The idea that any American state would seriously consider secession is “silly,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told reporters in Nashville Tuesday afternoon.
Clearly, however, for many people in the country, political frustration runs deep, he said. “You watch what is going on in Washington, D.C…it’s past a ‘train wreck’.”
“But secession is not a legitimate way” of addressing disagreements among the states and federal government, said Ramsey. “That didn’t work out too good the first time, and I don’t think it would work out too good the second time.”
The plain-spoken East Tennessee Republican said he does foresee a time when politicians in Washington may come looking to taxpayers in conservative-run states like Tennessee and Texas to bail out heavily indebted state governments run by Democrats.
“There’s going to come a day, I suppose, when Barack Obama or somebody’s going to say, ‘Tennessee, you’re going to need to help us bail out Illinois, you need to help us bail out California.’ And that’s the day that there’s going to be some kind of reckoning,” said Ramsey. “There’s going to be a day when I think governors say, ‘That’s it. We’re not doing that anymore.’”
“I think there’s going to be a day of reckoning for this country, I do believe that,” he added.
Ramsey’s comments about secession and America’s political divisions came in response to questions about an online petition submitted to the White House this month calling for Tennessee to be allowed to withdraw from the United States of America.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner this week criticized that petition and warned state elected officials against signing it. “As state representatives we owe it to the men and women who died fighting to protect and preserve our union to speak out against this destructive movement,” the Old Hickory Democrat said in a statement. “If any representatives join or have joined the call for secession, I intend to seek their removal from office.”
Ramsey reacted with amusement at the prospect of a Tennessee statehouse Democrat initiating impeachment proceedings against a Republican. “Well, let me think — how many votes does it take to impeach somebody? And how many Democrats are there in the House? OK, good luck on that one,” said Ramsey.
Democrats in the Tennessee Legislature have been reduced to “superminority” status in both chambers. They are entering the 2013-14 session of the General Assembly at their lowest point of political influence since the Reconstruction years following the Civil War.