In the aftermath of the 2012 elections (note the plural here; the United States do not hold “national” elections, the objections of some notwithstanding), it seems that the number of secession petitions on the White House web site has exploded. At this point, there is at least one petition from each state in the union, and while some may argue that the trend evinces only that those who “lost” the election are simply sore losers, in truth, it reflects a long-simmering frustration with an ungovernable government.
What’s interesting about this is that the calls for secession–and, perhaps, an actual secession–may indeed be necessary before we can reach the point from which it will be possible to turn this mess around. Though the establishment, and many on the left (who, of course, favor an all-powerful central government in command of submissive states), will scream that secession–or nullification, for that matter–is unconstitutional, because the men in black dresses declared it to be so, there is no language in the Constitution that prevents the states from doing just that. To suggest otherwise is to say that the states must comply with any federal law or regulation, no matter how onerous, simply because the federal government enacted it, even when the states (and anyone with even a modicum of sentience) know that the law or regulation in question falls outside the powers vested in the federal government–and Congress specifically.
Thomas Jefferson saw the states as the final brake on a run-away Washington, and in our early history, it was not unheard of for one or more states to nullify some federal law. That, of course, is what prompted the government to visit the men in black dresses in the first place, where they managed to get the “ruling” that nullification was unconstitutional, after all. And what makes that ruling all the more interesting is that it was the federal government itself, in the guise of its own courts, that issued the ruling (no conflict of interest there, certainly). Just one step down the road to the states’ road to serfdom. And if that wasn’t enough, the passage of the 14th, 16th and 17th Amendments stripped any remaining vestiges of sovereignty from them, forever relegating them, in Ronald Reagan’s words, to “little more than administrative districts of the federal government.” Most alarming about that is the fact that the states themselves were parties to their own downfall. But, it now appears that at least some have awakened from their prolonged slumbers.
It may well be that only a resurgence of nullifications–or another secession–will be required before we can capture the attentions of those who fervently believe that the road to bankruptcy is the one on which we wish to be. What’s most striking about the whole secession business, however, is that people are petitioning the federal government for permission to do so. Since there is nothing in the Constitution that forbids a state’s leaving this once-grand union, and also nothing that gives the federal government the power to prevent it, such actions remain the sovereign right of the states themselves, as well they should. After all, the Constitution is not a suicide pact that forever binds the states to the union, once joined, even when the interests of the state and its people are no longer served.
We should hit this press-to-test button as hard as it can be hit, because there doesn’t seem to be a means of healing the rift that has developed between those who produce and those who don’t, and that rift will only widen with the re-election of a president bent on ever-increasing class warfare, and who promises an almost unrestricted flow of “stuff” to those with their hands out. Should their be no healing, it may be that the only real solution is separation. But unless we can find a way to turn away from the path we’ve set ourselves, it seems almost certain that, within the lifetime of our children or grandchildren, the United States, as we know them, will dissolve.