No, it’s not a typo. You read the title correctly.
The formerly United States of America is rapidly becoming the Disunited or Untied States of America as secessionist movements arise in more and more states, especially Texas. More popular and widespread are states’ rights movements against the federal government and its expanding encroaching power — over issues such as firearms, Obamacare, national ID card, deployment of National Guard to Iraq.
Secession movement spreads well beyond Texas
By Dave Montgomery – Star Telegram – Sept. 19, 2009
Fanned by angry contempt for Washington, secession movements have sprouted up in perhaps more than a dozen states in recent years. In Vermont, retired economics professor Thomas Naylor leads the Second Vermont Republic, a self-styled citizens network dedicated to extracting the sparsely populated New England state from “the American Empire.” And on the other side of the continent, Northwestern separatists envision a “Republic of Cascadia” carved out of Oregon, Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia.
While most Americans dismiss the breakaway sentiments, sociologists and political experts say they are part of a larger anti-Washington wave that is rapidly spreading across the country.
More commonplace are states’ rights movements to directly challenge federal laws, a citizen revolt that one scholar says is unparalleled in modern times. Among the actions in which states are thumbing their nose at Washington:
■ Montana and Tennessee have enacted legislation declaring that firearms made and kept within those states are beyond the authority of the federal government. Similar versions of the law, known as the Firearms Freedom Act, have been introduced in at least four other states.
■ Arizona lawmakers will let voters decide a proposed state constitutional amendment that would opt the state out of federal healthcare mandates under consideration in Congress. The amendment will be placed on the November 2010 ballot. State Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, said five other states considered similar versions of the amendment this year and at least nine others are expected to do so next year.
■ Nearly two dozen states have approved resolutions refusing to participate in the Real ID Act of 2005, which requires that driver’s licenses and state ID cards conform to federal standards. A similar resolution was introduced in the 2009 Texas Legislature but died in committee.
■ A campaign called “Bring the Guard Home” is pushing legislation in 23 states that would empower governors to recall state National Guard units from Iraq on the premise that the federal law authorizing such deployments has expired. “It’s gaining momentum, to say the least,” said Jim Draeger, program manager for Peace Action Wisconsin. He said the initiative has a respectable chance of passing the Legislature in his state.
Rising public anger over the way Washington does business has produced a growing outcry for state sovereignty and strict adherence to the 10th Amendment, which says powers not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution belong to the states.
Texas was an epicenter for this year’s “tea party” protests, in which thousands of Americans displayed their contempt for rising taxes and federal intrusion. Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center in Los Angeles, a think tank that monitors states’ rights activity, said defiance of federal policy is “unprecedented” and cuts across the philosophical spectrum, ranging from staunch conservatives to anti-war activists to civil libertarians. Legislatures in 37 states, he said, have introduced state sovereignty resolutions and at least seven have passed.
…In a poll of 1,209 respondents conducted by Zogby International last year, 22 percent said they believed that “any state or region” has the right to secede and become an independent republic, and 18 percent said they would support a secessionist movement in their state. Conversely, more than 70 percent expressed opposition to secession.
…Secessionist organizations are operating at various levels of activity in Texas, Vermont, New Hampshire, Alaska and Hawaii. Breakaway sentiments and anger at Washington also run high within the Southern National Congress, a 14-state organization to “express Southern grievances and promote Southern interests.” Chairman Tom Moore, who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, says the group is “not explicitly a secessionist organization” although “most of our people probably do favor that option.”
For many, the mention of secession brings to mind the most turbulent years in American history, when 13 Southern states broke away from the Union in 1860 and ’61, plunging the country into a Civil War that claimed at least 618,000 lives but put an end to slavery. In contrast, modern-day secessionists stress that they advocate a peaceful departure and emphatically dismiss criticism that their organizations embrace racism and white supremacy. “We maintain an open-door policy,” said Miller, who began forming the Texas Nationalist Movement early in the decade from the remnants of an earlier Texas independence movement. “If you’re about freedom — individual freedom — and liberty and Texas independence, we call you brother or sister.” Miller says the group includes Hispanics, African-Americans, women, lifelong Democrats and union members. “We don’t argue race; we don’t argue Democrat or Republican,” he said. The movement also “predates Obama,” he said, pointing out that his organization started well before the president took office in January…. His call for Texas independence, he said, stems from a belief that Washington’s failures are dragging down the Lone Star State. Texas, which outpaces most other states in mineral wealth, agriculture, technology and other sectors, would be far better off as a separate country, he said. “We currently have one of the strongest economies in the world,” said Miller, a Web-based radio entrepreneur who lives in deep Southeast Texas. “We’ve got everything we need to be, not just a viable nation, but a thriving, prosperous nation, except for one thing — independence from the United States.”
…From his home in Charlotte, Vt., Naylor said he also believes that his small New England state would fare much better outside what he derisively calls the “empire.” Vermont, which, like Texas, was a republic before achieving statehood, has a population of 625,000, is the nation’s leading supplier of maple syrup and has a vibrant tourism industry. “We would not only survive,” he said, “we would thrive.” Naylor, who describes himself as “a professional troublemaker,” grew up in Mississippi and taught economics at Duke University in North Carolina for 30 years…. “The empire has lost its moral authority. It’s unsustainable, ungovernable and unfixable,” he said. “We want out.”
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