Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day. This week’s question: Is talk of secession in America just inflamed rhetoric or a real possibility?
Sara at The Independent Sentinel: Nothing is impossible, but talk of secession is a statement, not a serious movement. The petitions have not reached even a million signatures in total. A South Carolina programmer keeps track of the petitions and you can take a look here: Lance Ingle.com.
If President Obama were to succeed on all of his agenda items as he succeeded with Obamacare, there would be some type of revolt. Even apathetic Americans have their limit. The gun issue, for one, is a real loser for the president. Too many liberals own guns.
President Obama now hopes for a House win in 2014 with Nancy Pelosi in the speakership. It’s not likely to happen, but a Pelosi speakership would give him two years of unbridled spending and power grabs. That would not go well.
The Razor: I haven’t heard too much talk of secession myself these days, so I’m not sure if I’m either missing something big or failing to see an inconsequential issue. I’ve lived in several states and I simply don’t see a North Carolinian or Illinoisan identity. There may be something to it in the big states like Texas, California and Alaska, where people self-identify with their states more so than others, but is that identity enough to warrant secession?
My understanding of pre-Civil War America was that state identification was much more common across the country, with people seeing themselves as a New Yorker before an American; now it seems the reverse with people ranking themselves as Americans above whatever state they are living in. Heck, I’ve lived in North Carolina for 4 years and I still don’t think of myself as a North Carolinian; I think of myself as a foreigner! Here I’ve seen a lot of pride about the Confederacy, but met no one who views himself as a Confederate or Rebel more than American. I’m sure there are those types of people in places where I don’t venture, but they are at the extremes. I just don’t see secession as being “in the air.” Now of course, that may change in the coming years, though I truly hope not.
I’ve joked that we should trade California to the communist Chinese to pay off our national debt they hold and to provide the communism the Leftists in that state so desperately crave. But I’d miss Big Sur, Joshua Tree and surfing off Black’s Beach in La Jolla. I guess I’d rather see California back to its collective sanity than actually gone from the Union, though sometimes I’m less sure about that than others.
JoshuaPundit: Two years ago, I would have called any notion of secession or a rebellion against the federal government tin foil hat material. These days, I’m not so sure.
I think a lot of people – and fairly sober people at that – look at the entrenched ruling elite, the extra-constitutional abrogation of power and the co-opting of the press and other institutions and have increasingly faint hopes of changing things in a political way. The declining economic and social conditions add to this. If this trend continues, a secession or rebellion might not be so farfetched, especially if elections are delayed because of some kind of ‘national emergency’ or results appear to be fraudulent.
It’s also obvious that the ruling elite believes that some sort of secession or revolt is a possibility as well. The Department of Homeland Security accumulating more ammunition then was used to fight the insurgency in Iraq, the equipping of various federal agencies with their own personal SWAT teams including heavily armored APCs all under federal control and legislation, especially in Blue States, that makes it increasingly difficult and expensive to obtain ammunition and firearms is a clear indication that they feel something’s in the wind.
In addition, I also note the extreme division in the country, something I feel has been deliberately exacerbated and manipulated for political purposes. Historically, this sort of thing doesn’t end well, especially when combined with deteriorating economic and social factors. Hopefully, this is just a passing phase and nothing would give me more pleasure. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t taking note of certain trends.
The Noisy Room: Among the majority of people who speak of secession, it amounts to hyperbole erected on the hopes that such an expression of dissatisfaction can motivate corrective change. A minority among these people contemplate an actual secession as being the only practical means of mitigating continuing and escalating breaches of the Constitutional contract by the federal governmental complex.
It is not difficult to envision scenarios where the federal government, increasingly weakened by reckless spending policies, finds itself obliged to implement the gradual expansion of the aspects of tyranny to keep individual states in line as the states realize the eventual unavoidable impending collapse of the federally conglomerated body in which they will participate, unless they can sunder themselves from the doomed greater whole.
There have been several attempts at secession in our history. If a state were going to attempt secession, it would need to be a border or coastal state, since trying to secede in the middle of a country without others following, would be almost impossible. Secession would also be met with force from the federal government and war as well as chaos would ensue, weakening the country as a whole and threatening it with dissolution and opening America to invasion through weakness as a divided country.
Secession is an ideal that has been with America, almost since her birth. Our Founding Fathers supported the concept to an extent, especially in response to oppression by the government over the people. In Texas v. White, the United States Supreme Court ruled unilateral secession unconstitutional, while commenting that revolution or consent of the states could lead to a successful secession. But revolution almost never ends well for either side. The cost in human life and liberty can be egregious. So, while Texas looks to be the strongest state capable of secession, in reality it is not a logical possibility. Replacing our leaders is far preferable.
The Glittering Eye: Talk of secession is inflamed rhetoric. This question was decided 150 years ago.
Well, there you have it.
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7 thoughts on “Forum: Is talk of secession in America just inflamed rhetoric or a real possibility?”
It is very frustrating to read one article, post, or comment after another in which the tired old line that secession was settled by the US Civil War is not rolled out.That statement neither is correct factually nor does it address the question.
Most political breaks and assertions of sovereignty start out as illegal moves. Our nation was born with a political move that was clearly contrary to British Law.
Here lies the argument that pathetically few supporters of secession bring up; the Declaration was not designed to be a legal move, but as an acknowledgment that a break had already been made by the Crown and Parliament. Those who signed that document noted that all of their efforts to reconcile with the mother country had yielded negative results. They specifically applied the concepts advance by writers such as John Locke, who insisted that, when governments cease to be protectors of rights and property and become oppressors, it is the right and obligation of a people to alter or abolish it. Locke noted that people are born free and have no right to allow themselves to be subjugated.
One of the most common misconceptions from American history, and one that is unfortunately accepted without question, is that the question of Secession was settled by the outcome of the American Civil War. For the record (I fear that I will need to do this often) I am a staunch unionist, a Lincoln man to the core, and I also love the manner in which Daniel Webster treated the topic. Surprisingly to some, I also strongly approve of Andrew Jackson’s actions in regards to South Carolina. In short, secession cannot occur unless the situation merits such action.
The cold hard fact is that the question of secession was not disproved nor settled by the Civil War. The Civil War proved that the overwhelmingly superior resources of industry, population, railroads, and the moral high ground of opposing the extension of slavery gave the North the advantage that it needed. Once the war became one of will and attrition verses a contest of tactics, élan, and strategy, it was only a matter of time before Lincoln would find generals who would employ the forces at his disposal rather than moving cautiously and ineptly like so many other former Union army leaders.
Wars, by their very nature, do not prove anything. One side wins, the other loses.
Think about it – if we apply the logic of saying that the Civil War decided the question of secession, the following must also be true:
The Athenian Democracy would have been wrong had it been beaten by the Persians at Marathon or at the later and more crucial naval battle of Salamis.
The inhuman and criminal acts and ideology of Nazi Germany would have been right had Hitler’s regime won WWII.
It would also mean that Rome was right in each and very one of her conquests of other nations and peoples, be they from the days of the Republic or the Empire (Principate).
In England, we would have to declare the Glorious Revolution to have been right only because Parliament was successful in deposing James II.
The list could go on and on; Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, and all losing peoples are wrong, and every winning nation or dynasty being right.
In fact, if this is true, the Left must immediately cease to petition for Israel to concede to every demand of the Arabs of Palestine because Israel won every conflict since her founding.
I think that I beat that point to death, so we can put the idea that secession was decided by the Civil War safely to rest.
The question, then, is what makes a revolution, rebellion, or secession justified or not.
The answer lies in the basic concept of government. The Founders of the United States were heavily influenced by writers such as John Locke, Charles-Louis de Secondat, (Refereed to by his Baronial title as Montesquieu), Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Hobbes, and other writers.
It will happen using this Article V Process to shut down the NANNY STATE and the SUPREME COURT – WE THE PEOPLE using our State Legislatures created the original Constitution so now it is time we use them to enforce the actual original intent without Unconstitutional altering meanings, expanding clauses, making Case Law Precedent to Usurp powers and limits on the three branches of the government.
There is no right to secession, the Articles of Confederation (which is still in effect as part of our Organic Law, only modified by the Constitution of the United States) is an adhesion contract which calls for a permanent indestructable union.
The Civil War settled that question once and for all. Attempts to secede will result in another war.
I disagree Frank. There is nothing – repeat..nothing! – in our Constitution that condones or forbids secession. Let me explain.
First the necessity: There is no question that either freedom loving patriots secede from this union or we will all be enslaved. Individualism and collectivism cannot coexist. Collectivism REQUIRES full compliance. You cannot opt out! Therefore, collectivists have always subjugated individualists throughout history. Whereas they cheat, lie, commit fraud to achieve their ends, we battle with ideas. It is not a fair fight in a nation full of indoctrinated, apathetic sheeple! We can discuss this more later.
As for legality, very nature of the Constitution is that it was ratified by states with the understanding that it was the voluntary consent of sovereign states to be governed by a central government, for the benefit of all, and if that is true, then a state can (theoretically) voluntarily withdraw its consent to be a part of the Union that no longer is beneficial to said State(s). Our forefathers did it when despotism of their masters reached an unacceptable level. Later, both President James Buchanan and Thomas Jefferson stated that the basis of the United States is the consent of its citizens to be part of the Union. Should any state desire to secede, it should be allowed to do so. Some scholars claim that the right of secession is built into the Constitution while others claim that it is the natural right for revolution as envisaged and acted upon by the founders of the United States.
Moreover, historical context also argues that secession is not illegal. When the Union forced the Confederate forces to surrender at Appomattox, they insisted that these states also surrender their right to secede from the Union. Therefore, it can be stated that the USG admitted that the Confederate States did have that right in the first place because how can they surrender a right, unless they had the right to secede in the first place?
Furthermore, Chief Justice John Marshall, in Gibbons v. Ogden stated “limitations of a power furnish a strong argument in favor of the existence of that power [secession].”
Also, consider this famous passage: “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government.” Thus it can be inferred that some sort of right of secession is legal as this comes from the Declaration of Independence, and in the writings of both John Locke and Thomas Jefferson.
Finally (among many more examples), Abraham Lincoln said “Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world.” What he was talking about should not be interpreted as being through elections only, because rising up connotes clearly something different than elections.
As far as legal precedence is concerned, the track record is not necessarily all disappointing. The SCOTUS has commented that revolution or consent of the states could lead to a successful secession. It is only unilateral secession that has been deemed unlawful. With over half the states being red states, the road all of a sudden does not seem as steep.
Going back, in 1860, prior to the Civil War, there were no SCOTUS decisions claiming secession to be illegal. There were no laws regarding it. Even President Buchanan admitted he had no power to stop southern states from seceding. He clearly said he had no authority to stop them. If constitutionally it was illegal to secede, would that make sense? Because of that reason, many still rightly argue that the civil war was unjustified on the part of the North. That being said, economics of the day and slavery, which had been tearing the union apart for many decades, played a big part. The dynamics today are as different as day and night. For one, we are more civilized in our approach to things. Our economy is a lot more diverse as well. There are no slavery type issues (other than us becoming slaves of sorts). We are infinitely more sophisticated than we were as a nation in the 1860s. I however admit it would be a long and hard road filled with rhetoric.
@American Patriot you said… “That being said, economics of the day and slavery, which had been tearing the union apart for many decades, played a big part. ” Slavery had nothing to do with the conflict.
Though he made force necessary, Lincoln had succeeded in provoking the Confederates to fire the first shots and it had the desired effect: it incited a war fever in the North. On April 15th, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the southern states to force their return to the Union, or as he phrased it, to quell “a rebellion.” Battle of FT. Sumter.
In the same Inaugural Address (March 4th, 1861) in which Lincoln promised to use force to collect the tariffs (protect U.S. tax revenues), Lincoln reiterated his previous statements that he had no intent, no lawful right and no inclination to interfere with slavery where it existed.
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.
What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.” –Abraham Lincoln, from letter to Horace Greeley, Aug. 22, 1862
So..really it was all about Economics. Hope this helps.
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I sent a request for you to come to our Jackson Madison County TEA Party here in Jackson TN when you come to the states. I have not gotten an answer. When are you coming? I heard on Hagmann and Hagmann program last night that North Korea’s missile is aimed toward S.Korea, Australia, and some American military places overseas. Praying for y’all over there. Thank you for being a man of integrity and honor and standing up for truth. We need more men to follow your example. GOD bless.