Phillip Tutor: A stripped-down nation-state
Nov 15, 2012 | 3160 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If Alabama secedes, would former Gov. Bob Riley make a good first president
for the new nation-state?
If Alabama secedes, would former Gov. Bob Riley make a good first president for the new nation-state?
Just because you once owned a topless car wash doesn’t mean you’re not a smart man.

We should listen to Derrick Belcher.

Alabama should secede from the Union.

Get out while the gettin’s good.


Don’t mind Gov. Robert Bentley, who says it’s silly that Belcher has formally proposed leaving the United States because of the re-election of President Barack Obama. It’s all the governor can handle leading a state.

“President” Bentley?


As Belcher, the Mobile County man whose White House secession petition is all the rage, will surely agree, we don’t fit in. We’re Alabama, not Massachusetts or California or Ohio. Our new motto: “We dare defend our turf.”

So, let’s defend it.

There’s one flaw in Belcher’s plan. He sees Alabama as part of a red-state nation-building project in which we’d join other like-minded states to form a new country that abolishes things like entitlement programs and Democrats. That’s too complicated. Just look back at how hard it was for the Founding Fathers to keep the 13 original states together. Their dissimilarities nearly broke them apart before they began.

This fear of secession is grounded in history. Author Elizabeth R. Varon, in her marvelous book, Disunion! The coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859, explains that the concern was prominent in several of the Federalist papers, Nos. 6, 7 and 8. According to Varon, Alexander Hamilton, one of the famed Federalist authors, believed that only in “subordination to the general authority of the union” could states avoid becoming “jealous, clashing, tumultuous commonwealths.”

Well, that ship has sailed.

Who needs Mississippi and Georgia and Louisiana? (Really, who needs Mississippi?) Why do we need Tennessee and Texas and South Carolina?

The Alabama nation.

Sounds good.

Two points before we proceed. (1.) Don’t worry about the unconstitutionality of secession. We’ll take care of that, by fight or flight. (2.) Sorry to disappoint our Confederate-loving friends such as Calhoun County Commissioner Eli Henderson, but this has nothing to do with Southern heritage. This isn’t about risin’ again or continuing the Lost Cause. (Why anyone would want to continue something that’s been “lost” for more than a century makes no sense, anyway.) This is about setting out on our own, plain and simple.

Think of the opportunities.

We’d elect a president.

He (or she) would select a Cabinet.

(Early guess: Bob Riley would become president; his VP would be Del Marsh; Bradley Byrne would be Secretary of State, though only because Condoleezza Rice wouldn’t take the job; and David Bronner would head the Alabama Treasury.)

We’d toss the 1901 Constitution in the trash and write a new one.

We’d issue our own currency.

We’d raise our own army.

Once officially recognized by the United States, we’d issue passports and entry visas. No more heading off to the Mississippi casinos without your papers.

No longer beholden to troublesome U.S. laws, we could export more of our goods to Cuba and stop all this liberal talk about legalizing marijuana, expanding Medicaid and adhering to the Affordable Care Act. In fact, Medicaid and the ACA are programs of the U.S. federal government, which we don’t like.

So long, busters!

We would be joyously, gloriously free to write our own future.

We’d educate our children as we wish. No federal regulations or oversight.

We’d protect our tough-as-nails immigration law, since the U.S. Supreme Court could no longer meddle with it.

We’d run our elections as we’d prefer — with stringent voter-ID laws to tamp down the fraud we know is happening, or at least that’s what we’ve heard.

Alabamians’ tax bills would be reduced: no taxes paid to Washington. Of course, that’d mean no Social Security checks (or Medicaid, or Medicare, or welfare programs), but that’s what we want, right? Smaller government and fewer handouts, right?

Alabamians wouldn’t have to worry about Washington sending in the National Guard to uphold laws that make no sense in the South. Of course, that’d mean no National Guard assistance after natural disasters and such, but they’re few and far between, right?

As for the military, Alabama would no longer have to provide space for Anniston’s depot, McClellan’s National Guard training center or Montgomery’s Air Force base. Huntsville could put all those NASA buildings to better use. Of course, we’d lose the civilian jobs connected to NASA and the military, but we don’t want to be part of this massive U.S. machine, right?

Alabamians wouldn’t have to worry about the U.S. national debt, now north of $16 trillion. Of course, the state no longer would get federal assistance for anything, ever, which is a good thing, right?

On second thought, maybe this secession petition is an awful idea.

Even the former owner of a topless car wash should agree.

Phillip Tutor — — is The Star’s commentary editor. Follow him at
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