It’s no secret the yahoos who shut down the government for 16 days have a grander goal than merely scuttling Obamacare. They want to achieve something akin to secession, but without the blood and gore that made the Civil War so unpleasant. Most of them don’t run around publicly voicing the s-word because, as Garry Wills noted, they’ve orchestrated a virtual, undeclared secession that seems just as effective as the real thing:
So we have one condition that resembles the pre-Civil War virtual secessionism — the holding of a whole party hostage to its most extreme members. We also have the other antebellum condition — the disproportionate representation of the extreme faction. In state after state in the 2012 election, there was a large vote for President Obama, but a majority of House seats went to Republicans. In Pennsylvania, for instance, Obama won 52 percent of the votes cast, but Republicans got over twice as many seats (13 to 5), thanks to carefully planned gerrymandering of districts by Republican state legislatures. This advantage will be set in stone if all the voter restriction laws now being advanced block voters who might upset the disproportion…
… The Old South went from virtual to actual secession only when the addition of non-slave Western states threatened their disproportionate hold on the Congress and the Court (which had been Southern in makeup when ruling on Dred Scott). It is difficult to conjecture what will happen if the modern virtual seceders do not get their way. Their anti-government rhetoric is reaching new intensity. Some would clearly rather ruin than be ruled by a “foreign-born Muslim.” What will the Republicans who are not fanatics, only cowards, do in that case?
David Sirota thinks the cowards won’t have to do anything but go with the tea party flow. They won’t have to “openly support actual secession” because…
They know that the filibuster and the gerrymander have already let them politically secede and yet still rule this country. They know they are still ruling because they see government shutdowns structured to protect conservative priorities and they see a Democratic president endorsing conservative healthcare, Social Security and national security ideas. And most important, they know their continuing rule doesn’t have to involve any of the downsides of an official secession, even though a secession has already happened.
It’s the South’s dream come true — secession, but without the payback from Grant and Sherman.
Footnote: I bolded some of the quote-out from Sirota’s article to remind readers that the yahoos couldn’t have successfully engineered a virtual secession if Obama hadn’t repeatedly caved to Republican demands over the past couple of years. In fact he often agreed with the yahoos, up to a point. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been a Budget Control Act of 2011 and the sequester that followed.
One more: Neo-secessionism isn’t confined to the South, of course. It’s also strong in parts of the Midwest and in places like rural Pennsylvania. But don’t kid yourselves — in their hearts, these yahoos are all waving the Confederate flag.