Batty Secession Schemes Gain a Foothold Among Rural Conservatives

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Tea Party member Greg Hernandez, of Quicksburg, Va., wearing a tri-corner hat and tea bag. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Tea Party member Greg Hernandez, of Quicksburg, Va., wearing a tri-corner hat replete with tea bag. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Editor’s note: We first ran this piece back in September. On Tuesday, six of the 11 Northern Colorado counties with the ’51st state’ initiative on their ballots voted to start the process of seceding from the Centennial State.

Conservative activists in five rural Maryland counties are fed up with what they see as the tyranny of a democratically elected state government they don’t control. They’re so frustrated that they want to secede and form their own deep red state.

Bizarre as it seems, the effort is part of a trend. In Colorado, up to 10 rural counties want to break off and form a new state called Northern Colorado. A handful of counties in Kansas and Nebraska are reportedly thinking about joining them. Several counties in Northern California are hoping to combine with a chunk of Southern Oregon to form the state of Jefferson – an old idea that apparently hasn’t gone out of fashion. And folks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula fed up with Lansing have also been kicking around the idea of cutting loose.

The media have framed these stories as a symptom of a growing rural-urban divide, and that’s true. Gun safety laws enacted after the Sandy Hook shootings sparked the move in both Colorado and Maryland. Marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and differences over energy policy, immigration (over which state governments have little control) and taxes are often cited as “irreconcilable differences” by these secession advocates.

But it’s also another sign of the difficulty that a group which dominated American politics just a generation ago – a group political scientist Alan Abramowitz narrowed down to married white people who identify as Christians – are having adapting to a country that’s becoming more diverse and embracing a different, more liberal set of cultural values. As Michael Rosenwald noted in The Washington Post, “with secessionists, the term ‘final straw’ comes up a lot.”

An analysis of Census data by Moyers & Company found that non-Hispanic whites make up 93.5 percent of the rebellious Colorado counties, a higher share than the 87.7 percent of the rest of the state’s population. Unsurprisingly, there’s also a significant partisan gap — only around 39 percent of those living in the break-away North voted for Obama in 2012, while the rest of the state supported him by a 52-46 margin, according to an analysis of election returns.

Those divides are even more dramatic in Maryland, where a 26-point gap in presidential preferences separates the five counties considering secession from the rest of the state. Breakaway Maryland is 85 percent white, while whites make up just 51 percent of the population in the rest of the counties, according to a Washington Post analysis.

It’s certainly true that with less than 20 percent of the population now living in rural America, the policy preferences of conservatives living in the countryside or in small towns are often overshadowed by large majorities who live in cities and their suburbs. But that’s true of a lot of Americans – liberal hipsters in Austin, Texas, don’t have much say in their state’s governance either, to cite just one example among many. But as Jason Bane of the blog ColoradoPols told a local Fox affiliate in Colorado, “in a democracy, there are lots of other people who have viewpoints, and they don’t all throw a tantrum just because a vote doesn’t go their way.”

But this contempt for democracy makes sense when one considers some of the messaging conservatives in rural America are exposed to on a regular basis – messages they get from right-leaning politicians, Fox News and talk-radio. At a 2008 rally in rural North Carolina, Sarah Palin famously coined the term “real America” to describe “these small towns that we get to visit.” From the same stage, Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC), said, “Liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish, and achieve, and believe in God.” Soon after, conservative talk-radio host Chris Plant asked, “Can you still be a real American if you believe that the regimes that govern in Western Europe are a better way forward than the system that we have here?” His callers were emphatic that you cannot.

It wasn’t a new narrative – it’s been a central part of conservative rhetoric at least since Richard Nixon came on the scene railing against “East Coast elites.” It’s one thing to hold a minority viewpoint among your fellow citizens, but something else entirely – something intolerable — if they’re not really Americans in the first place.

Or consider the belief, widespread on the right, that the nation’s founders would be modern conservatives were they alive today, and that the Constitution codified “small government principles.” It’s a myth – the founders agreed on very little, and during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, it was the Federalists, who favored a strong central government, that prevailed over the anti-Federalists who championed states’ rights and wanted to give only limited power to the central government.

But it’s a powerful myth, and if one believes that one’s political opponents are violating the nation’s founding principles, it’s easy to dismiss the legitimacy of their positions. Scott Strzelczyk, the Maryland activist organizing that state’s secession campaign, lamented in February that “the rules that govern government – the Constitution – are ignored and government does whatever it desires.”

Finally, there’s a narrative that has been pushed relentlessly for over a generation that these “real” Americans are competing on a sharply uneven playing field – that the game of democracy is hopelessly rigged against them by a biased media, academia and other institutions at the center of our political lives. If you believe that this is a “center-right nation,” your policy preferences are the default and you’re only losing because the deck is stacked against you, then breaking away from the majority with a small population of like-minded people seems like a perfectly rational recourse.

Unfortunately, these activists are in for a rude awakening. The movement has been roundly mocked. And it faces almost insurmountable obstacles – in order to secede, they’d need not only the approval of their state legislatures, but that of the United States Congress as well.

But as Jamie Raskin, a Democratic Maryland state senator and constitutional law expert put it, “the rhetoric of secession today is the language of a protest movement, not a serious campaign to change political geography.”

Joshua Holland is a senior digital producer for He’s the author of The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy (and Everything Else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America) (Wiley: 2010), and host of Politics and Reality Radio. Follow him on Twitter or drop him an email at hollandj [at] moyersmedia [dot] com.
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  • Anonymous

    It’s worth noting, Joshua, that these “nullification” schemes originated with the 1990s Patriot/militia movement. See more here:

  • pragmatism

    It’s a tacit admission of the realities of electoral politics. The future is bleak for them and this is all they can think of to do.

  • Anonymous

    Let ’em.

    Combine them all together. In today’s world you don’t need a single contiguous state. They’re all real Americans right? So unite all these guys under one state and call it Redwhinerstan or something.

  • Anonymous

    Something that I have been thinking about lately is what form of government do we have in the US? Is it a Democracy or do we have a Capitalist government? It seems to me that capitalism and democracy are the opposite of each other. In capitalism, the one who gains the most wealth wins and can then buy the government (Koch bros, anyone) and everyone works for a wealthy person once all the monopolies are created. Isn’t that just like the Aristocracy from Europe which the founding fathers rebelled?
    Or we could have a democracy, where everyone gets a vote, regardless of wealth. But wait, that isn’t fair. Those slackers who don’t work have the same say in government as I do and I work my butt off and make a lot of money.
    So, how about Democratic Socialism? It seems to me to be the logical progression of the US based on the founding fathers intentions. We don’t have a wide open frontier like we did in the 1700’s and 1800’s where you can just move west if you don’t like how things are in your current local.
    Just some thoughts. I’m not a professional writer so I don’t have a book ready to go…

  • JonThomas

    You don’t need a book, it looks like you are headed in a direction of awareness that many of have also tread.

    I try not to assume, so this may sound stupid…As you seem to already know, government and economics are two distinct aspects of life. They are both expressions of power and influence. They often intersect (indeed they attract,) but when one takes more control than absolutely necessary of the other, problems usually arise.

    About 25 years ago, when I came to the awareness of which you wrote…”We don’t have a wide open frontier like we did in the 1700’s and 1800’s where you can just move west if you don’t like how things are in your current local…” I began to understand feudalism, and as many of it’s potential expressions as possible.

    Oligarchies, Plutocracies, Corporatism, Monarchies, Dictatorships, etc…all forms of power over others humans for the purpose of gaining, maintaining, and disseminating control.

    Capitalism is a favorite economic articulation of such power. It allows energy to be converted, collected, and exercised.

    It became apparent to me that although there was a renaissance, unchecked power always tends to compel towards control. As long as humans have control over other humans, there will continue to be those who will exploit that resource. Power (as a form of energy accomplishing work,) in motion, gains momentum. Momentum gains inertia. Inertia feeds itself.

    However, here’s the thing, and I’ll leave it somewhat purposefully obfuscated…1+1=1.

    It is an illusion, and a vast misunderstanding that energy, in any form it takes, is something different from itself.

    Ice, water, steam…

    I’ll stop there for now…and I won’t push my beliefs, but if you do not already know, check out what in the Bible is called… the ‘Jubilee Year.’ Look up how often it occurred, and what was to be done with the land. It is an interesting, practical balance for your thought I quoted above.

    I hope not too many people read this because I know that my elucidations are often no more than ramblings. I thought thrice about posting, but I do indeed revel in such discussions. Just go down the rabbit hole slowly. Oh, and ask…always ask. 😉

  • Rogelio Martinez

    This is a great idea. Let the “real americans” have their states. Break up California, Texas, Florida, New York and any other state with red rural areas. Then their will be a solid blue majority in federal government. They can destroy their states while the grown ups push civilization forward. Gerrymandering solved.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, David. I hear you’re firing up the old blog. So happy to hear it. Let me know when you’re in NY — we should grab a drink.

  • R RS

    Fine – let them secede. But only AFTER they have paid their share of the Federal deficit and paid back all the welfare and subsidies they have gotten. This will significantly reduce the Nation’s debt and will put them in the hell hole they are seeking. Soon enough they will come crawling back like the Prodigal Son and begging to be living off the welfare they have been given all these years.

  • JonThomas

    There’s also the issue of Senators they would garner. It would be a dangerous over-representation.

    The states, as they are now, are based pretty much on geography. If this was allowed to happen, each new state would have 2 (more) senators. These would be states based solely on ideology. It would definitely not be a good precedent.
    Good-bye to pluralism.

    I can even imagine armed ideological wars flaring up between states.

    It’s good that they have an up-hill, if not impossible battle.

  • Anonymous

    A voice from one of your northern colonies with governments that are destroying our democracy even faster than yours are doing to yours – to the level it ever existed in either country. I suggest the analysts that called the movements triggered by the likes of von Hayek, Rand, the Friedmans and others “neo-liberal”, “neo-conservative” or “free enterprise” really got it wrong. And of course, the Friedman’s with their well financed “free to choose” propaganda were really bringing back a form of mercantilism … which is the big government/big business collaboration which Adam Smith criticized back in 1776. In Canada, under our so-called “free enterprise” Harper administration we are subsidizing big (foreign) corporations at an unprecedented level while cutting their taxes. Also, anything resembling evidence based policy making in any department is actively being suppressed or inhibited by our governments – particularly our federal. So it seems, we, and I suggest you as well … are moving incrementally towards 21st century forms of neo-fascism and neo-mercantilism.

    As for big spaces in the west that were open for folks to move into … a few aboriginal nations may dispute that … which was a fairly major contributor to your American Revolution … because of an Act of the British that tried to stop the American Land Company (major shareholder … George Washington) from moving into “Indian Territory”.

    Frankly – I am all for democratic socialism … however for that we need true “freedom of speech”, an accountable media, and people willing to own their power to co-create worlds that truly work in an authentically sustainable manner. We know how to do all of this … which is basically the opposite of what we are doing in both our countries and forcing on the rest of the world.

    However, together…

  • Anonymous

    Joshua, would you drop me a line?

  • Anonymous

    I think most of us are fine with the idea of having these people have their own country, sans ANY aid from the US. To use their own traditional expression: “America. Love it or leave it.” So, where are they going to start their own country?

  • Anonymous

    Well, yes, fascism has been in the process of incremental implementation, from the bottom up, with the support of middle class Americans (who weirdly imagine they won’t be next).

  • Anonymous

    You do now that welfare fr the poor was ended in 1996, right? Southern states are mainly poor.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, but the old myths about rural areas being all right-wingers is WAY outdated (at least, in the north). It’s not just that family farms have been taken over en masse by corporate agribusiness, but that jobs were shut down and shipped out, basic services have been disappearing, and life has been growing much harder precisely because of policies supported by the right wing. As the old timers can tell you, today’s GOP honestly has embraced something dangerously close to Mussolini-style fascism.

  • Anonymous

    The US is purely a capitalist entity today. Our only values are those attributed to monetary units. As our policies so clearly show, we determine human worth solely on the basis of assets, in come and employability. Even our good liberal Americans now regard the poor as something along the lines of pigeons or ducks, undeserving of fundamental human rights.

  • Anonymous

    That makes it sound pretty pathetic.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, it is another rerun, but this strategy can work. They come up with an idea that Americans think is crazy, and keep repeating it, sometimes taking a break , then returning to it. Propaganda 101: If a message is repeated frequently over an e period of time, the public will ultimately regard it as fact, no matter how crazy it is. We saw proof of this with the welfare “debate.”

  • Anonymous

    I saw a map of the US circulating after the 2012 election. it marked all the counties won by Romney in red and those won by Obama in blue. Pretty normal, except the map labelled the red counties as “Free America” Apparently the rest of us are not free.

  • Anonymous

    “Either I get to be captain of the team, or I take my ball and go home.”

  • Anonymous

    They can be the 51 state, it already is the fastest growing state in the US it is called the state of Denial, of reality that is

  • Andrew C Livingston

    It’s not dangerously close, it is. It has been for quite a while now and the GOP makes no real attempt to hide the fact.

    Fascism is at odds with everything the US is founded on. Fascists should not be breathing the air we all breathe. They shouldn’t be breathing at all.

  • Ron Plummer

    I would urge letting them secede with the US Congress giving them the total boot. Considering the counties and states in question with their irrational fear of a black president narratives, consistently show up at the top of the poverty, welfare, least taxes raised, least educated, rabid second amendment lists, I suspect these newly formed entities would have quite a interesting time creating and maintaining their own stable economies, let alone manage all the old and failing infrastructure.

    I wager within five years post secession, their property will be owned lock stock and barrel by China.

  • Anonymous

    I believe the United States will survive this period of secessionist movements. For one thing, those who want to secede are part of a dying generation. Old white people like myself are dying off, and we are being replaced by an ethnically diverse nation. What I fear, however, is that the growing gap between rich and poor will escape our ability to control. I heard a show about the meritocracy this week on NPR. We’re going to see much more of that in the future. A limited number of people will grow fabulously wealthy. The rest of our population will become a permanent underclass, and we’ll have to adjust our expectations from a middle class existence to something well below what we have today. The person interviewed said yelp ratings will become far more significant in your job prospects in the future.

    I’m probably in the last major part of my career; therefore, I’m not as worried about my future as those of my children and the young people I know. We have to do something to reverse this tide. We cannot let a privileged portion of our population continue to control the vast majority of our wealth. Oh, and I’m not talking about adopting Communism or Socialism. I’m jut talking about returning to a better economic model that rewarded hard work and let people build long-term careers.

  • Robert Andrew Walker

    It’s outdated everywhere: North and South. And if you talk to the people that actually live in these areas, you’ll find most are not with these wingnuts. Having grown up rural and Southern, and still managing to get a Ph.D. and having lived in most parts of the U.S. I get tired of the stereotyping that abounds in this country. Pick a few lunatics and then paint everyone with the same brush.

  • Anonymous

    We shouldn’t underestimate the role of economics in all this. The rural counties have been starved of economic opportunity for 3 decades now. People out there borrow money for houses and car loans and end up paying principal and interest to banks in big cities. Their money goes to inflate house prices in cities and pay a lot of waiters and waitresses in fancy restaurants. We need to critique the economics of the rural urban divide as much as the psychology. The bad economics are what drives all this, yet it gets not one line of ink in this “analysis”. The narrative promoted by media and politicians focuses on cultural or social differences without addressing the underlying economics which are the irritant. That narrative is a cover story.

  • Will Stark

    You want to secede ? Great !! Um, what do you plan to live on ? All of the examples I looked at were low population, low income communities. No longer will you be bailed out by those “liberal elites” with their radical ideas about “equality” and “keeping government out of the bedroom and religion out of politics.”

    Take Jefferson for example, You see “northern California” and think San Francisco, San Jose or Silicon Valley. Nope. Only two of the seven counties have a population density over 25 people per square mile. Most have a literal handful of incorporated cities and NONE have twelve or more. Only two counties have more than one city with a pop. over 5,000. The industry, such as it is, is farming, lumber, possibly some mining and tourism to places like Crater Lake. (Although, if you do secede, you can count on losing a lot of sightseers from the states you just removed yourselves from.)

    Even if you DID manage to hang in there financially, what would you do when, a few years from now, liberal hipsters start moving into your cheap ranches and cabins and you’re no longer the solid majority ? Gonna secede from your seceded state ?
    You might as well find yourself a deserted island and start your own country. I even have a name for it. Since you claim to be Christians, you could call it “Easter Island” since it’ll be a rebirth of your Christian “ideals.”

  • Will Stark

    You’re absolutely right. Although I understand the frustrations of the folks above, the answer is not to run away or stick your head in the sand.

    Instead, we all have to set aside some of our “me time” and get the government to represent all of us and not just corporate interests.

  • JonThomas

    Well, that all sounds good for a blurb, but it’s not entirely true.

    I’m not going to nit-pick, so I’ll just leave it there.

    If your point is that a small wealthy group have a lot of control over this nations policies, then ok…I can pretty much agree.

  • Anonymous

    Let ’em go. No upkeep of highways, no help with water and electricity from the state or the county or nationally; no military, no police, fire or EMTs. No disaster relief, no internet. No social security, Medicare, vets’ benefits, etc. No regional or national banks, retail stores, gasoline deliveries from regional or national oil companies, etc. etc. etc. Let ’em see how well they can live without modern conveniences.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like the Republicans in Congress and state offices.

  • Anonymous

    We have a plutocracy. We are owned and mostly run by The Koch Brothers, people like Sheldon Adelson, the oil companies and Wall Street.

  • Lisa Kazmier

    Their ignorance is hurting us all. Things where there is government or corporate overreach (e.g., GMOs, spying, corporate welfare squeezing out actually promoting the general welfare of the population as a whole) don’t bother them at all. This is all ginned up and code for crap that really doesn’t matter so more of us are trapped into being a manageable herd held down by this narrow understanding of things.

  • Anonymous

    If you want to find the cause of the starvation of economic starvation, Planck, look no further then the last four decades being the rich getting further and further ahead and everyone else just trying to tread water.
    This isn’t rural versus urban…this is class vs class.
    And the teabaggers are being played for suckers by their own leaders

  • Larry Beaird

    Democracy doesn’t work if there isn’t compromise by all parties.

  • Larry Beaird

    Your right on!

  • Alan Conley

    I live in Texas and here they blather about it all the time. I am serious they should have secession insurance. If this state ever leaves the union I am out. I will leave everything I ‘ve worked for. The Civil war was too brutal, People like Rick Perry who lightly throw that around Not only disrespect the Civil war dead but spit on their graves both north and south. I wish the dead could talk louder. Shame on these people.

  • Anonymous

    Josh Marshall suggested “Whinyassistan,” and Daily Kos went with “Wingtopia.”

  • Chris Brimmer

    Why not bring up the Second Republic of Vermont? Because its 800 or so hardcore members are at the extreme margins of state politics in the Green Mountain State. None of the three major parties in this state (yes we have 3 count ’em 3 major parties and 4 minor ones) feels the need to pander to it and in my memory no governor has ever publicly discussed it. And it is not a liberal movement, it is linked in its leadership to southern independence movements and organizations that have a heavy racist streak and avowedly against the welfare state and having “our” tax money “given” to those people. If the Progs, Dems and Reps of VT don’t take these people seriously neither should you.

  • Anonymous

    “Democracy doesn’t work.” There, I fixed it for you.

  • Kenny Jaeger

    This is a good debate and should be talked about constantly along with The Norquist Pledge and the hatred for taxes and the President of the USA which is expressed so much on the social media. The idea of this new right wing seeing it patriotic to hate the president and liberal ideas is insane and needs to be exposed as such. It is not helping anyone to demand separation and to resist unity.

  • MD

    Should they be awarded land like the native americans received? Let them “build it” all on their own without any government oversight, infrastructure or funds. They can have their shoot outs in the streets. I cannot understand why they align themselves with the party funded by the 1%. They must not see their true selves. It is actually very sad.

  • Anonymous

    You want conservative public policies but you live in a blue state. That’s not being “oppressed and abused.” As I said in the piece, your situation is no different than that of liberals in Austin, Texas — they don’t get their way in state government either.

    And the sovereign citizens movement is dangerous and based on ill-informed legal analysis. We have a representative government.

  • Diane

    Let them have “right wing reservations”. They are on their own, may shoot whoever they like but will not be welcome in the United States proper. It would be a sink or swim proposition for these people, there would be no assistance of any kind from the state or federal governments. If they starve or their lands fall into disrepair, it is up to them to provide for themselves.

  • Diane

    No way Anna. They are seceding from the USA. They will have no representation in the federal US government. No senators, no congressmen and if they want a governor, he/she will not be part of the other governors in the US. Remember, THEY WANT TO SECEDE. That means they have no part in the US.

  • King

    Is it just me, but didn’t this type of secession talk eventually start a civil war. What are they objectives if they were able to successfully break away for the US?

  • Anonymous

    May they all find themselves isolated in the Land of Ignorance!!!

  • Anonymous

    The media is to blame for the most part. They have failed to do their research and report the truth so that these secessionists have no idea what the truth is.

  • Anonymous

    Call all of those would-be states the same name: Wingnut Land.

  • Ginger

    WTH is in their water?

  • Anonymous

    Not always, I’m Canadian and we’ve seen 2 substantial secession movements in our Country, one which is ongoing (the French Speaking Quebecois wishes for sovereignty) and while it hasn’t led to civil war part of the reason it doesn’t fly is that tiny sovereign nations can’t really survive like they assume they will. Even if this insane plan did catch these counties would find themselves as tiny,economically anemic bodies with no ability to guarantee the type of absolute freedom, zero tax policies they’re gesturing toward. So maybe not civil war, but when those tiny states collapse it wouldn’t be surprising to see it head into some similar situations.

  • Anonymous

    “It was part of the deal the US made to get TX to come into the Union, the fact that secession would always be an open option as they were an “independent country” not a territory.”

    That’s a myth. Here’s the text of the joint resolution to annex Texas: not a word in it about secession from the Union.

  • Waynesworld1151

    Lets see now. They wouldnt need the governments help or money. Why dont they all just go buy an island where they can create their own country ?? Sounds like there are enough of them that if they all sold their possessions they shoud be able to do it. By the way, denounce your citizenship to the United States on your way out !!!

  • DavidW

    It’s that special blend the Koch brothers call – divide and conquer.

  • DavidW

    They’re the people most susceptible to the “divide and conquer” tactics of the 1%. Of course their movement is easily lubricated by lots of cash being infused into their veins. They’ve been bamboozled and bought, lock, stock and barrel.

  • DavidW

    Cooperative Enterprise such as Credit Unions, Food Co-ops and Mutual Insurance companies are a nucleus on which to build a better economy. It can, if built and expanded, re-direct money away from the elites and circulate it within our own communities.

  • Willard M

    Lets see if Weld County,CO and the rest of New Weldistan are so touchy about accepting state help this month…

  • Bwigbwadbwob

    If, for some reason, these teabaggers were able to secede from their States and the Union, the first things I’d do is to decertify their elected officials, and strip them of their voting rights in the State and Federal elections. Then I’d impose a blockade of any traffic, ground or air, in and out of their new found “freedom” land. Essentially, building a border fence around their territory to separate those who did not secede from those who are hostile to our way of life. Sound hateful? Their plan certainly does!

  • Dante D’Anthony

    As long as people use hate speech such as “teabaggers” (in all reality a very disgusting term) they give away their own incapacity to think objectively.

  • Russ Bittles

    I don’t think we would have to build a fence. That would be the second structure they would erect, right after their State Church.

  • Russ Bittles

    The media is doing exactly what they are told to do. Make money for their shareholders. There is no such thing as journalistic integrity in big media. You have to go to PBS to get journalistic integrity, because they don’t have shareholders, they have donors.

  • Russ Bittles

    They would kill each other off in the first couple of weeks, trying to decide which flavor of Christianity was going to be the State religion.

  • Russ Bittles

    The best part is, if the radical, right wing, fringe element of this country were to successfully secede, Big Money in this country would panic! They would no longer have anyone to cater to, in order to voice the extremist viewpoints that are keeping this country divided.

  • Russ Bittles

    I live in Butte County, which I believe is the southernmost county of the aforementioned “State of Jefferson”. We’re over an hour north of Sacramento.

    My first time here, we took a drive to Southern Oregon, and as we neared the small town of Yreka, which lies on Interstate 5, I saw a LARGE sign announcing that we were in the State of Jefferson. I asked about this, and was informed that there had been a movement from before World War 2, to secede. Obviously, the political motivations from then were different than they are today, however, the notion now serves as a rallying cry among the local teabillies.

    The reason the secession didn’t move forward? Japan bombing Pearl Harbor.

  • Russ Bittles

    If they seceded, they would then have to turn around and apply for statehood in the U.S., it would not be an automatically granted situation. We could make them a territory, and they could be the new Puerto Rico, never actually receiving statehood.

  • Larry McAwful

    “Hate speech” is a term used for people slurring ethnic, racial or gender differences. General mocking terms for someone else’s political views are not “hate” speech. I mean, come on.

  • Larry McAwful

    If these rural secessionists want to split off from their more progressive states, well, why not? However, with the Senate already stacked in favor of states with small populations, the last thing we need are more pairs of entrenched, white, conservative senators destined to be replaced by more entrenched, white, conservative senators. I cannot abide creating another Idaho, Wyoming or Kansas.

    If these people want to break off, then let them join another state that suits them. I’m sure West Virginia would be glad to receive the counties of western Maryland. Northeastern Colorado would make a lovely addition to Kansas or Nebraska. Southern Oregon and northern California can create a southern panhandle for Idaho.

    Enough of this nonsense. If everyone in this country who doesn’t “feel represented” could break off and form their own state, we’d have hundreds of little fiefdoms, each with two senators, making a hash of our government. If you don’t like the political climate, either get involved, or move.

  • Anonymous

    Disilluioned, fearful, unhappy people who see the world changing rapidly in ways that are upsetting to them, who feel overwhelmed in a harsh economy driven by corporate elites, who see declining reason for hope, empowerment, and dignity in their own lives and communities — does this not sound familiar to everyone, no matter where you are on the political spectrum? And sadly, divisiveness and namecalling from anywhere along the political divide does not bode well. Secession is a dream that somehow they can take control of their own lives and destiny.

    So many of us are profoundly disillusioned with the economic (read corporate capitalism) and political (read security state) conditions we feel increasingly disempowered to influence. Many across the spectrum have a dream of a better system that honors our values, our shared relationships, and our simple human dignity. For those of less desperate persuasions, we dream of solutions that are inclusive — which is not the same as homogenous, solutions that are politically and economically just, decent and fair. And the image of being Davids fighting a crushing and soulless Goliath in the intensifying corporate power that drives our culture and politics is not just a tea party hysteria.

    Kneejerk fantasies about “the founders” (those slave-holding, propertied white men) are frankly the pathetic, from both sides of the political divide. Those guys weren’t gods, period. Just guys trying to figure out different solutions — not noticing that their slave-holding, Indian-killing, woman-excluding plans were far from perfect.

    Now it falls to us to figure out in our own time and geopolitical reality how to non-violently create systemic change. The project is much more difficult than simple secession, but I sympathize with their sense that they are vassals in a system where democracy is a sham and their lot and that of their children is getting worse, not better. Here’s hoping the United States manages to make its way out of its arrogant and unbridled adolescence.

  • Anonymous

    If local governments were holding votes on those fantasies, or activists were working to make them happen, then your ‘both sides do it’ argument would be valid.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. You sure are some kind of fascist.

  • JonThomas

    How ’bout we call it pejorative and recognize that it is unproductive at best.

    If demeaning words come easy from your mouth, it reveals an attitude. So many people want to blame Congress (yes a lot of blame does reside there) for their divisiveness and inability to work in a bipartisan manner. In reality though, everyone has been infected with a measure of ‘hate,’ or at least frustration with ‘the other side.’

    I guess such attitudes have always existed in some measure, but the media today is thriving and fanning the flames of intolerance. Their most popular shows are the ones that thrash the ‘opposition.’

    So, whether or not it fits some legal definition of ‘hate speech,’ when you use unflattering words, not for humor, but rudely, you get down in the gutter with the worst of your ideological opponents and do reveal your hate and frustrations.

    It only makes things worse. Before you even try to work together you have to overcome your feeling toward them. So wasteful.

    It might be best to try to rise above.

  • Greg L

    These folks have been mislead into thinking that secession is their solution to liberalism run amok. This is a fundamental misdiagnosis of the problem and one that has been encouraged by the media. Most people have common cause and the powers that be realize this, hence the sort of misinformation that’s put out there for folks to secede or otherwise revolt against “big government” In many ways, this is manufactured dissent.. The extreme partisanship over essentially nothing combined with quiet agreement among the warring sides when it comes to certain foreign and economic policies is evidence of this dissent manufacturing. That can only result in fighting among those who really have common cause and this is the desired condition the elites who control everything prefer to see

  • R RS

    If it is true that Southern states are mainly poor, then they have no one to blame but themselves for continually voting Republican. So many of them (not all, of course) say “Blame Big Government” for their problems. But once a catastrophe takes place, they come to the government with hat in hand. Case in point: the Tea Baggers. Remember how those Tea Baggers were protesting against President Obama carrying large placards with racist comments and threats? The right wing media portrayed them as heroes and patriots. Then the New Orleans oil disaster struck, the victims came pleading with hat in hand begging the Federal government for relief, then the Tea Baggers all went home with tail in between their legs like frightened dogs.

    Oh yeah – right wing extremists like to talk secession. They like to pretend that they are such “independent” types. They act as if they are the shining light of reason, self reliance, moral rectitude, the highest integrity, and children of the Most High. But when it comes to disasters whether man made or from Nature, they cower like scared rabbits and depend upon everyone else to bail them out with money and every handout imaginable.

  • R RS

    “Tea Baggers” is a term they used to describe themselves. If you read NEW AMERICAN which is published by the John Birch Society you will learn that even these ultra conservative commentators admit the Tea Baggers created that term and are now struck with it.

  • minnesotamedia

    Exactly. Don’t you love false equivalency?

  • Jared Hoke

    Apparently our schools are failing to teach (or our students are failing to learn) the truth about the Civil War, which was not about slavery, but about the sanctity of majority rule. If minorities refuse to go along with the majority, then “government by/of/for the people” fails and our democratic experiment is over. Protecting the rights of minorities is democracy’s toughest job. But these secessionists have to ask themselves: what do they offer as an alternative? Or is it that they only want what they want without a thought for the needs of other, different minorities? It won’t do, folks. You have to be willing to do more than just kvetch. And think harder about what you really risk by your intransigence … something the far right ought to ponder deeply.

  • Larry McAwful

    Look, I’m no fan of the Tea Party, but I don’t refer to them as “Teabaggers”. All that does is let them know you’re not interested in listening to them. And since I find one of the least attractive traits of the Tea Party to be the fact that they aren’t willing to listen to anyone, that doesn’t exactly serve my purpose.

    My point is that these political insults, however non-productive they are, are not a kind of “hate speech”, and to refer to them as such degrades the power of calling out actual hate speech. I’ve known people who would be only too happy to have the notion of hate speech weakened to the point where it doesn’t mean anything, and I seem to run into quite a few of them online, so I make it a point to call them out. Cheapening the term “hate speech” like this is wasteful, and only makes things worse.

    “Hate” is certainly not the same thing as “frustration with the other side”. It’s important to be careful not to impugn others’ motives, however convenient it might be do to so.

  • Carol Wright

    “Real America”…THEIR America. What about MY America…I don’t like THEIR attitude. I want my own state, then I will clone myself and be senator and representatives, too.

    Oh, and “to the Republic for which it stands.” … “indivisible”…those very American words. They have meaning. How about instead of crying that you NO LONGER GET YOUR WAY…and thanks to your union busting arrogance…you broke your own country. Get honest. Learn to get along. We have had to put up with YOUR BS, now grow up!

  • Jeff Bragg

    I find these secessionist types very amusing. Say they were able to secede, either from there state or from the union. What will they be clamoring for next? Most certainly they would begin to create movements to take “their” country back.

  • Anonymous


    I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Anonymous

    They already are.

  • JonThomas

    NO…YOU LOOK! lol…j/k (for the most part anyway.) Don’t you just ‘hate’ when someone uses ‘look’ to try to take the power in the conversation. Politicians do it all the time.

    Well, I will say that your ability to keep your ‘frustrations’ separate from your stronger feelings is laudable.

    However, not everyone is as able to, nor would want to, make such sentimental distinctions.

    Language, especially when used in public forums such as this, does not always carry an exacting emotional message.

    I understand what you are saying about ‘hate speech.’ As I tried to express in my first comment, I agree that using demeaning terms may not rise to the level which is legally reserved for actionable speech, but it should not be considered acceptable language in serious public discussion forums.

    It makes you look the same as the very ones you are denouncing! A person who self-describes as a member of the TEA Party is as welcome to post here as anyone else! They should not have to be subjected to derogatory insults.

    When people on the right use ‘Liberal’ as an insult for example, it too should be ‘out-of-bounds.’

    Anyway, that’s my reasoning for my comment.

  • Larry McAwful

    I only used the interjection “Look” as a way to keep the conversation on the subject of redefining the term “hate speech”. I think we all agree that it would be nice if we could all speak politely and avoid pejoratives. That’s not exactly a radical point of view.

    I never talked about the legal definition of anything. The law is hardly my point here. My point is that someone is using the term “hate speech” in a way that takes it away from its actual application, which is for calling out bigotry against races, ethnicities, creeds, genders, sexual orientations, etc., and waters it down by attaching a political point of view to it.

    To pretend that Tea Partiers aren’t welcome here is simply making up persecution where it really isn’t. It’s important to recognize what “hate speech” really is, and political insults, however juvenile, are not hate speech. We can’t afford to blur the definition of hate speech like this. Well, maybe you can, if it fits your political agenda.

  • Donald Shank

    They promise to secede, but just like those who swear the rapture is imminent, I wake up in the morning and they’re still here…

  • JonThomas

    If my ‘Political Agenda” is to separate the denunciation of ideas, such as the term “Batty” in the title of this article, from the disrespect given to the people who ascribe to such ideas, then I wear it proudly.

    It’s one thing to deride an idea, it’s quite another to do the same to a person.

    Teabagging is an extremely crass (at best) use of language when used as a pejorative term. I’m sure you are not so ignorant as to it’s colloquial meaning.

    That word is a form of speech which implicitly carries strong feelings of disgust…yes, even hate. You can argue that it is not the same as traditionally accepted forms of ‘hate-speech,’ but the intent is the same…to lower, demean, and insult the target.

    There is less of a distinction between the insulting of a person’s character, for any reason, than many would like to admit.

    It has become ubiquitous to see insults used toward people who have political differences. Regardless of how often it occurs, or the individual feelings which motivate it’s use, insults used in the political arena come from the same ugly corner of the human condition.

    I get that you see it as ‘blurring’ or ‘watering down,’ but what is included under that umbrella is only limited by a person’s individual understanding of the intent.

    When “Dante D’Anthony” used the term ‘hate speech’ they clearly explained the context with the phrase…”they give away their own incapacity to think objectively.” That is an insightful expression of how such ‘hate speech’ reveals intent and effect.

    If you dislike one form of derision, why not express discontent with every form. Bullying is a motivation for insults and slurs. When the use of insults becomes common place, then the effect is the same as singling out someone based on who they are as a person.

    My roof is not so small as to welcome inclusiveness.

    “You people who decry the use racial insults, gender insult, sexual orientation insult, are not welcome… those of you who feel it ok to disrespect people based on their political ideas, well you people are cool too!”

    What, should we say… “come on in?”

    Yep, that’s radical.

    Couch it any way you feel necessary to rationalize it…defense of the indefensible is wrong.

    I’ll leave it there…because we aren’t going to agree.

  • minnesotamedia

    This is the problem with liberals (and I say that as a proud liberal). People wearing tea-bags on their heads are preparing for armed insurrection, while we argue over whether it’s polite to call them tea-baggers.

  • JonThomas

    Lol. then let’s just agree here and now to not lower oneself to the use of derogatory words. Case closed.

    If A person who symbolically wears a tea bag wants to use similarly derisive words or express themselves violently, that will be their individual choice, and will bring about the consequences of their actions.

    Either way, acting appropriately, even when faced with extreme intolerance, is always the right choice.

    “The test of a person’s character…” and all that…

  • minnesotamedia

    To paraphrase the movie Mississippi Burning, “If you’re going to fight people who crawled up out of the sewer, maybe the gutter is where you need to be.”

  • Chaz Evans

    I am “real American”. Veteran, father, husband and atheist. I say let’s give them Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and the Dakota,s and be done with them.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Hey…Iowa is a great place(not at all what most people think)…and we don’t have any secessionists here..a lot of progressives, though…..You can plant them in any of those other states…Texas would welcome them with open arms……

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    If they were actually allowed to secede, they would get a rude awakening. They would have to form their own government, fire dept, police, hospitals….at their expense…… They would have to negotiate trade agreements with the United States to get all products they could not produce within their boundaries…… They would be totally off the grid for power…. water…. fuel….and have to either produce it themselves or pay the US for it. They would not have the protection of our military…in fact they would be under surveilance as a foreign country. They would have no Social Security…Medicare…Medicaid… They would have to set up their own system of taxation to fund maintenance of infrastructure…… etc….etc….etc (Not thinking too clearly, are they?)

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Anyone who has an awareness of the history of our coubntry, knows that there is a periodic upheaval when things get off balance (usually when some get greedy beyond need) It will rectify. Uninformed people expect it to change on a dime…..and when it doesn’t they become beligerent and blame…ANYONE. When the South lost the Civil war……many many plantation (slave) owners left for Mexico. They formed conclaves there with the intention of coming back [ …when Canada attacked the United States (yes) …then they would come back and fight with the Canadians to take their country back.] They all either sneaked back into the US under different names …or died in Mexico.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Liberalism run amok??????? Really??????

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Secession means they will form their own country……they will get NOTHING from the US…and have NO involvement in our government….. They will be ON THEIR OWN….Period.

  • Carol Wright

    They want to become their own states for the most part. So these little dingbat states would all be Republican wingnuts, with two senators each and burdening us with more Republican representatives. It is sorta another gerrymandering scheme as well. And yes, being their own states, having to provide school system, etc. And there will undoubtedly be within those states fracturing, people leaving, etc.

    These are very selfish people, short sighted. MY way or MY way…I want it MY way. Well, welcome to the global community. Why go through all this when they should just learn how to get along?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, there seems to be a growing rural-urban divide and it’s based on the absurd power of media such as Fox News and “conservative” broadcasters on the radio. It’s egged on by super PACs, the Koch Brothers and many other unnamed entities that control energy, banking, Wall Street and, of course, local, state and national elections. Divide and conquer is their egregious game. And they are succeeding. The secessionist movement clearly is impressive in its massive ignorance of thinking beyond the labels they spout.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    It IS pretty pathetic!

  • Anonymous

    I do agree with “afterallthat”s comments. It is amazing what is happening. A friend tells me his relatives in TX are angry that there is a shortage of 22 cal amo. NO, not the 22 cal used for gopher hunting…rather the ammo that is used for Bushwacker rifles. He said the Fed’s are buying it all up….and the same person was PO’d about Homeland Security buying up all the armored vehicles coming back from Afghanistan. Weird people live in this nation. Sorry about that.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    Secession means that they are NO LONGER A PART of the United States…… They would have NO representation in Washinton. They would have to set up their own government. It doesn’t matter because it is not going to happen….We are stuck with the.

  • Chaz Evans

    Sorry about that. I was basing my statement on what I see in the Republican caucus…maybe we can bury them all in 10 foot tall snow drifts around February.

  • R RS

    It’s a good bet that rural folks in Colorado are not talking secession now that they have major catastrophic floods and the Federal government is there to help them. As usual, all talk of “independence”, “self reliance”, and “freedom from government” ends the moment a catastrophe hits. Let’s hope that loyal citizens have been spared the ravages of this disaster. As for secessionists, I hope these folks have now learned their lesson and will be grateful for the help and remain loyal to this great country.

  • Bob Rowen

    They prefer our system so much they want to drastically change it.

  • Alan Conley

    Actually George Clooney did leave the country. He is very open about his italian Villas

  • Anonymous

    This narrative is being fed to people by powerful “lucrative libertarians,” because with the US and democracy out of their way, there will be nothing to stop their unlimited quest for power and wealth.

    These are people who believe in the “natural order” of a ruling class. They are decidedly bigoted, and believe that “a natural order is distinctly un-egalitarian: “elitist,” “hierarchical,” “proprietarian,” “patriarchal,” and “authoritarian,” and its stability depends essentially on the existence of a self-conscious natural – voluntarily acknowledged – aristocracy.”

    Hans Hermann Hoppe writes: “In a natural order, there is no such thing as “freedom of migration.” People cannot move about as they please. Wherever a person moves, he moves on private property; and private ownership implies the owner’s right to include as well as to exclude others from his property.”

    Some say that Hoppe is not representative of libertarian motives. But Hoppes (president of the Property and Freedom Society) writes: “What these countercultural libertarians fail to realize… is that the restoration of private property rights and laissez-faire economics implies a sharp and drastic rise in social “discrimination” and will swiftly eliminate most if not all of the… life style experiments so close to the heart of left libertarians.

    Left-libertarians and multi- or countercultural lifestyle experimentalists, even if they were not engaged in any crime, would once again have to pay a price for their behavior. If they continued with their behavior or lifestyle, they would be barred from civilized society and live physically separate from it, in ghettos or on the fringes of society, and many positions or professions would be unattainable to them.”

    The “states rights” “free market” “privatization” movement is a complete scam. And Hoppe believes in his own superiority (and the natural order of our inferiority and need to obey) to the point that he sees no reason not to tell the public exactly what is going on– since according to his worldview, the masses are so gullible and in need of rulers that we really have no choice but to suckle up and accept our destiny as loyal subjects.

  • Gail Seaton Humbert

    Are you sure this isn’t a move to “pack the Senate” as FDR once tried to pack the Supreme Court? Something beyond the Koch inspired “demonstration state” of North Carolina? After all we did play the game for a long time of admitting one slave and one free state in tandem prior to the Civil War. We do many things that in hindsight look pretty silly.

  • Anonymous

    No Diana, they want to form their own states, not leave the US.

  • Rabbitears

    As the flood waters roll east through the Colorado cities and towns along the Platte River in the secessionist areas, it will force them to think what they would do as a new state: who would rescue the people and the livestock, fix the roads, fix the drinking and waste water facilities, fix the dams and bridges, where would the money come from? Yes the flood was terrible in the foothills but its now moving east and hitting those small towns hard. Its a reality check.

  • Diane Miller Montefusco

    That is not what secession means. It means that they want out of the United States.
    Subject: Re: New comment posted on Batty Secession Schemes Gain a Foothold Among Rural Conservatives

  • R RS

    Is there any record of these secessionists sending massive relief aid to those in need?

  • Christiana Equality Bradshaw

    They can’t have Iowa.

  • Christiana Equality Bradshaw

    The only words in the pledge they seem to care about are “under God”.

  • Bwigbwadbwob

    Did you see what the guy in the picture attached to this article has attached to his tricorn hat? I think teabagger is perfectly appropriate to use to describe these people.

  • flufferton

    The name Scott Strzelczyk does not strike me as being a WASP name. Who let him into the conservative tent? Who let his grandparents into America?

  • Matt Perry

    Decentralization, a desire for local control and government that operates on a human scale can only spring from fear of change.

  • Anonymous

    Moyers is the coward that kept us in Vietnam much longer than we might have if he had told the American people that the Johnson White House knew it was a failed adventure. Instead, he took a nice job at Newsday and kept his mouth shut. Good work, Bill.

  • Scott Campanaro


  • Scott Campanaro

    This level of dissonance is exactly what you see before ethnic (rural) cleansing and Civil War (if those you hope to ‘cleanse’ have arms)… but, you know, good luck with that statist pricks.

  • Anonymous

    I wish I could condense all the secessionists, give them some of the Southern states build a fence and let them stew in their hatred, cruelty and guns and rule themselves and let the decent people alone. I have nothing in common with them, thankfully, and wish they would just go away, crawl back under the rocks they came out of.

  • marvin steiner

    I’m so happy I don’t have to pay you to not be an American.O f course I would.In fact there are many Americans I would pay to no longer be Americans-starting with the Koch’s,and Rove.

  • Brian Gariner

    Have you read the constitution, it wasn’t set up for the people it was set up for the ruling class. Or didn’t you notice most people didn’t have the right to vote at all… And who is a 2/3rds of a person anyway?!

  • Todd Ringling

    you do realize that your attempt at snark not only failed, but reinforced Goldie’s observation that ‘baggers are typocritical whiners right?