Editorial: The circus is leaving town, and yet . . .
New Hampshire no longer a lowly little state but an independent nation? Oh, what fun. A chance to design a whole new flag and print and mint our own money. Presuming this new republic is a democracy and the vote turns out the same, would the state be led by President Maggie Hassan? Or could the populace choose to call its leader something entirely new – Top Dog, maybe, or The Decider? Who knows? We may get the chance.
New Hampshire voters turned out in droves last week to re-elect President Obama, reject the extreme agenda of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne, silence House Speaker Bill O’Brien and replace most of the wingnuts elected to the Legislature in 2010. We thought we were in for a few sane but tame years, free of preposterous bills, political tirades, conspiracy theories and the kangaroo court Redress of Grievances committee. But it’s beginning to look like we were wrong. Only a week went by before news of a new political group arrived, a group with the potential to offset the entertainment value lost when some of the Legislature’s more colorful characters were defeated. We’re referring, of course, to the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence, an organization devoted, as its website says, to peacefully “separating from the federal government of the United States.”
So far, 35 people, including one Stephen M. from Concord, have signed the foundation’s petition calling for the peaceful secession of New Hampshire from the United States. Five people are listed as the foundation’s board of directors, including one who acknowledges that he was inspired to move to New Hampshire by the Free State Project. The group has social media accounts and a website, nhindependence.org, on which it outlines some of the benefits that would come with independence. They include an end to the stifling federal bureaucracy and freedom from federal taxes. An independent New Hampshire would instantly, the group says, become one of the 10 richest countries in the world. Of course, there are a few impediments to secession, as Southern states learned a century and a half ago, not to mention that the Supreme Court long ago declared secession illegal.
In an interview with Monitor State House reporter Ben Leubsdorf, Neal Conner, the secessionist group’s treasurer, swats away those impediments. Whether the federal government recognizes it or not, the right to self-determination is real, he says.
Part of New Hampshire was, from 1832 to 1835, an independent republic based around Pittsburg’s Indian Stream. A militia from that short-lived nation even invaded Canada, freed a fellow countryman and shot up a British judge’s house. So we’ll be watching the new group’s progress. We’re glad that they appear to be peaceful and are not calling for armed insurrection. To further their cause, the secessionists are seeking donations and they’re registered with Paypal to make contributing easy. They’re also waiting to hear from the IRS about their request that donations to their secessionist cause be tax deductible – we kid you not. Once that’s in, all they’ll need is some silly hats and a secret handshake.