A Hypothetical Argument With a Generic Statist

Non-Thinking American: Nobody has the right to secede! It isn’t in the Constitution!

Me: You’re right. It isn’t in there. Neither is your right to breathe, your right to eat, your right to raise your children, or your right to wear an orange shirt next Tuesday. Actually almost every right you have isn’t in the Constitution. The Constitution wasn’t written to “give” us rights. Our rights are already given to us by the Creator. The Constitution was written to give the government certain limited responsibilities and powers. So you can say ‘if a power isn’t in there, they don’t have it’, but you can not say ‘if a right isn’t in there, we don’t have it’. What you’ve done here is you’ve actually subverted the entire purpose and point of the Constitution, converting it from a document meant to limit the government, to a document meant to limit the citizenry. In truth, the Constitution doesn’t give the government the POWER to STOP states from leaving the union. Therefore, they do not have that legal power (although they may still have that physical power). Which, when you think about it, makes sense. After all, this country was born in secession by a bunch of men who themselves seceded from the British Empire. The foundation of American political philosophy is the right to self governance. 

Non-Thinking American: Psssh. That’s a lot of fancy talk, TRAITOR. Besides, this is a UNION. You can’t break up a UNION. UNIONS ARE PERMANENT. 

Me: Political and governmental unions are not permanent. They never are. They never have been. They never can be. And any attempt to MAKE them permanent only leads to death, destruction and evil. Read a history book some time. I mean, other than the Communist Manifesto. 

Non-Thinking American: OK but unions SHOULD be permanent. 

Me: Some unions should be permanent. Geez, you seem to have quite a bit of respect for the concept of a union. Hey, speaking of which, how are your ex-wives doing? 

Non-Thinking American: Fine. Why do you ask? 


Does anyone else find it odd that in this country we seem to hold up political unions as sacred while marital unions are seen as temporary and negotiable? Once again, another subject where I have to struggle mightily to take people seriously.

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4 Responses to A Hypothetical Argument With a Generic Statist

  1. Hey Matt – I love your blogs! Great stuff in general – keep ’em coming!
    Anyway – in favor of accuracy to fact – got to say The Constitution does actually does have a few things in it that relate to the topic of secession worthy of considering though:
    Article IV section 4:
    “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.”
    Article I section 8:
    “The Congress shall have Power To…provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions”
    Article III Section 3:
    “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

  2. Anyhoo – here’s a recent blog I did on the topic myself:
    While I am completely sympathetic to the notion that the recent, current and likely to increase abuses of what were supposed to be Constitutional guarantees of our collective civil liberties – and the fiscal insanity of our Federal government’s unsustainable budget and monetary policies – is indeed not in most US citizens interests to continue to abide under – I see this recent spate of secession calls much less in this vein and much more as part of what I term the “whiny-ass bitchification” and “tin foil hat-ifying” of the American public. Where were these people when in 2002-04 just a few of us were marching in the streets and writing letters to Congress because we knew the Iraqi and Afghani conflicts would end up making this nation bankrupt while not being necessary for our actual security? They were waving flags and cheering on Halliburton & Co to ramp up the plundering of our Treasury. The majority of Americans need to face up to the fact that they ordered up our current conditions and the bills for our stupid decisions are now coming due. Seems to me just because the person supervising the corporatist oligarchy is now once again a half-black articulate Democrat instead of a lily-white inarticulate Republican seems to have triggered a lot more of the angst than the actual policies they are pushing forth – since the policies of Obama and George W Bush seem to be in so many critical areas the exact same (just surrounded by different rhetoric).
    In the meantime – as far as secession goes – all the chatter I’ve seen is seriously half baked in that none of it takes time to answer some good questions regarding the idea:
    * what is the proposed plurality for a ballot initiative to secede to be enough for it to actually go through?? A simple majority of just over 50% seems incredibly unfair to the residents that would want to remain a part of the Union – and even a 2/3rd’s majority – or even 80% seems to questionable as well.
    * does Article IV Section 4 of the US Constitution guaranteeing every State a “Republican form of government” give any kind of pre-established justification that military intervention is warranted by the remaining Union States against seceding States if they end up becoming theocracies, dictatorships or other oppressive regimes?? (since we’re already ignoring so much of the Constitution’s mandates – and since the Constitution seems to be a mandate only on those States that have chosen to ratify and exist under it – my own take is that there isn’t)
    * what would borders / trade / mutual protection arrangements be between seceded States and States that remain in the Union be like??
    … and about a hundred more questions you could go into from the hypothetical situation.
    Anyhoo – my own take is that if a State, region or even just a city truly had the vast vast majority of its residents wanting to secede – I’m unopposed myself to letting them try it out. I’d be very curious to see how this turns out. It might be a net benefit if the seceding State was in area that in fact gets more return of Federal spending than revenues taken from that region – which actually describes a lot of “Red” States that the most vocal wanna-be seceders is coming from. As it stands though seems to me that in a ballot initiative only 15% at the most in any State would actually want to leave the USA now.

  3. Cylar says:

    “So you can say ‘if a power isn’t in there, they don’t have it’, but you can not say ‘if a right isn’t in there, we don’t have it’.”

    The Tenth Amendment says precisely that, actually – those powers not expressly granted to the federal gov’t are retained by the states and the people, while those powers not expressly forbidden to the states & people are also retained by same. Several of the men who drafted the Constitution back in 1787 thought this was silly – who would be stupid enough to think the federal government was allowed to anything not explicitly granted? “No, no, let’s just make sure we’ve been clear enough about this,” replied the others.

    And yet, here we are. My how times have changed, hmm?

  4. Cylar says:

    “After all, this country was born in secession by a bunch of men who themselves seceded from the British Empire.”

    If I remember my history correctly, there were a number of original colonies who ratified the Constitution only AFTER being given a written guarantee that they could opt-out anytime they wished. Several actually threatened to do so over slight grievances only a few years later.

    A few generations after that, the Union elected Lincoln as president…who referred to the seceding states as “traitors” and warned them in his 2nd Inaugural address that he “had an oath registered in Heaven” that he was sworn to preserve the Union, but the South had no such oath binding upon it to leave said Union.

    150 years of history since then and now, and I still can’t get my head around his thinking.

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