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In our opinion: Secession silliness is unproductive

Published: Monday, Nov. 19 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

On the subject of petition drives by people who want their states to secede from the union after the recent elections, we agree with the assessment of a prominent Republican governor, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, who said, "It's silly."

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On the subject of petition drives by people who want their states to secede from the union after the recent elections, we agree with the assessment of a prominent Republican governor, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, who said, "It's silly."

Silly indeed.

Preposterous, even, that people might see the dissolution of the United States as a rational or reasonable response to an election that didn't go the way they wanted. Determining the nation's political course is not a sandlot game in which a disappointed player can simply take his ball and go home.

As Jindal said, "Whatever our political differences, we are American first."

Yes, hotly contested campaigns can fray the fabric of national solidarity – something we have seen before. After the 2004 re-election of President George W. Bush, similar petition drives were begun, demonstrating that a tendency to wage an adolescent temper tantrum is a trait not exclusive to party affiliation.

Shortly after the results of this year's race became clear, the re-elected president and his challenger encouraged their respective supporters to put away differences and work toward the common good.

In the election night words of Mitt Romney: "At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion."

But rather than rising to a higher calling of citizenship, the many people who have signed secession petitions have allowed their bile to rise to toxic levels. Perhaps signing them as a statement of protest makes them feel better.

But it is a very negative statement, in sharp contrast to the much louder statement made just days ago by the large number of voters who turned out at the polls to participate in the uniquely American process that grants each individual citizen voice in the course of the country's affairs.

Not many of those voters saw every candidate they voted for succeed. Unlike the "my way or the highway" crowd, most Americans understand the premise of the democratic process is not that every voter shall get everything he or she wants.

The premise, rather, is that even though our differences may be many and large, we are able to move forward precisely because we remain united. To disavow that basic American value because of the results of a single election is, in the big picture, much worse than silly.

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