Secession of a few red states could revitalize nation’s fiscal health

It’s been good, I suppose, to have some time to pass between final ballot counting and reflecting on the results. Especially when most of that time was spent in Colorado’s great outdoors, well out of reach of television, cell phones, the Internet and, yes, even newspapers.

If, before I left for a second hunting season, you’d offered to bet me that Barack Obama would win by three points and 126 electoral votes, that Mitt Romney would get a couple of million fewer votes than John McCain did in 2008, that Paul Ryan wouldn’t carry his own hometown and that the week after the election Obama’s favorability rating would be his highest in three years at 58 percent, I’d owe you money.

As interesting as the outcome of the 2012 election is the reaction from Romney and some fellow Republicans. Romney thinks that “gifts/bribes” to various voting groups prompted his loss. Right-wingers still insist the path to future victories surely lies in alienating even more of the electorate with confusing and occasionally hypocritical stances on social and financial issues.

Those already attempting to rewrite recent history to suit their conservative philosophy, who criticize the form and style of the recent campaign when they should take a hard look at the substance, might consider these words: “However beautiful the strategy,” Winston Churchill once said, “you should occasionally look at the results.”

The GOP campaign proposed hard-line immigration strategies that drove the country’s fastest-growing voting bloc into the arms of Democrats, opposed higher tax rates for the wealthiest when most Americans thought (and voted like) an increase was reasonable and vowed to undo health care changes that already have benefited many of us and our families. The result was very much evident in the wake of an election that most expected would be a nail-biter and that had many in the GOP preparing premature celebrations.

So much for best-laid plans. And good luck to Republican governors and others, even Newt Gingrich, who have within two weeks made their 2012 standard-bearer a pariah and are looking for more voter-friendly hills to die on in future elections.

Then there are the secessionists, folks whose grown-up reaction to a one-time setback is to sign online petitions seeking to have us become the dis-United States. I’ve enjoyed a couple of different reactions to that particular post-election phenomenon.

The first comes from Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who’s dubbed these petition signers “The Confederacy of Takers” … fancy $20 pundit words for “be careful what you dream.”

Milbank points out that, on average, red states where those petitions seem to be most popular get back more than they give the federal government, that folks who depend most on federal spending argue loudest for tax and budget cuts. “The secession petitions,” he says, “give the opportunity to create what would be, in a fiscal sense, a far more perfect union.”

Quit subsidizing red states such as Louisiana (receiving $1.45 for every $1 paid in taxes), Alabama ($1.71 back for every $1 collected) and South Carolina ($1.26 returned for every buck paid.) Give ‘em what they want—get government out of their lives. That’ll let blue states such as New York (only 79 cents back for every dollar of taxes), Colorado (same ratio) and Michigan (85 cents returned for every dollar sent to Washington) get more back.

Sure looks like an instant detour from the fiscal cliff for blue states, doesn’t it? Though here in Happy Valley we might worry about being gerrymandered into Utah, given voting patterns just as red as those of our neighboring state.

Enough dollars and (non)sense. I prefer the more humorous take on secession making the rounds on the Internet lately, done from the perspective of blue states intending to form their own country, the Enlightened States of America (E.S.A). It goes, in part, like this:

“You get Texas, Oklahoma and the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches.”

“We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Opryland.”

“We get Harvard. You get Ole Miss.”

“We get 85 percent of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.”

“Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalitions’, we get a bunch of happy families.”

And, perhaps most important here in post-Amendment 64 Colorado:

“We’re taking the good weed too. You can have that (inferior stuff) they grow in Mexico.”

Jim Spehar is no wiser about the 2012 election than he was two weeks ago. Your comments are welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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