If at First You Don’t Secede…

Charles C.W. Cooke comes out against secession:

But there is little to be gained from taking our ball home and railing at reality. Dereliction is the preserve of adolescents who, upon failing to get their way, pretend that they are going to move to Canada, or Europe, or anywhere else that they consider would be preferable to remaining in the United States. Let them go. But those who understand that the United States is the greatest force for good in the history of the world should not be even contemplating its dissolution. Conservatives, remember, are worried about American decline, and there is no more sure way to hasten that than to break the country up into pieces. 


If modern secessionists were to accept the premise that “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation,” what would be on their account? Which “facts” would “be submitted to a candid world”? Obamacare? Dodd-Frank? The amnesty executive order? The HHS mandate? Please. These are serious problems to be sure, but they are political problems, not problems of structure. They are either bad calls or, as Brecht might sardonically have put it, problems with the electorate. Go back and read the Declaration’s list of “injuries and usurpations.” Jefferson catalogs not political but anatomical grievances. The distinction is acute. 


Talk of secession is asinine, counter-productive, and distracting. Conservative Americans are not systematically being denied their liberties. They are not facing the might of a British empire determined to crush them. There is no Declaratory Act. There are no unwanted foreign troops stationed in our cities. Instead, we are failing to win the argument. This is a considerable problem, but we have two things to our advantage. The first is that our ideas are timeless and they are right. They will win again, whether it is by argument or economic gravity — and if they don’t, then we will have bigger problems to deal with. The second is that we have at our disposal the most wonderful Constitution and nation that the world has ever seen. Let’s not hear any more foolish talk of dismantling them.

Ok. I talk about politics a lot in this space, and anytime you talk a lot about politics from a clearly partisan perspective like mine, you run the risk of getting into a self-reinforcing feedback loop that makes you sound crazy to people who aren’t sold out to your side of the argument.

In my writing, I make a deliberate effort to not come across like a black helicopter conspiracy theory wacko, my numerous calls for the presidency of Ted Nugent notwithstanding. But, having said that, I think the subject of secession calls for a more considered response than Mr. Cooke’s “Bad Idea Jeans” blanket condemnation. Because sometimes things that used to sound crazy can start to sound not-so-crazy.

For instance, Legal Insurrection posts this about a survey that shows 22.8% of respondents either “tend to support” or “strongly support” the idea of their home state seceding:

It seems more than striking–and headline worthy–that 22.4 [sic, typo] percent of Americans “strongly” or “tend to” support their state seceding. Coupled with the more than 700,000 signatures that have so far been signed onto various states’ petitions, a case is building for more than the normal post-defeat malaise.

I don’t think there’s a regulatory body to set guidelines for this, so I’ll just declare that on the scale of Acceptable Conversation Topics, secession has now moved from “Don’t-make-eye-contact loony” to “Peculiar, but interesting.”

And why not? There are lots and lots of people in America who feel like they don’t have a government that speaks for them anymore. They feel that they are now ruled, rather than governed.

Talking about secession sends an important message to our ruling elites who think that their subjects are forever trapped under their thumbs. It says that we are part of this nation, but we are free men, and our freedom exists independent of the government.

And for those who say the Civil War ended the concept of secession: that’s not true any more than saying the American Revolution established that secession is always a good idea.

So is it now time to do more than talk about secession? No; having the option to secede is like having a nuclear bomb: it’s good have it in your pocket when you’re in a standoff, but using it would be a bit of nasty business. Let’s remember we are free, and have all the options of a free people, but hope that it never comes to that.

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