Did you know that there are public petitions in all 50 states in support of secession? I didn’t, but former presidential candidate Ron Paul knows. He likes the idea that states should secede from the Union. He says he’s taking his cue from our Founding Fathers and argues that:
Secession is a deeply American principle…There is nothing treasonous or unpatriotic about wanting a federal government that is more responsive to the people it represents.
Paul goes on to say that the successful state ballot measures about marijuana will test federal powers and could lead to secession. He says the same thing about Obamacare and Medicaid expansion – even though the United States Supreme Court has already ruled against such federal powers. He says, “If a people cannot secede from an oppressive government, they cannot truly be considered free.”
I think we can all agree that the Declaration of Independence is the American argument for justifiable secession. It reads, in part, “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another … a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the questions.”
So Ron Paul’s compelling causes are his support for marijuana and his loathing of Obamacare. The Declaration of Independence also includes this instruction, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes…” I’d say smoking dope and government health care, while great issues to debate, are far from the kinds of causes our founders were referring to when they agreed to revolution.
My libertarian and secessionist friends should read the “long train of abuses and usurpations” reported in the Declaration, then compare their complaints today with what our Founders were enduring and then give us a call.
The Declaration states, “…whenever any form of government becomes destructive to [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it…” You know, I can make a pretty good case that Ron Paul’s libertarian policies fit that category, so it’s a good thing few people listen to him.
Folks, the colonies seceded from England because their freedom was all but nonexistent. America’s southern states sought to secede over slavery in the name of states’ rights and economic freedom. Our Founding Fathers were morally justified; the southern states were not. And if anyone today thinks secession is justified because of pot smoking and Obamacare, they’re nuts.
Do states have a legal and moral right to secede under justifiable conditions? Of course they do. But what are those justifiable conditions? Are they when tax rates hit 50 percent, 70 percent or 90 percent? If so, Americans should have seceded a long time ago, but we didn’t. Why? Why haven’t we seceded from the Union over all of the growth in governmental powers in the last century?
The answer is because the American people are still the captains of their own fate. No foreign power is imposing its will upon us. And I hate to break the news to my libertarian friends, but our own federal government is not a foreign power – that it feels like it sometimes doesn’t make it so. Americans still have the power to alter our governments. When that power goes away, we can talk about abolishing what has worked so well for over 200 years.
Without justifiable cause, secession talk is nonsense and not unpredictably part of the pathology of selfishness at the heart of libertarian thinking. If we chose to deny secession over slavery, what makes any rational human being think Americans will allow it over pot smoking?
Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Franklin were right and the Loyalists were wrong. Lincoln was right and the South was wrong. America is in deep trouble today, but talk of secession is wrong.
For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.