Jesse Jackson: Greene’s ‘national divorce’ would be disaster for the South

by Jesse Jackson Sr.

(—U. S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, now a major figure in the House Republican Caucus, is calling for a “national divorce,” that would “separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government.” Like her hero, Donald Trump, she claims widespread anonymous support for the idea: “Everyone I talk to says this. From the sick and disgusting woke culture issue shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies, we are done.”

This is a call for secession. The last move for a “divorce” led to the Civil War, the bloodiest war in American history. If taken literally, it is treasonous. The conservative former GOP Rep. Liz Cheney reminded Greene that “our country is governed by the Constitution. You swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Secession is unconstitutional.” The right-wing Republican Utah Gov. Spencer Cox tweeted that “This rhetoric is destructive and wrong and—honestly—evil.” Republican Mitt Romney was more on point, calling it “insanity.”

Yet, as America’s politics gets more polarized and poisonous, with Donald Trump’s supporters sacking the Capitol in a failed effort to stop certification of his defeat and the vast majority of Republican voters buying into his Big Lie that the election was stolen, Greene’s drivel is echoed elsewhere. Delegates to the Texas Republican State Party convention, for example, recently called for a statewide referendum on whether Texas should secede from the Union. In the netherworld of right-wing extremists, talk about secession or of violent overthrow of the US government fuels murderous fantasies.

Greene is just vamping for the MAGA crowd, looking to create another splash to expand her audience on social media, and —not insignificantly—increase her online fundraising. She has offered no legislative proposal to divide the country, nor written up a declaration of independence. She’s just babbling for effect—but the babble is revealing.

Like the segregationists of the South, a first target is education. Red states after secession, she suggests, “would likely ban all gender lies and confusing theories, Drag Queen story times, and LGBTQ indoctrinating teachers and China’s money and influence in our education.” Blue states “could have government-controlled gender transition schools,” or even “Antifa communist training schools.” Again, this is babble, but it is echoed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, and his much-ballyhooed war on “woke,” including how Black history is taught, what books can be in libraries, even what Advanced Placement courses are sufficiently politically correct for conservatives.

Greene also argues that after secession, red states could control their own elections. Then they would have “one day elections with paper ballots and require voter ID with only the red state citizens or even red state taxpayers voting.” Anyone from a blue state moving into a red state would have to wait five years or so to vote, time for his or her cultural attitudes to acclimate to red state views.

This too is echoed in the systematic effort of Republicans—particularly in red states where they have a legislative majority—to suppress the vote, making it harder for urban and young voters to cast a ballot, to gerrymander districts to lock in partisan advantage, to purge election rolls to throw off minority voters, to open the floodgates to corporate and dark money and more. And it’s enforced by the right-wing justices on the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act and removing restrictions on big money in our politics.

Greene probably doesn’t realize it, but secession would leave most Southern states even more impoverished. Over one-third (37.7 percent) of Georgia’s revenues come from the federal government. Red states constitute eight of the top 10 states that gain much more revenue from the federal government than they pay to the federal government in taxes.

Citizens in several red states already suffer from more medical debt, worse medical care and lower credit ratings—and thus pay higher interest rates—largely because their Republican governors have refused to extend Medicaid to their citizens out of opposition to Obamacare.

It’s easy to dismiss Greene who is just, as they say, “building her brand,” saying outrageous things to get attention like a petulant adolescent. But there is a real menace in the fear and loathing that she spews. After the Civil War stopped the last secession, the plantation class used the Ku Klux Klan, a reign of terror and lynching to retake control, strip the newly freed slaves of their rights, and institute segregation—legal apartheid—on the South. They justified this with the kind of lies and slanders that Greene traffics in today. Their purpose was to suppress democracy and implant one-party rule—and for more than a century they succeeded. Greene’s performance may be “insanity” as Mitt Romney says, but it feeds fears and hate that are a far greater threat to a democracy.


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