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A Word on Secession

Let’s reason this out.

The United States, like most countries, formed over time. A core of 13 colonies, mostly peopled by Western Europeans and descendants of Western Europeans (many from England) had a few pretty bright people living in them. Every society has them. Readers. Talkers. Intellectuals. The kind of people who, at parties, can be overheard asking questions of their drinking companions during intense discussions. Questions like: “But what presumptions is that premise based on, Ray? And why do you presume them?” And the other person stands there thinking, perhaps having never been asked that question before. Well, the Founding Fathers were all “What Presumptions?” Guys.

The questioning of presumptions was just starting up as a popular political pursuit in the late 18th century, and people like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Ben Franklin were really digging it, especially when it came to the relationship between monarchies and their subjects. These guys were even “crazy” enough to question whether monarchies–assumed to be empowered by God–were even legitimate. This was, literally, blasphemous at the time.

Now, perhaps you are enough of a douchebag to regurgitate the knee-jerk rebuttal that the Founding Fathers were steeped in presumptions of their own. Maybe you are the kind of predictable, public university pseudo-intellectual who is dying to sneer and use the words “slavery” or “sexist” or “smallpox blankets” or “Trail of Tears” or some other automatic denial of the Founding Fathers’ greatness. To those words, I make the universal “jerk off” gesture and continue making my point.

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, they were doing more than just telling the King to buzz off. They were asserting that they saw self-determination as a universal right. They were under the sway of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” and they were declaring that they agreed with Paine’s premises.

What were Paine’s premises?

1. Government is a necessary evil, meant only to protect a people from the worst elements among them. A government’s job is to protect life, liberty and property and a government’s worth should be judged only on its ability to do that.

2. Mankind’s practice of choosing Kings to rule them is a slap in the face of God, The Universal King. (Paine based this notion on his reading of the Bible. So sue him.)

3. People ruled by a government have the right to judge the government ruling them and either give consent or deny consent based on its efficacy and responsiveness.

4. Independence of a sub-state or colony must be worked out with some thought. If the new nation can defend and provide for itself and ensure the “rights of man” within its new borders in a way they believe is superior to the way their rights are being looked after in their current situation, and if the people in the sub-state or colony judge themselves to be ill-served by their current patron state, they have a human right to separate and declare themselves a new nation. Paine says this in terms specific to the relationship between the American colonies and the British Crown, but his themes are universally applicable.

At this point, take a few minutes and read at least the first two big paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. Click these words and then come back.

Done? Okay.

Notice that at no point does it say “and if the King disagrees, we’ll re-think it.” Nor does it say “but we could be wrong about all this, and we await your rebuttal.” Nor does it say “and if we lose a war with you, the political ideology herein becomes null and void.” No. They stated their premises, confidently listed THEIR grievances–some of which historians have insisted were unfair to the King–and said, “We’re outta here.”

The people who founded America, in other words, were pro-Secession.

There is no need to go over the Civil War, because it–more than people seem to understand–is irrelevant. This is not 1860. There are no slaves and slavery is not the issue. I am presuming here, for argument’s sake, that the Yankee notion that slavery was The One Big Issue of The War is correct. I’m being nice. But, now, there are no slaves.There is no One Big Issue.

What issues might propel a state to secede from a nation like the United States? Well, try:

>severe political intransigence at the national level

>social and moral decay

>exploding debt with no serious efforts to control it

>expensive and deadly and unnecessary foreign wars

>immigration policy designed to quickly shift the demographic make-up of the country for political purposes

>unfair tax burdens on the working class

Any one of those is worth considering and, together, are burdensome indeed. And, as the Founding Fathers’ example shows, it doesn’t matter if these grievances are only PERCEIVED. ALL grievances are a matter of perception.

For example, if Texas wants to secede and be an independent nation for the reasons listed above–which I think is possible and would probably be a great thing for both the United States left behind and The Republic of Texas–then the precedent is there, being the intellectual, ideological and political premise upon which the United States itself was founded. Also, Texas is not a special case, in terms of separation. Any state that is in the Union is a state of FREE PEOPLE who have the collective human right to declare themselves a Nation and cut ties with the federal government and any other state that chooses to do the political will of the federal government.

The Founding Fathers said so, and I believe it, too. What’s the big deal?


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