The election is over but the rhetoric isn’t and the sore losers have taken to the net with their solution to their loss. Yes the old, “If I can’t have it my way, I want to pack my toys up and leave.” strategy that worked so well for them in the past. Secession of the States. It comes complete with the tired old cries of “States Rights” and “Oppressive Government.” and if you act now you too can sign the petition. (This one is for Kansas but there are 20 other states to chose from. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/petition-peaceful-secession/zmshT35Q) Now to be fair, there has always been people since even before the American War to Kill Other People Who Are Wearing a Different Color Uniform Four; (The others being the American Revolution Against People Who Wear Red, the American Revolution Redux: They Wear Plaid and The American War Against the People Who Used to Own Texas.” who for whatever reason decided the Federal Government was the Big Bad Wolf so they would take their bundle of goodies and get the hell out.
All humor aside, People who think that the states can or should secede from the Union are seriously out of touch with reality. Ignoring the economic and interdependency issues for a moment, the legality of the issue is clear. Even the document that many secessionist claim is being violated by the Federal Government gives them not a recourse such as secession. There is no implied or specific right to secede from the United States. As a matter of fact the ratification and subsequent institution of the U.S. Constitution amongst the states would seem to be counter to their claims. Furthermore, the very legality of the issue was solved by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Texas V White. Not to mention that fact that several states tried that in the past and it didn’t work out well for them. Yet, lets look at some of the claims that they make in the case for secession.
1. Violations of the 10th Amendment.
Basically powers not given to the Federal Government is reserved to the States. Some of the people who support secession or the right of secession think this has been dominated and ignored by the Federal Government. Yet, very few laws have been overturned on the basis of the 10th Amendment with the Supreme Court even going so far in US. V Darby (312 U.S. 100, 124 (1941) to say and I quote; “The amendment states but a truism that all is retained which has not been surrendered. There is nothing in the history of its adoption to suggest that it was more than declaratory of the relationship between the national and state governments as it had been established by the Constitution before the amendment or that its purpose was other than to allay fears that the new national government might seek to exercise powers not granted, and that the states might not be able to exercise fully their reserved powers.” Going further still the Supreme Court in past cases referred to the 10th Amendment setting up dual sovereignty and not co sovereignty as suggest by secessionists. To simplify that, it means that citizens are subjected to two governments each with its own powers that being of the State and Federal with a hierarchy of Federal being the the highest and State the second highest as stated already by the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
While claiming to respect Constitutional Law , the secessionists and others who share similar beliefs make the claim that Obamacare, and a few other pieces of legislation are what violate this amendment. Not arguing the benefits or flaws of Obamacare (Which are outside the scope of this post.), we have to look at a couple of fundamental facts. One, the case has already been reviewed by the Supreme Court and subsequently found to be constitutional. It was not rejected on 10th Amendment grounds and while a secessionist might claim that the Supreme Court is illegitimate or corrupt, both an emotional non-factual response, it however is how the system works and a system they claim to support as part of the U.S. Constitution. Two the individual mandate, the part most find the most offensive to their personal liberty, can clearly be upheld under both the Necessary and Proper Clause as well as the Commerce Clause and when dealing with 10th Amendment rejections, the Supremacy Clause.
2.Lost the Consent of the Governed.
Or as I like to call it the whiny loser claim. This is one area where philosophy diverges from reality in a big way. The reality is that a minority of political minded folks have cherry picked the Declaration of Independence to support their cause by making the claim the government is no longer a government by citizen consent. When in fact, the results from the recent election demonstrate exactly the opposite. The the majority, the ones who elected the President do consent to the government. Only a smaller, more vocal minority believe that the government is not a government of the people, by the people. What they are really saying is that the government isn’t governed by people who think and believe like them and therefore the government is invalid. How is that any different from a child on a playground who doesn’t get his way, quitting and going home? Secessionists clearly have the philosophy of governing down to rote, but don’t understand that reality and practice are much different than theory. The secessionist’s and supporter’s right to vote and to work through the political system to achieve their goals has not been diminished or removed. Their voice was heard and rejected by the majority but while this might sting them personally it still means their rights as a minority are still protected.
3. Not what the Founders Intended.
Otherwise, the “I have lost the argument and I have to resort to this…”; claim. Admittedly we have the advantage of being able to look a the Founder’s thoughts on the formation of our government with the Federalist and Anti Federalist papers. yet unless a time traveling anthropologist gave them a magic eight ball, there is no way the Founders could have any idea, clue or foresight to know where the United States Of America would progress. Their goal or intention if you will, was to form “A more perfect Union” and more or less that is what they did. Obviously some, the secessionists, feel that it is no longer that way but despite what they think ,the Founders accomplished what they intended. To put it in a nutshell, the system works and as long as the system works the intentions of the Founders are satisfied.
4. Trampled Personal Liberty.
This is another one of those more esoteric claims. Personal liberty for one does not mean free from consequences. Lets take seat belt laws for example. I will freely admit I am not a fan of seat belts. To me they are uncomfortable or restrictive in some ways. Yet, I wear a seat belt when I drive. Why? Besides the fact it is a law in my state, it makes sense from a safety standpoint. Can the government mandate that I wear seat belts? We know they do but should they? Well obviously it would fall under the “provide for the general welfare” of the Constitution so they have it there but should they go that far. Yes, they should. As much as I don’t like seat belts I have to admit they save lives either mine or someone else’s and while I might find them uncomfortable the fact remains that my actions of not wearing my seat belt could effect the actions of others. Now, I am not going to go in-depth into a discussion on cause and effect so addressing how my actions of not wearing a seat belt will effect others doesn’t matter at this point. What matters is the government, especially one that is by the people for the people, has a vested interest in the survival rate of drivers.
Back to Obamacare, the government has a vested interest in seeing that all citizens have access to affordable, (Hence the access part.) dependable, healthcare. Don’t get me wrong, I am not exactly saying that Obamacare accomplishes that. What I am saying is that the government has an interest in seeing that proper healthcare is available to all. Yet some of the secessionists seem to be upset over the fact that the government has mandated that they have insurance or pay a fine. The choice of choosing between a fine or insurance is still an act of personal liberty. You can choose either action and suffer either consequence the choice is up to you. Your rights have not been trampled but clarified in the case of healthcare. It would be different if you were arrested for not having health insurance as that would be a clear case of losing one’s personal liberty. Granted I might be over simplifying the issue somewhat but the principle remains the same.
What it seems like is the claim of trampled personal liberty is more of a “I don’t want to spend money.” Which if you look closely is one of the major complaints that are interwoven in all the claims.
5. I don’t support a welfare state.
To me this is by far the most interesting of the claims. I hear and read things like, “All they want is their welfare check.” and “They want to redistribute wealth.” or the more clear, “They want to take my hard earned money and give it to someone else.”. I will go ahead and stipulate that the entitlement programs in the country at present are in need of reform. Money is not being spent wisely in my opinion on entitlement programs. Yet, I do not want to eliminate entitlement programs nor do I believe we live in a welfare state (country). First off, the Constitution provides that Congress can and should provide for the general welfare of the citizenry. Abject poverty levels effect all tiers of society. While entitlement programs should not provide for the permanent relief of poverty conditions it should provide a pathway to poverty reduction. Like I said the current entitlement programs are in need of spending reform, but their existence is necessary for the further advancement of not only society at large but for the country as a whole.
When stated like this the typically response is along the lines of “Well, churches and other none profit providers give those services.” and the ever popular, “Once on these programs, people don’t want to leave them.” Both of which are basically untrue as a whole. Oh, I am sure there is an individual case here and there as evidence of some that have passed thru the news media but overall that is not the case. All the states administer their programs. These entitlement programs that are an anathema to the secessionist are actually engaging in state’s rights by running their own programs with Federal monies. Yes, there are Federal guidelines but it is up to the states to run the programs. Most states have methods for getting people off the welfare roles. Mandatory job training and job search criteria, short reapplication time periods where recipients must reapply after 6 months or less to make sure they are not receiving benefits that they aren’t entitled to. Conditional enrollment and other methods of trying to mitigate the issues connected with long term welfare dependency. Of course, no system is perfect and some will slip through the cracks and others won’t get the help they need but that isn’t the problem the secessionists have. The problem as they see it is their personal money in the form of taxes are being taken from them and given to someone else.
Honestly the fact that secessionists complain about money going to welfare programs in the form of taxes is really the rub of it all. Society as a whole benefits when the lowest common denominator is higher than it could be. Therefore their monies that are removed from them and given to the welfare recipients benefit them as well. Yes, you could extrapolate that out to make the point of taking the money to a real redistribution of wealth but that would be communism not socialism. Which I might point out that the Federal Government is not set up to support or enact communism and that the people of the country, and I mean the majority, wouldn’t support it in any case. We are talking about the government taking in taxes and then using those monies to develop programs for the betterment of the country as a whole. Yes, currently there is no balanced budget and the country spends more than it takes in and that needs to be addressed but focusing on entitlement programs for the sake of elimination on the basis that it is a redistribution of wealth is a fallacy in part and parcel.
6. Taxes are to high.
I can’t think of a single generation that hasn’t complained that taxes are to high. Complaining about taxes probably should have been enshrined in the Constitutions as it was part of the reason we rebelled against England in the first place. No one likes paying money but the fact is it is a necessary evil. Police, Fire, defense, public safety etc are all necessary for the functioning of a modern society. Yet the common issue besides the cost is like in complaint 5, the money is going to places they don’t believe it should go. Most of the secessionists typically adhere to the Austrian school of economic theory, which I might point out has never been mainstream economic theory and has been debunked on more than one occasion. So why do they stick to it? Because it supports their argument and beliefs. More importantly it allows them to ignore facts and deny their existence when it comes to the economy and how taxes work and benefit society. Lets take one example. Mitt Romney made the comment that 47 percent of American’s don’t pay taxes. However, that is just blatantly wrong. About 47 percent of Americans either don’t pay in or they receive money back at the end of the tax cycle. Yet, on each pay check money for social security, medicare and payroll tax is taken out of their check. First off, they are paying taxes as it comes out of their pay check obviously. Yet what about the money they get back at the end of the year? If you have ever filed a tax return you notice that some where in one of the lines you notice there is a tax that is paid before you figure your refund. Then after everything is taken into account you are given a refund of your tax money by X amount. Admittedly some to get more back than they paid in and perhaps that is a loophole that needs to be addressed but the fact remains that for a period of time the government held that tax money in its possession. So what happens to that money. It earns interest in a free market economy. That interest is then kept by the government and used to government programs. Hence the 47 percent did contribute to the overall taxes to the government. Again this was stated simply but the principle still works.
Does this mean secessionists are right that taxes are to high? No it doesn’t. Taxes as a percentage of GDP are at the lowest since 1955. ( http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=205)
7. The Federal Reserve is illegal, unconstitutional and just plain bad.
Every time I hear and see this and the accompanying reasoning and usual conspiracy theory it demonstrates clearly the lack of understanding of secessionists of how macroeconomies work. They obviously don’t realize that the Federal Reserve actually has mitigated boom and bust cycles and help prevent occurrences of situations like the Great Depression. It has centralized monetary policy to provide for stable markets and has the central goal of reducing impacts of inflation. Like I said previously the secessionists and others like them take the approach of the Austrian School of Economics. This economic theory has more to do with subjective value than actual value which is why it doesn’t work in macroeconomies. This has really flared recently with the bailouts and stimulus outlay. I will freely admit that I was unhappy about the bailouts and stimulus outlays. I would have preferred a measured monetary response but I understand why that couldn’t happen and why it was necessary for there to be bailouts and stimulus. Really all we have to do it look back at both World Com and Enron to see the damage a sudden catastrophic collapse could cause. Now imagine those on a larger scale and that was the conditions in 2008. Had AIG, Chrysler, General Motors and other recipients of bailout funds been allowed to collapse the economy would be shattered and we would be in the throes of a second Great Depression which would have spread worldwide in matter of days. Lets be clear however, that the moniker of “To Big to Fail” made for a great sound bite it only confused the truth of the situation but “To big and intertwined and interrelated”, doesn’t make for a good sound bite. We only have to look at General Motors to see a small example of what I am talking about. General Motors Financial Division held a subsidiary names GMAC Financial. GMAC Financial was one of the mortgage companies complicit in the mortgage bubble by the bundling of mortgage securities that were sub par and then sold under the prospect of solid loan applications. When this occurred, General Motors as a whole, facing other serious financial problems faced a total company collapse. Had such a collapse occurred the ripple effect would have shut down other companies, some not even directly dependent on GM and would have devastated economy as a whole. This was not the Federal Reserves creation it was an outgrowth of bad corporate policies that lead to it but was left to the Fed to fix. (Unions played a big role to in the problem but that is for another post.)
Still, the Federal Reserve is one of the few private/government partnerships that actually pay money to the government. By the application of fees for currency transfer and other applications the Fed actually returns money back into the Treasury. Yet, this does not persuade the secessionists. The fact that a centralized banking system exists is something abhorrent to them but has very little basis in fact or reality.
8. The President is assuming to much power and is by passing the Constitution.
This has to be my favorite complaint. For people who claim to understand the Constitution and how it works they sure do display a large amount of misunderstanding. Lets start with one of the big ones, shall we. Only Congress can declare War. Yes, this is absolutely true. Can you name the last time war was declared? So the War in Iraq and Afghanistan is unconstitutional? Both a resounding no. In both cases there was no declared war. First off, the Constitution says only Congress can declare war but if war is not declared then there is no unconstitutional action by the President to engage in oversees operations. Seems like I am splitting hairs but that isn’t really the case. By Treaty we are a member of the United Nations, right.. wrong or indifferent, we are a part of the UN. Therefore our obligation to send troops to other countries for hostile action, sanctioned by the U.S. Congress, under UN mandate falls under the Supremacy Clause. Technically, it was not a war but an international operation, same with Afghanistan and Libya. “But it was a war!” according to the typical response. Again this shows a lack of understanding and the misuse of the word war. By common vernacular it could be called a war but I can call a tree a spoon and it doesn’t make the tree a spoon. War is the total contribution by a state for the purpose of executing by force an action that leads to a resolution of a primary conflict. A declared war requires a total adaptation of the economy to war conditions, hence the term “Wartime Economy.” This is the difference between a 30 second sound bite and reality. It is easier for the people in the media to call it the “War in Iraq” instead of “”Ongoing conflict resolution operations in accordance with International Law.” I am not saying I agree with the War in Iraq or the War in Afghanistan (outside the scope of this post.) I am saying that calling it unconstitutional has no basis in fact or the rule of law that secessionists claim to respect.
Of course if that was the only part of this complaint if might be a little obvious that they were mistaken but this claim contains more than just issues with the constitutionality of war. While connected but not directly related we have the claim that the President is killing people with drones and that is illegal and unconstitutional when used against American citizens abroad. Lets address the first part of that. Yes, the President has authorized deadly force against individuals through drone strikes. Yes, individuals with American citizenship were targeted and killed in overseas drone strikes. Now, to the second part, was it legal and unconstitutional? The suggestion that the US Constitution is boundless and applies in foreign sovereign states is pure arrogance. Your rights as an American Citizen come to a screeching halt at the border of the United States. As much as the secessionists might disagree with that I can not see how they can claim otherwise. In the case of the person in Yemen who was an American citizen he was there for the purpose of engaging terrorist activities. He was in another sovereign country, under their jurisdiction. As long as Yemen gave permission for the strike it was legal in all sense of the word. While the President could not authorize a strike inside the US borders there are no strict legal impediments to strikes outside the country. A person could make the claim that it is illegal in deference to Human Rights but I should remind everyone that the US is not a party to the International Court of Justice which would hear such claims. The over arching point is that drone strikes while could be classified as immoral are not illegal even when pertaining to citizens outside the borders of the United States.
By this point a secessionist could make the claim that everything written up to this point is based in the legal interpretation of events and technical loopholes. To a point, yes they would be correct. Yet, the Rule of Law is one of the enshrined principles of the US Constitution. Over 250 years of precedent come into play when looking that the US Constitution and to ignore it is to deny the rights of all peoples to have their voices heard and to be judged by a jury of their peers and have the right of appeal of said verdict. In the case of overseas drone strikes it might seem that the same situation applies but the fact is that the Constitution was never meant to apply outside the United States nor would any other nation state agree to abide by its terms for violation of their sovereignty.
We still are not done with the seemingly unconstitutional actions of the President. We are up to the part on the use of Executive Orders. Executive Orders are not unconstitutional and have only been overturned twice in the history of executive orders and overturned by legislative action once but that action was overturned by the Supreme Court. Furthermore, these orders typically cite the specific law that pertains to each issuance. They are used under the Constitutional authority granted the Executive branch by the Constitution. Like every claim so far the secessionists are basing their claims on their interpretation of the Constitution and then using that interpretation to force adherence to their beliefs by having everyone who doesn’t think like them accept their decision to secede from the Union.
Lets see, where are we now?
9. The Federal Government Overspends.
This is actually interwoven into the other claims but it deserves a chance to be addressed on its own. At 16 trillion dollars and climbing I don’t think anyone or at least no one I am aware of thinks that this level can be maintained. Secessionists and others claim the way to fix the problem is by eliminating all the programs and agencies that they think stifle their personal liberty. Specific examples include the Department of Energy, the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency. Oh, to be sure they have others but these are typically the big three then mention first. Why target these Departments? Usually the logic is they trample on their individual liberties. However once again the reality isn’t as bleak as they make it out to be. The Department of Energy is a target for their angst because the secessionists believe that it is holding back the right to punch holes in the ground and extract the necessary minerals on public land. The interesting part of that is Public Land. What about the people who don’t want the land scared or deforested for grazing? Or the people who don’t want it marred by ATV tracks? Are they not entitled to protection? The same could be said with the animosity towards the EPA. Despite a persons belief there is no where in the Constitution that upholds a persons rights to destroy water systems by dumping pollution. Or not to take steps to provide for the elimination of hazardous wastes that come from a power plant.
Now in all fairness, policies from both the DOE and the EPA should be backed up by sound and clear science and recently there has been some concerns that this is not the case. In those situations the regulations that were imposed needs to be addressed and dealt with till they do come in line with proper science. However, that does not mean eliminate the Agency, it means to bring it back to its true purpose. Nor does it mean that when sound science calls for a regulation that it not be imposed. Case in point, EPA regulations in conjunction with participation by the Department of Agriculture to impose regulations of new farming techniques to minimize agricultural runoff to prevent ecological damage to water systems. Which I might point out while increasing the initial cost to the farmers the fact that these techniques actually increased farm yields outweighed that same initial cost and provided a benefit to all the United States both in providing more goods that could go to market and cleaner and ecologically sound water systems. Yet, to the secessionist and others it was the government telling them what to do and trampling on their personal liberty. Now, who is splitting hairs? These farmers could still be farmers, so their liberty wasn’t taken away, but they had to farm using better technology and better methods that in the end benefited them as much as people who might be downstream. That isn’t the point to a secessionist, no matter how good or bad the regulation is the fact there is regulation is where their problem is.
On to the Department of Education, the evil government propaganda machine, at least to a secessionist. You know, the one pushing the Communist, Homosexual, Liberal Agenda. Lets let the platform for the 1996 Republican Party explain their position. ““The Federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place. This is why we will abolish the Department of Education.” I am going to stick to this first but I want to say that while this is the stated position of the 1996 Republican Platform it is also the point of view of most if not all secessionists. Again, the secessionist and the republican lack of understanding of the Constitution, even though they claim otherwise, is astounding. This is addressed clearly under the Necessary and Proper Clause and the Commerce Clause. How is having standards of education that is the same across all states not part of the Constitution, much less common sense? How is it unconstitutional to promote an educated populace? One that as it progresses in age can bring innovation and new ideas to the market place and society as a whole. Yet, lets not stand on principle here, lets look at one of their chief complaints about the Department of Education.
It was founded by Jimmy Carter as a thank you to the teachers unions. So the fact that the American Federation of Teachers opposed it, doesn’t matter? How about the fact that the Department of Education has been an office level unit of the Federal Government since 1867. Or the fact it was created by separating an already existing department into three separate departments. This was done by an act of Congress and signed by Jimmy Carter in 1979. How about the fact it is the smallest of all Cabinet Departments with employees that only number around 5000. So where is the problem? The fundamental issue is that most secessionists and others don’t believe there should be a Federal set of standards for education. Which interestingly enough was not the case till the No Child Left Behind Act. Prior to that Act there was no federal standards. Still even with the No Child Left Behind Act the Department of Education does not regulate education it only promotes programs that further education. Yet, some of those programs the Republicans attack. Things like. “Grants to States to Improve Management of Drug and Violence Prevention Programs” and “Grants to Reduce Alcohol Abuse”. How are those bad programs or wasteful spending? What is really their problem?
The real problem that secessionists have with the Department of Education is the conservative viewpoint that God created the Universe and that it is not allowed to be taught in schools. I for one, believe that every individual has a right to believe what he or her wishes. However, the line is drawn when it is brought into the school. Creationism is not a scientific theory, thought, or otherwise it is a belief. Same with Intelligent Design which is fancy lingo for Creationism. While Evolution might be against a person’s belief system it is however in fact… a fact and a reality. While as individuals with personal liberty we can believe what we want, we cannot and should not force or designate that belief on someone else. Despite all the claims to the contrary Evolution is not a belief it is science fact and as such it should be taught in schools. Now I am not going to debate in this post about evolution verse creationism as that is outside the scope but it is one of the reasons why so many secessionists want to get rid of the Department of Education.
The same can be said about the conservative but adhered to by some secessionists about the liberal, gay agenda being forced on their youth. The concept of diversity is something I think everyone at some time or another struggles with in their own life. Yet, conservative and secessionists have to come to accept that gay parents and the children of gay parents exist and have been part of our society for a long time, albeit underground in the past. For a group that claims to adhere to the Constitution the fact that it starts with “We the People” seems to be an abstract concept for them. It does not say, “We the White, God Fearing, Gay hating, liberal Bashing People.” The fact remains that the Department of Education, as one of its goals it to promote understanding of diversity amongst the education system. Secessionists don’t want diversity they want everyone to think and act the same.
10. The Federal Government refuses to control the border.
This one is perhaps the most difficult for me to articulate as I am against illegal immigration. There are pathways to citizenship and legal immigration that is available to all. There are methods for temporary workers to come to the U.S. and gain employment and then return home at the end of their term. Yet, we are still saddled with a semi porous border and the consequences there of. Where I differ from the secessionists and others when it comes to immigration reform is while I agree that anchor babies are a real issue it isn’t as bad as they make it out to be. Furthermore, that splitting families up is an immoral concept till the law is reformed to make it so either the whole family stays or the whole family goes. At present the whole process of immigration and addressing illegal immigration is a hodge podge of conflicting rules and regulations and Congress needs to address this issue as soon as possible. I also don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theory that liberal Democrats are using the lax enforcement of border laws to further their agenda. While I agree that immigration reform is a priority and should be addressed it is by no means a reason to look at secession as an solution.
Overall it is my opinion that secessionists are not only wrong but are wholesale cowards who can’t face reality that their world is changing and by doing so have to change with it. They are stuck with a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution that could have been valid in the 1700’s but it is no longer valid in the 21st century. One of the redeeming features of our Constitution is the ability to adapt and flow with the societal changes that take place in any civilization. To deny which would only invite destruction as involatility does not imply stability. The United States Of America, who so many have laid down their lives to protect are better served by working within the system the Founders of the country laid before us and make the changes that work towards the betterment of America as a whole. To suggest otherwise is not only sedition it borders on treasonous behavior that run contrary to this great nation. In reality the recent election provided a setback to conservatives as a whole but that does not mean that we break up the country, it only means that the conservative should try harder to get their point of view across at the very least or realize their point of view is no longer shared by millions of their fellow citizens and adapt to an ever changing society. Their voices have not been ignored only rejected but that does not mean that will always be the case.