Revolution on the Ground argues that the states should take the lead in resisting the federal government. Which states are in the best position to do that? Right now, states with Republican governors are well positioned to resist federal overreach, in health care and elsewhere. Of the states with Republican governors, which ones can act most effectively to resist the feds? Tea Party Republicans, or governors elected in 2010 as part of the Tea Party wave offer promise as effective leaders.
First, let’s have a look at a red-blue map of the United States, to see which states currently have Republican governors:
Now let’s consider a list of Republican governors where the Tea Party vibe resonates.
Tea Party governors, or governors Democrats love to hate:
- Nicki Haley – South Carolina
- Rick Perry – Texas
- Rick Snyder – Michigan
- Paul LePage – Maine
- Tom Corbett – Pennsylvania
- Rick Scott – Florida
- Jan Brewer – Arizona
- Sam Brownback – Kansas
- Scott Walker – Wisconsin
- John Kasich – Ohio
Other governors elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010:
- Susan Martinez – New Mexico
- Mary Fallin – Oklahoma
- Rick Sandoval – Nevada
- Matt Mead – Wyoming
- Robert Bentley – Alabama
Lastly, let’s have another look at the map to discover where we have hope for actions that lead to secession. That’s the kind of resistance that’s most visible, and in the end most likely to succeed. When I use the word secession, I don’t mean what happened in South Carolina in December, 1860. That was a provocation for war. The South Carolinians and other states who joined them provoked the war they expected. Because of the Civil War, we regard secession as an almost unspeakable act in our country. It shouldn’t be.
Nevertheless, we associate secession with violence now, because strong central governments almost never let their territories depart unchallenged. That’s why secession must be gradual to succeed. For a marriage that’s no longer a marriage, separation precedes divorce. Distance precedes separation. The Tea Party and other states with Republican leaders must create clear distance between themselves and the feds in Washington.
Look at Texas, the epicenter of an independent spirit among the fifty states. It’s a large state, a wealthy one, and going back to Sam Houston and the Alamo, it has a tradition of independence that serves it well. Unlike other all the other states, it was a sovereign republic before it became part of the United States. It is well positioned to lead a process that results in creation of new, independent republics.
On the map, move your eye east from Texas to see nine states colored red, many of them led by governors who are sympathetic to this spirit of liberty: Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. Move your eye north to see five more: Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Lastly, look north and west to see Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Nine more states in the old Northwest and the Northeast, plus Alaska, make twenty-nine in all. Citizens and state legislators in many of these states have already started to challenge federal authority. These citizens, legislators and their leaders ought to accelerate the process.
The case of Arizona, led by Jan Brewer, is an interesting one. Several years ago, when Arizona enacted strict anti-immigration laws – the so-called show me your papers statutes – other states wanted to ostracize Arizona. You saw frequent references in the mainstream press to the idea that Arizona was out of line. To bring the state back into line, went the zeitgeist, the other states had to express their disapproval, such strong disapproval that Arizona would no longer feel welcome at the party. At the time I thought, not only is this an interesting response, but Arizona should take advantage of it. It looks bad when you pick up your marbles and go home. You don’t look bad if you go home after your former mates throw their marbles at your head.
I didn’t agree with Arizona’s immigration policy, but they did miss an opportunity. They didn’t plead to be readmitted to the party, but they could have taken a stand for distance and separation right then. One breach might have led to others. Jan Brewer and the legislature might have thrown up more legislation that Washington and other liberal minded entities might not like. You can’t predict where a process like that might lead. I’ll say this, though: the region that includes Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas is huge. If that region were to coalesce, under leadership of Brewer, Martinez, Perry, Fallin, or Brownback, Washington could have some real trouble. You could see tremors that build rather than subside.
Slavery, tariffs, and cultural factors divided the South from the rest of the country for half a century before the Civil War. The states that seceded then were on the wrong side of that issue. Today, states that object to the Affordable Care Act are on the right side. State resistance to this abomination is justified. Politicians like to talk about wedge issues: identify those issues, and you can get people to vote for you if you take the right position. The real meaning of a wedge issue is that it separates. States that truly want to resist federal overreach can separate themselves from states content to live under Washington’s yoke. The Affordable Care Act’s significance in this regard is too prominent to be be missed. It gives states an opportunity to take a side.
So Tea Party topography is worth a close look. It gives everyone a good picture of where success is likely, where to look for leadership, where to take the initiative. I live in Massachusetts, home of mandatory health insurance and model for the Affordable Care Act. Don’t look to this state for leadership and resistance to Washington. Look south. Look west. Look beyond the Mississippi. Hope lies yonder.