THE BLOG

States Out of the Union: How Lincoln (and Real Arizonans) Would Respond to Today's Secessionists

11/16/2012 02:29 pm ET | Updated Jan 16, 2013
  • Jeff Biggers Author of "Damnatio Memoriae: A Play, Una Commedia," www.jeffbiggers.com

While electronic secessionist petition mania spreads across the fringes of 30 states this week, the confederacy of state's rights champions might want to click over and check out Arizona's recent election.

In the land where a confederacy of state legislators has spent years attempting to pass bills to nullify "existing federal statutes, mandates and executive orders," or prohibit "courts from considering international law or legal precepts of other nations or cultures when making judicial decisions," a much ballyhooed referendum for state sovereignty over public lands went down in flames last week.

The "farcical pretence of taking their State out of the Union," as President Abraham Lincoln once admonished, was soundly rejected in Arizona.

While the debacle over this year's blatant voter suppression of heavily-Latino voting neighborhoods and unprecedentedly number of provisional ballots remains a still unfolding chapter of shamelessness in Arizona's election history, we know one thing for sure: The days are numbered for the Tea Party and fringe secessionists and their manufactured crises over immigration, border security and fiscal cliffs.

Arizona, of course, was secessionist before secessionist was cool with the Internet petitioners, waging their campaigns to: "Peacefully grant the State of _______ to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government" petitioners.

It took an extraordinary labor movement to bring Arizona, kicking and screaming, into the Union in 1912. Half a century before, a singular Mexican immigrant stood up to the Confederate takeover of Tucson during the Civil War.

In his address to Congress in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln took on a far more serious challenge on the ground:

With rebellion thus sugar-coated, they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years; and, until at length, they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the government the day after some assemblage of men have enacted the farcical pretence of taking their State out of the Union, who could have been brought to no such thing the day before. This sophism derives much -- perhaps the whole -- of its currency, from the assumption, that there is some omnipotent, and sacred supremacy, pertaining to a State -- to each State of our Federal Union. Our States have neither more, nor less power, than that reserved to them, in the Union, by the Constitution -- no one of them ever having been a State out of the Union.

Sounds like the beginning of a great "We the People" petition to me.