Tuesday, June 7, 2011
A Whiff of Secession and Nullification
By Alan Caruba
In May Rasmussen Reports took a survey of a thousand adults asking if they believed that States have the right to secede. “One-in-five Americans believe individual States have the right to break away from the country, although a majority doesn’t believe it will actually happen.”
That a Tea Party movement sprang to life in the midst of the protests against Obamacare and then was instrumental in transferring political power in the House of Representatives in the 2010 election cannot be dismissed. People—lots of them—are increasingly wary of the central government, particularly one that has burdened them with more debt in the last three years than in the entire prior history of the nation.
In October, Pelican Publishing Company will publish “Rethinking the American Union for the Twenty-First Century” in which a number of scholars edited by Donald Livingston, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, examine the implications of secession, possibly by regional groupings of States, from the present federal government.
Prof. Livingston is a political philosopher and scholar, the author of two books on the British philosopher David Hume and may well be one of a handful of people who have given serious thought to the question of whether the present Union has either outlived its usefulness or, worse, become a sinkhole of power aggregating to itself total control over the States.
The Tenth Amendment clearly states that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
That is true, but I doubt there is a single Governor of any of the fifty States who cannot enumerate the ways the federal government has wrested power from them while imposing costs. When Arizona finds itself the object of a federal legal suit to prevent it from trying to control its border with Mexico, you know there’s a problem.
In an article, “Decentralization for Freedom”, by Prof. Livingston, he raises some issues that are increasingly troubling to a growing number of Americans. He addresses the measures States can take “to protect their citizens from usurpations by the central government.” Among these are the passing of resolutions. “A continuous flood of resolutions from the States about the constitutionality of this or that issue (and widely publicized) would serve to educate the public.”
Thereafter, Prof. Livingston recommends a resort to the Tenth Amendment by State legislators and governors in order to recover usurped authority. We are beginning to see another measure, the refusal to accept federal funding as regards its centralized control of education.
Resistance to Obamacare is based on the question whether the federal government can require individual citizens to purchase something they do not want. The House has passed a measure to repeal it, but it is stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Reverse the situation and you have a federal government telling Americans what they cannot buy, as in the case of the 100 watt incandescent light bulb in use since the days of Thomas Edison.
“Genuine federalism in America can be recovered only by political action in the name of the State’s own authority and not by Supreme Court legalism,” says Prof. Livingston.
“To all of this it is often said that State interposition, nullification, and succession were eliminated as policy options by the Civil War. Brute force, however, cannot settle moral and constitutional question.” While Lincoln did “save the Union”, he did so at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and the destruction of the South.
Clearly the central government has grown so large, so unwieldy, so wasteful, and so unresponsive to the problems and costs it has imposed that people are beginning to wonder why 435 Representatives in the House and 100 in the Senate should control the lives, the economy, and the education of more than 300 million people in fifty sovereign States.
The President virtually makes law with “executive orders” and the nine members of the Supreme Court exercises final authority of the constitutionality of laws. Congress is so divided by raw partisanship it is barely functioning.
“The only remedy,” says Prof. Livingston “is territorial division of the Union through secession into a number of different and independent political units.”
“The current central government of the United States hates inequality, but it also fears the people,” says Prof. Livingston, noting that “There is no law an American State can pass that cannot be overturned by the arrogant social engineers of the Supreme Court who in the last fifty years have played with the inherited moral traditions and federative policy of the American people like a quack with a hapless patient.”
“Constitutionally, this means that the States must reassert their sovereignty under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and recall those powers they have allowed to slip out of their hands to the central government.”
This is not a call for anarchy. It is the realization that the modern presidency has aggregated to itself powers it does not have or, in the case of Libya, is ignoring the War Powers Act that limits its ability to engage the nation in conflicts Congress does not ultimately authorize.
It is the realization that every United Nations treaty the United States signs deprives it of its sovereign rights.
It is a call for consideration that regional groups of States with common interests might provide better government within such groups, leaving to the central government the responsibility to protect the nation via a common military, conduct foreign affairs, and return to the gold standard that would protect the value of a common currency.
When one-in-five Americans give credence to the right of secession, it is clear that the problems being experienced in all fifty States, the massive regulation of all activities within those States, the imposition of a centralized “core” curriculum to be taught in all schools, is arousing a rediscovered sense of liberty among Americans.
What steps must be taken to retain that liberty and even to restructure the Union are as yet undetermined, but they are increasingly entering the public debate.
There is no debate that something is terribly wrong when a president is elected whose eligibility and legitimacy is in serious question while the courts do nothing to address this critical constitutional issue and the Congress does nothing while sending bills for his signature.
© Alan Caruba, 2011
Posted by Alan Caruba at 3:22 PM
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Plenty of answers to urgent questions. I am very happy to see that there are plenty of responses to this growing problem of centralized destruction. Please see my blog messages titled "The STATES of Our Union..." numbered 0-5 as I have some response ideas of my own but havent the resources to do anything with them if the message does not get out. Thank You for your work.
"One in five believe that individual states have the right to secede".
Well, at least a few folks in this nation still know how to actually think, rather than parroting what they are told by the media. I cannot believe the remaining 80% of the American populace are so damn stupid; I suppose they believe the American Union is like the Mafia is - once you join, you can't leave, unless you leave via a box.
Laws and treaties are in themselves only words - any state, anywhere, not just the United States, has the right to secede from any political body - as long as they have the FIREPOWER to enforce the secession.
That's exactly how it works - Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, period.
Those words were originally uttered by Chairman Mao, and regardless of my uncomplimentary opinion of that bloodthirsty monster, his words are the absolute truth.
I just love how the hypocritical criminals running the US Federal Government urge and agitate other nations to destroy themselves by splitting up - the former Soviet Union being a prime example, but when it comes to this dying nation, it's a case of "Do as I say, not as I do".
That said, I candidly wager that if even ONE state of the US attempted to secede, Federal troops of the Army and Air Force would be quickly sent in to slaughter any resisters, in the name of "freedom" of course. When the smoke cleared, the "wayward state" would be welcomed back into the Union at the point of a bayonet.
The Goebbelsian media, acting on government orders, would shrilly label the slaughtered freedom fighters as "traitors", "terrorists", or perhaps even "drug dealers" or "pedophiles", employing whatever rhetoric it would take to disgrace them and their memory in the eyes of the slackjawed drones.
In other words, it's going to take more than one little state to get rid of these - uh - bastards. They'll kill us all if that's what it takes to maintain their absolute stranglehold on power, don't doubt it for a second.
Sorry Alan, but that's the mildest word I can use to describe our elected criminals, change it if you like.
Thank you for an interesting discussion about secession and state sovereignty. Perhaps because of the 17th Amendment, state legislators have no consciousness of a separate power.
Can't we buy Guantanamo, or something, and create our own free city-state? It's time for a new Hong Kong.
"...people are beginning to wonder why 435 Representatives in the House and 100 in the Senate should control the lives, the economy, and the education of more than 300 million people in fifty sovereign States".
I've been wondering this for quite a long time now Alan. Quite an elite little club isn't it? These clowns don't know the meaning of the word 'servant'. They all think they are above and so much better and so much smarter than everybody else while their collective and individual actions only serve to show what complete idiots they all are. They lie straight faced telling each special interest group and voting block what they want to hear until they get elected. They they thumb their noses at all of us. Conway said he "cannot believe the remaining 80% of the populace are so damn stupid". Well he should believe it; it's true. That's how an imposter and a clown without a clue like Obama gets elected President. The photo preceding your blog dipicts Washington DC as if a bomb fell on it. Maybe that's what it will take to eradicate the cancer there that is killing the greatest nation ever on the face of the earth.
“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take but as for me; give me liberty or give me death!” Where is Patrick Henry when you need him?
U.S. Civil War II?
The death, wounding and imprisonment of ten percent of the current population?
Would it be worth it?
Yes, if the UNION is restored to its former grandeur and the traitors of the Left are CRUSHED beneath the combat boots of Patriots for all time, it will be worth a four year long civil war.
SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS - "Death to Traitors" - Ronbo
No, this is America, a nation of laws...we do not want a second Civil War or mobs in the streets. Remember, Lenin took over all of Russia with a mob.
That pic of DC is awesome, IF it were to happen, I would only hope that Obama was in the House!
Secession? I hope Texas leads the way... Peacefully if possible, by ANY means if not...
If you want an omelette you gotta break a few eggs...
We are taught to be outraged that all those "ignorant" Southerners actually believed that it was their right to depart if they wanted to. It might be noted that it wasn't the South that first wanted to succeed. It was the New England states over tariffs imposed by the central government that was impacting their trading profits.
The South believed that it was their right to depart and....so did the north. Furthermore New England states believed they had to right of state nullification of federal laws, as did Virginia and others. I would also like to point out that the use of the word State during the 18th century did not mean a province; it meant an independent country and that is what the States believed themselves to be when they voluntarily formed the Union and it was what it meant until after the Civil War.
Livingston's book will contribute to our reawakening and this blog from Alan Caruba makes me want to read his other posted blogs more thoroughly.
When even kindred-spirit bloggers can't agree, no wonder we've become the U.S.S.A. Conditions must worsen for our diversity to unite against a common enemy.
While Alan says liberty can be restored through laws, other comments here argue that the current legal civil war we're losing is too far gone, and might is needed to rebalance.
While we debate, folks, other nations build up with our cooperation and help creating a larger threat to us than civil war. Geo.Washington foresaw 3 major wars on US soil, barely winning the 3rd looming now from within or without.
When our President, Congress, and Judiciary don't uphold our Constitution and laws, what recourse do we have except exercising might against traitorous criminals not stopped by rule of law and not above rigging elections, assassinations like Kennedy, even martial state to stop Americans from taking back our nation.
@Alan - it is turning into a nation of two sets of laws. One for the oligarchy, who can do whatever the hell they want, even if it tramples on the rights of others, including and especially those guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and those for everyone else - who have no rights at all.
I'm afraid it may take an American Civil War Part II. I hope it does not, but there are no checks or balances left. The judicial, the legislative, and the executive are all determined to drive the country off a cliff. How are the people to take back control of the government when good people won't run for office because they'll be slandered by the media, and the ones who do run are useless?
@Donna: I will be kidding you if I said I had an answer to your question. I take heart from the rise of the Tea Party movement that there are enough patriots left to make things right in some peaceful, lawful fashion.
Before seccession there should be a law passed that says if any state secedes that all federal land and buildings in the state will revert to the state.
Mr. Caruba has strung together the words that I could not to express my views precisely.
Let new tyrannies be born in the newly formed secessionist states, but not so contagious that they could once again enslave all fifty!
A Peaceful resolution of this constitutional crisis?
A recent poll finds 25% of American believe civil war will start in the next few years.
Yes, we Patriots hope and pray that our current American Crisis can be resolved without recourse to civil war.
However, the fact remains that once again the USA has become two nations, and the likely author of massive bloodshed - the American Left - already hates the majority of their fellow Americans with a passion not seen in 150 years.
Words of hate today; the mailed fist tomorrow...
Speaking as one who is very active in the Patriot Movement, I can say without fear of contradiction that our side will never fire the first shot of civil war, but if the other side draws "First Blood," I can also say without fear of contradiction that another Grand Army of The Republic will take the field.
They already drew first blood years ago - ask folks like Randall Weaver and the few survivors of Waco.
They will kill us all, in the name of "freedom", if that's what it takes to maintain their stranglehold on power, and there is little or nothing we can do about it, unfortunately.
No one in this nation trusts anyone enough to even speak of real change, let alone do anything else. I certainly don't trust anyone anymore, period, which has effectively rendered me useless, i.e., other than pounding away at a keyboard creating viciously worded polemics, more for cathartic entertainment between equity trading than anything else.
Therefore, be very, very careful - any "new" glad-handing friends who show up are almost certainly HS, FBI, CIA or BATF. I've met them, one was a pig-faced, sneaky barrister who came out of nowhere, and then informed me, using legalistic legerdemain, that money, an inanimate object, can commit a crime, even though the owner of said money does not.
Yeah, and I'm Cesare Borgia, with a sister named Lucretia. So much for "freedom", not to mention the Fourth Amendment.
Anyway, whatever he was looking for with regard to me never materialized, and he vanished just as quickly as he appeared. I suppose that's why I'm still here to pen this and other missives.
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