Thursday, October 8, 2009

Would the breakup of the Union be a bad thing?

You know what I think, but here is a concurring opinion from Dave Mundy at Op-Ed News. Mr. Mundy states quite clearly why war would not necessarily be the result of states seceding. While he supports the idea that the red state/blue state split in American politics is a good reason to allow secession, he also notes that secessionism is not necessarily a red state/blue state thing, noting that liberals are included in the membership of his Texas Nationalist Movement.

Mr. Mundy writes:

The Civil War never settled the question of secession. It simply settled the fact that the industrialized North had more men, more weapons and more money than the agrarian South -- a situation which would be nearly reversed today. In order to prevent secession, Abraham Lincoln shredded the Constitution whenever it was convenient, ordered federal troops to fire on immigrant protesters in New York City, and laid waste to the South in a fashion not seen in war since Roman times.

Imagine what kind of devastation would be wrought using modern weapons. I even saw one comment from a self-proclaimed California liberal which maintained that if Texas seceded, "...we can nuke them right back into the Stone Age." Do statists really desire power so bad that they would kill millions of people and devastate huge swaths of this country just to achieve their goal of a single omnipotent imperial-style government?

And the thing is, this nation is increasingly polarized because of the way the statists have divided us, rather than united us... Statists, from Barack Obama to George W. Bush, think the government can fix everything. Secessionists are pretty well convinced the government can't fix anything, and we've got a lot more examples showing we're right.The fact exists that this country is extremely polarized. Every major election brings on more and more angry, virulent rhetoric. Democrats and Republicans alike spend more of their time playing dirty tricks or digging up dirt on each other than they do trying to solve the problems of government.

People on the Left Coast do not share the concerns of the people in the Rust Belt. Texas has far different concerns than does the Deep South. Rather than a single homogenous nation which shares a single culture, we have hundreds of different sub-cultures all competing for primacy.

So why in the name of reason would anyone want to hold so many diverse, conflicting groups together? Can anyone argue that, despite the struggles in Kosovo and Bosnia, that Yugoslavia isn't better off separated into seven republics? What good would using force accomplish?

The real problem is that, for Americans educated to believe in "one nation indivisible", the idea of separate nations is a paradigm shift, one that carries with it some emotional baggage. But that an idea seems emotionally wrong does not make it unworthy of consideration. It simply means that we may have to go outside the comfort zone of our thinking to find a better solution to the problems that confront us.


Barga said...

Even though both sides disagree, they are both loyal americans, and would never leave the country

that said, a leaving force would face resistance, and lose. Oh, and it isn't constitutional to leave

Harold Thomas said...

You have asserted before your belief that it is unconstitutional to leave the Union.
This makes no sense to me. James Madison disagreed with that notion in the Federalist #39 and #45, and he was for the Constitution. The writers of the Ohio Constitution would likely have disagreed with you too (read Article I, Section 2, carefully).

Barga said...

The problem is, I can point to Hamilton or Adams who happen to argue the opposite. Frankly, the only relevant wording (we disagree over White) is the allowence to form a state out of another, form a state, and all of that

the constitution clearly gives congress the realm over US territory

Dave Mundy said...

Barga, perhaps you can find the section in the Constitution which prohibits secession. I've been looking at the document for most of my 51 years and haven't found that written in there anywhere.
The Constitution nowhere makes any reference to States being unable to withdraw from the Union; since it does not prohibit them from doing so, under the Tenth Amendment, they are fully empowered to do so.

Barga said...

If there is something that is not in the Constitution we must consider the following:

1) Origional Intent
2) 9th
3) 10th

For the tenth, it must not be there and clearly be in the realm of the states. Keep in mind, the 10th does not give the states more rights, merely says that they MIGHT have some.

For the ninth, it is the same deal as the 10th, which is why it contradicts the 10th (who cares really, same basic concept)

Now, OI is where this gets interesting. It is clear that the FF intended Congress to cover each and every interaction of adding, altering, or removing parts of the country. They are the ones who accept new land, make states, devide states, and sell land. How is this not in their domain?

Harold Thomas said...

Ninth Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This means that the rights of the people are not limited to those listed in the Constitution. Your comment about the Tenth would make more sense here.

Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States [in Article I, Section 8], nor prohibited by it to the States [in Article I, Section 10], are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people." This means the States are sovereign over the Federal government. (Don't try to rebut with the 14th Amendment -- I agree that it defines citizenship as being of the United States, but it does not negate the point of the 10th).

The Constitution does not specifically grant Congress the power to acquire territory -- in fact President Jefferson had serious reservations about the Constitutionality of acquiring the Louisiana Territory.

The Constitution does make provision for creating new States (to ensure that they are on an equal footing with the previous ones, and to ensure that States are not divided without their consent -- a protection of States' rights, I might add...). This does not invalidate my arguments that secession is consistent with the Constitution.

macroburst21 said...

Mr. Thomas, I need your help. Could you please explain for my why secession is not the same as insurrection. Many cite art.1 sec.8 as an argument against the legality of secession. Thankyou, Iron Dutch from Occupied Texas.

Harold Thomas said...


insurrection: a rising up against established authority, rebellion, revolt.

An insurrection is a small-scale, violent attack on established authority intended to replace that authority with another.

To understand secession, we must first understand the distinction between a unitary and a federal nation. A unitary nation has one government which may have smaller administrative units, but which are administered by the general government. Britain and France are unitary nations. Secession in these nations could only be accomplished by a vote in which the entire nation agrees to it; or by a successful civil war.

The United States is a federal nation. Each State entered the Union (in theory -- though for Texas it was in fact) as an independent nation. A State enters the Union because it believes that the government under the federal Constitution will provide more benefits than would independence.

However, when that federal government abuses the trust that is placed in it, by exceeding its authority, the State has the right to secede, just as any party to a contract can withdraw from that contract by following a procedure to notify the other parties.

Secession says, "Washington, you may remain in power over your people, but not over us." It is not an attempt to overthrow the federal government.

As the War between the States shows, secession may bring about a violent reaction; but secession itself is not insurrection, nor is it violent in intent.

Barga said...

Jefferson had a problem with him aquiring new territory, not with congress doing it: "ew states may be admitted by the Congress into this union"

that said, i would argue that the constitution is clear that all land rights, either in states, territories, aquiring, altering, or removing, remain in the realm of the Congress. That is pretty clear in article 4

as for insurection, would leaving without permission not be rebellion? (m-w says taht they are)
if so, then it is not allowed under 1.8 and under the habius corpus clause

Harold Thomas said...

Article IV, Section 3, says that "the Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory ... belonging to the United States." It says nothing about acquiring it. I think the right of acquisition can be taken as a reasonable interpretation of this section; but it is not explicitly stated.

Now, read the end of that section: "[N]othing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice the Claims of the United States, or of any particular State." The United States collectively, does not own the territory of any State, once it becomes a State. It only owns the areas that are being administered as Territories.

As to the definition of rebellion, you are interpreting it as Abraham Lincoln did. The dictionary definition you cite is "1 : opposition to one in authority or dominance
2 a : open, armed, and usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government b : an instance of such defiance or resistance"

Your argument is correct in a unitary system, where the subdivisions are mere administrative units of the general government -- it is not true of a federal system, where the states entered into a compact; and under the law of contracts; a compact entered into can be exited if proper notice is given to the other parties. To argue otherwise is to suggest that the contract of a state entering the Union is like joining the Mafia -- you can't get out alive. I challenge you to read the Federalist Papers or the Constitutional debates and convince me that such was their intent!

Harold Thomas said...


Let me take the previous argument one step further: The Preamble to the Constitution (which Abraham Lincoln used to justify his position in the War between the States), states that the purposes of the federal government are (among others) "to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

What are we supposed to do when the federal government has consistently acted over many years to strip us of our liberty -- that is, after attempting to support reform candidates, and successively electing both major parties to the Congress and the Presidency in the hope of "change we can believe in" we find both behaving the same way toward the people?

What are we supposed to do when "a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them (the people) under absolute Despotism," as is stated in the Declaration of Independence?

Just let them roll over us? Frustrate ourselves with reform movements that fail over and over again? Start a rebellion?

The Founding Fathers didn't have any problem with starting a rebellion (which, because it was successful, was called the American Revolution) -- but I am arguing that this may not be necessary. The process of secession respects the rule of law, even though it is extraordinary according to the letter of the law.

I can accept that some people believe that things haven't gotten that bad yet; but that begs the question: what do we do when they do get that bad? It is possible that we could wait too long and be ratted out and executed by a secret police; but does it make any sense to be that patient?

Tell me, Barga, what are we supposed to do?

macroburst21 said...

Many thanks to Harold Thomas for his kind attention in answering my question.

Iron Dutch from Occupied Texas.

Barga said...

keep in mind, the court has sided with my argument on this, and will so again. We can disagree with the court all we want, but they are the proper interpratators of the constitution (unless you counter marburry v. madison)

Now, as for your actual question, i do not believe that our country can go so far over the bounds without the people responding. I believe that we will vote out the people going over, or the majority support going over. If the majority support it, then there is no way to break away anyways