The Secession Question

I believe that America is already in decline. It is inevitable that she will someday fall. The fact that all nations and empires someday fall is a truism of history. The questions that remain are “how” and “when”. One of the most likely options is some form of political disunion. Unlike many nations, the United States of America is a federation of fifty supposedly sovereign states. This makes dissolution somewhat easier than if it were a single united political unit. We have seen such federations dissolve in various fashions throughout history. Just two decades ago the multi-ethnic country of Yugoslavia broke apart into its constituent nations. Another multi-ethnic federation, the Soviet Union, collapsed just a few years earlier. The purpose of the nation-state is to provide security and government in the way its citizens deem best. When two or more groups within a country are at odds with each other and have no hope of compromise, then disunion is actually the best and most peaceful option. There was no natural law that said the Serbs, Croats, Albanians, Bosnians, and the other ethnic groups of the former Yugoslavia must live together under one government. I believe the United States is rapidly approaching a similar realization.

The United States has confronted this issue before, of course. Unlike today, continued union was not taken for granted in the first few decades of this country. Throughout the early 1800s various states threatened secession in response to federal laws they disagreed with. The tipping point came with the election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860, an election that radically split the country. Lincoln received no electoral votes from the slave-owning south, while his three Democratic opponents split the vote between moderate supporters of slavery and fire-breathing secessionists. A lot has been written about the causes of southern secession and the Civil War. Northern histories (which have become the norm in recent years) paint the South as disloyal racist slave-owners who got what was coming to them. On the other hand, Southern histories say the North was full of busybody tyrants who wanted to overrun the pastoral South with their industrialization and Puritan sensibilities. I believe both contain elements of truth. Of course the existence of slavery and its expansion into the western territories was a major cause of the conflict, but at its heart secession was an attempt to reclaim sovereignty from a federal government that had grown much too powerful and intrusive. The only real difference between Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson Davis was victory versus defeat.

Many today say that the outcome of the Civil War settled the question of secession. Yet this ignores Jefferson’s own words in the Declaration of Independence: that if a government ceases in its purpose of protecting the rights of its citizens then it is the inalienable right of those citizens to alter or abolish that government. One of the most basic universal laws of politics is that one parliament cannot bind another. For example, there is no law passed by a US Congress that a future Congress cannot repeal. If we take this concept a step further then we must conclude that the decision of the citizens of a territory to apply for statehood can be undone by the citizens of that state in the future. Why should the citizens of Texas in 2019 be tied to a decision made by their forebears in 1845? The Federal Government can pass a hundred laws against secession but that does not change the fact that the people, from whom said government derives its power, have the natural right to govern themselves. The Civil War did not settle the legal question, but merely the military one. The North overpowered the South and thus imposed its will. The same could have been said about the Thirteen Colonies had Great Britain successfully put down the rebellion of 1776.

Ideas of secession and dissolution are going to increasingly dominate our national conversation in the next decade. We see it on the right in Texas and on the left in California. We have arrived at a place where the federal government is incredibly powerful and has far too much influence over our daily lives. Whichever ideology controls Washington DC has a tremendous ability to foist its worldview upon the rest of the country. The initial conception of our system of government was that each of the states would have its own laws and citizens could choose to live in the state that most suited them. We would be able to see in real time which methods worked best. Today we have one all-powerful federal bureaucracy that two sides of the control fight viciously to control. Why must we continue this ongoing Cold Civil War? Why is a national divorce so verboten?

Stephen Moore at the Washington Times recently wrote an article that makes many of the same points. It is worth reading in its entirety. Whereas I believe secession is the best possible outcome at this point, Moore hopes we can avert it and remain united. Moore ends his column with this point:

“If it ever came to this, I suspect that conservatives would not have a big problem with blue states legally separating from red states. Liberals would greatly resist red states from separating from blue states. That is true a) because liberals believe in big centralized government having authority over the citizenry (they are more elitist and authoritarian), and b) because they know that the low-tax, less-regulation, right-to-work, economic-freedom model of the red states would economically crush a nation with socialist impulses ruled by Bernie Sanders or another Barack Obama.”

Left-wing movements have always been totalitarian at their core, and modern SJWs and Globalists are no different. While many on the Right simply want to be left alone to live in peace as we wish, the Left will not allow that. Abortion activists in California cannot abide the protection of the unborn in South Dakota. Anti-gun activists in New York will not stand by while citizens are allowed to defend themselves in Texas. Anti-Christian activists in Oregon won’t rest until every trace of traditional religion is stamped out of public spaces in Alabama. This is why peaceful dissolution is a noble goal. Rather than fighting for control of Washington DC, let us simply cut ourselves off from the Imperial Capital once and for all. There is no natural law that says Hawaii, Florida, Maine, Alaska, California, Montana, Texas, and Illinois must be a part of the same empire. Self-determination is at the core of the Nationalist philosophy. Let us live and let live, and go our own ways in peace.

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