There has been quite a bit of talk about secession in recent years, notably in Texas, and now, thanks to Trump’s victory, in California. There are some qualitative differences between the two desires… Texans would like to be left alone by the other 250 million Americans, Californians would like to be able to impose themselves on the other 250 million Americans. But lets leave that aside, for between the two, we’re talking about some 60,000,000 Americans, or 1/6 of the population of the whole country. I’d say that when the countries two largest states both have secession on their minds, we may as well throw it out there: maybe its time for every state of the union to secede.
Hear me out.
Both Californians and Texans alike have cited the vast differences in values and priorities between themselves and the rest of the country, not to mention the fact that the cultures are so unique that they may as well be different countries already. That the Federal government is so odious to both (it alternates, evidently) is a good sign that the Federal government is odious to all.
Now the casual reader probably thinks that I’m with them in viewing secession as wrong, or bad. Actually, I’m on the record being in favor of the right to secede, in principle. I think whenever you have to make something compulsory, its probably because the argument in favor of it is highly controversial. The people arguing for compulsory [fill in the blank] believe their view is self-evidently correct to any good, decent person. When it isn’t self-evident, it must be because the other person is an evil, wicked person. As such, one is entirely justified in imposing their will upon them.
After all, who balks at compelling murderers to go to prison? And if the murderer resists, you shoot them. Let this thinking play out right to its bottom and one thing leads to another and you have yourself a full out Civil War.
The last 10 years or so have revealed that the fissures between viewpoints run so deeply that one can easily see how getting this U.S. state or another to toe the line may mean ‘boots on the ground’, ‘might makes right.’ The U.S. Civil War saw half a million dead. The next one could see ten times that.
Well, I’m not inclined to think that the ‘union’ is worth the price of 5 million dead.
California’s recent surge in support of secession is due to their sudden realization that the rest of the country isn’t with them. They appear to be unaware that much of America has taken the attitude of, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” I think this would be a bloodless secession if ever there was one, but if their arguments are good (and I don’t think they are all that bad), it surely follows that every other state may as well secede as well.
May I propose, therefore, that every state do that. Each state can effectively become a country in its own right. A sovereign state, if you will.
Naturally, the moment this happens, people will be concerned about how to get along again. How will matters of trade between the states be handled, for example? What about defense?
May I suggest that there is a ready solution to such things. The several states ought to write up some kind of document which establishes a united federation which is entrusted to deal with issues that are properly best handled at that level. This ‘federal’ government can be severely limited in its powers, so that the areas where ‘values and priorities’ that presently cause friction between the states are very few, and the scope of the federation’s influence in such matters is quite small.
In fact, I think they ought to include a clause which says, in so many words (I’m just spit balling, here), except for the powers enumerated for the federation, it can do nothing else–indeed, everything else not mentioned would automatically be reserved to the individual states for them to sort out themselves, according to their own values and principles.
I know what you’re thinking. This would never work.
Well, there is a way for it to work, and its like this: people would have to resist the urge to load up the federation with powers beyond what is enumerated in their organizing document, no matter scrumptious their pet cause is. They will have to insist that the entity set up as the final arbiter of such disputes (call it… ‘the Final Court’, or FOTUS, or something), does not go beyond the language of that organizing document or take onto itself authorities that the organizing document itself doesn’t grant it.
You have to do this because if you don’t, eventually there will come a time when the individual states will realize that their values and priorities are starkly different than the values and priorities in other states, and they will resent the imposition. Not without irony, it will probably be the states that were in the habit of foisting their perspectives on other states that will finally have the tables turned on them, and they will chafe at what has happened to them.
And at that time, they will once again start talking about seceding again.
And I will write another post suggesting that every state may as well secede, and then write up an organizing document with enumerate powers for a federation… which will only work if people come to grips that their views aren’t self-evident enough to impose on the other 300,000,000 citizens…
Ah, well. Who am I kidding?
You’re right. It will never work.