The Great Divide—and Secession? Reply

By Kirkpatrick Sale

Of all the phenomena the 2016 election year has demonstrated, none is greater than the proof that this nation is deeply and probably irretrievably split into two political camps with very, very little in common.  It is more than blue states and red states, it goes deeper: it is truth, jobs, security, and intelligence on one side and lies, coddling rich, porous borders, and stupidity on the other.  And vice versa.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of this rift at this moment is to be found in Texas.   A Public Policy Polling survey on August 16 found that 61 per cent of the people who support Trump there have vowed that if Hillary Clinton is elected president they will push for Texas to secede from the union.  Nothing less: secession.

And the interesting thing is that Texans have been thinking about secession for a number of years recently, and a Reuters poll in 2014 found that 36 per cent of the population would be for secession and another 18 percent were not sure, making the anti-secession crowd a minority of 46 per cent.  And if anti-Clinton sentiment is real, her victory in November would likely solidify the secession movement further.

And the interesting thing is that Texans have been thinking about secession for a number of years recently, and a Reuters poll in 2014 found that 36 per cent of the population would be for secession and another 18 percent were not sure, making the anti-secession crowd a minority of 46 per cent.  And if anti-Clinton sentiment is real, her victory in November would likely solidify the secession movement further.

There are the usual cries against secession: it’s illegal, unconstitutional, and pointless, and it didn’t work the last time.  But although there was a Supreme Court decision of shaky logic and narrow jurisdiction in 1869 that some have taken to have made secession illegal, there has never been any law passed by Congress against secession and indeed the one time such a law was proposed it was voted down.  As to what the Founding Fathers thought, the fact that they had no trouble with three states explicitly stating  they would join the Union with the provision that they could withdraw any time they wanted to suggests that originally secession was assumed to be a taken-for-granted right.

Columnist Pat Buchanan has suggested recently  that if the anti-establishment passions behind the Trump and Sanders rebellions within the parties are not acknowledged and honored by the government that takes office in January there might indeed be a revolution in this land.  That would seem to be an unnecessary extreme and one that might invite retaliation by the biggest military force in the world if it came to arms and armies.

Secession offers a much easier—and, if everyone is sensible about it, peaceful—way for anti-establishment sentiments to be expressed.  If you like the government in Washington, as Obama might say, you can keep it, but if you don’t you can bow out and start your own.  No more fracturing than a divorce.

Yes, it is true that once there was a war fought to stop secession, but that was because the richest part of the country was the one that voted to secede, and that would have meant a great loss of the duties and tariffs the rest of the country had come to depend on.  So the threatened part had to go to war against the richest part to prevent that loss, with the full backing of the party of its industrialists, bankers, and railroadmen.

But those conditions no longer obtain.  If Texas seceded it would not seriously endanger the wealth of the rest of the country, though there would need to be a resetting of certain trade and ownership relations.  And it would be a wonderful trading partner—it would rank 12th in the world in total GDP and its GDP per capita would put it in the top 10, and 12 per cent higher than the remaining United States.  Of course its defense industry might be hit hard if the U.S. didn’t want to support it any longer, and Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Bell Helicopter and the rest might lose contracts, but an independent Texas would surely be happy to build up its own defenses and be an immediate replacement for lost work.

In addition, Texas  has plenty of land, natural resources, good weather, an excellent university system, and its own identity and culture, plus its opposition to regulations and such would make it a haven for many firms bristling against the current U.S. regulatory atmosphere.  And since it would be probable that many anti-Clinton types elsewhere would want to move there, Texas could be very selective in allowing in the best and brightest.

I realize there might be a problem with the Dallas Cowboys, who would no longer be “America’s team,” if they ever were.  But they could bill themselves as “the best in the nation,” an independent Texas nation, and that would be even better.

———————

Kirkpatrick Sale, who lives in Mt. Pleasant, is the director of the Middlebury Institute, dedicated to the study of separatism, secession, and self-determination.

 

 

 

 

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