Federal Government can and ought to be a force for good in our world..."promote the general happiness")

Here's one train of thought on that happiness thingy....
("If my own happiness lies elsewhere, why may I not prefer that?")

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler April 15, 2010 | 5:32 p.m.

I think some may be missing the point. Many status quo Repubs are just as sold out as stus quo Dems. While certain partisans are attempting to take advantage of the mood of the people, the real deeper discontent seems to BE the mood of the people.

Many feel the Constitution IS being shredded and has been for a long long time. Some of the concerns (take your pick) that I see people are feeling are: Attacks on the 1st amend.-- free speech *zones* (you can only speak outa site of the news cameras?), beating up protesters and instigating violence (to try and link legitimate protest), targeting and killing of war journalists, making certain theories illegal??? (Cass Sunstein idiocy and some Repubs), attacks on the Fourth--- Warrantless stops and checkpoints, checking through peoples mail, email,warrantless phone snooping, bank records etc., Patriot (BADLY misnamed) Act, Military Commisons Act, attacks on the 2nd, attempted N.O. gun confiscation (under Bush no less), Massive theft of peoples money given away to Billionaires and Trillionaires, FORCED? healthcare extortion money, ILLEGAL wars based on LIES, *attempted* Forced vaccination (need any more mercury, aluminum, squalene, etc, in your body?) with untested vaccines, having to 'get naked' at airports in order to fly, etc. etc. I'm sure I've missed alot.

Where does all of this end. With a Verichip in everyone's wrist so they can buy or sell? What's next in the bogus "war on terror" and how much more Liberty and $$$ are Americans going to have stolen from them to keep this charade going. I tend to think the commie/fascists of BOTH mainstream parties are just getting warmed up. Another bigger 'terror' attack whether just allowed to happen or synthetic might just be the weapon the commie/fascists will use to try and finish off the Bill of Rights. Most all of the legislation appears to be in place just waiting for a (synthetic) spark.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 15, 2010 | 8:21 p.m.

William, the Constitution does not call up the federal government to provide for the general happiness, although many politicians seem to think it does. General welfare is what you are thinking of, and it has nothing to do with welfare programs as we currently know them..

Also, don't forget that Clinton is the President who signed the repeal of Glass-Steagal, so don't lay all the blame on Bush the Younger. You've also forgotten Obama's promise to post the text on all bills for at least five days before signing them, his flip flop on FISA (supported reforms as a Senator, then changed his mind), his continued expansion of the war in Afghanistan, and an unelected and unaccountable pay czar. His call for exempting corporations from First Amendment rights during his first State of the Union speech was startling, especially for a Constitutional professor. Sounds much like a third Bush term rather than this progressive messiah some were promising us.

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler April 15, 2010 | 8:44 p.m.

I met a soldier the other night, serving on his 4th tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was downtown, at one of the local clubs unwinding a bit and watching some live music. Some of us got to talking during a break, and he told us a bit about his feelings being there.

He was absolutely committed to his job, but upon questioning admitted that he (and many he served with) knew the mission in Iraq, and what was used as a pretext, was not 'exactly'what many Americans assumed. I won't go into full details but having camps nicknamed camp Exxon and Camp Mobile stood out in my mind as just one of the examples of some other reasons.

We talked about how some of the troops were disrespected in returning home from Vietnam, and everyone agreed that was pretty poor at times.Everyone seemed to agree too, that the troops are much more supported at least vocally now, vs then, even though many doubt the stated intentions of 'the mission' (or can even really define it adequately.)

Still he was ready to go back to Afghanistan which he seemed to think might be a more noble endeavor, though in the end he simply said he was just doing his job, of which everyone agreed. Right before he left he was asked, out of curiosity if he would ever fire or try and disarm the American people. Though he replied he had to follow *legal* orders, his first oath he said was to the Constitution and to defend it from all enemies. He also said he and his lady friend had discussed that before,but out of courtesy I won't relay what he said about that, but again everyone agreed.

Conversations like that give me hope that American can and will stand United even in any rougher waters that may come along. We all shook hands and wished him the best.

(Report Comment)
Paul Imhoff April 16, 2010 | 4:25 p.m.

William seems to be angling for next spokesman of the DNC. The shredding of the Constitution lies in the argument made in the article (if you read it). You can't get around the 10th Amendment by passing a law. I would contend that Obamacare also violated the free expression clause of the 1st Amendment, as it forces those of various faiths opposed to abortion to fund abortions. In the case of Catholics, that means that by simply paying taxes, they have participated in the killing of an unborn child. A sin. Which means they can't participate in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Thus, their free expression of their religion is violated. Abortion is legal in the U.S. Forcing anyone of a certain religion to violate their religion in not legal.

(Report Comment)
phillipp young April 18, 2010 | 11:18 p.m.

william, what do you think would have happened if Washington, Jefferson, Adams, ec. wouldnt have suceeded from britain?we would be under british rule and would not be the United States.we would not have the freedoms we have now. we have the obligation to do away with the government if the goverment isnt doing its job.
one way to do that is to suceed.each state has the ability to be its own country or join others to form a new government."The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people" Any body with any sense can see that the feds have been abusing this for years.people are fed up and are finding ways to stop it.To suceed is a very possible option and maybe the only way to get out of the mess the feds are and have been building for us, both democruds and is not "childish" as you say, it is doing what we have a right to do when the government no longer works for us.

(Report Comment)

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