Sunday, January 16, 2005

The reds from the blues

The differences between conservatives and liberals in the U.S. are so great that it occurs to me to recommend secession.

Our differences are so fundamental that compromise is rarely an option. Those who want to protect a woman's right to choose for herself will not compromise with those who want to protect unborn babies from being murdered. And vice versa. Those who want to keep church and state separate will not compromise with those who want to keep this one nation under God. And vice versa. Fundamental differences, the kind over which people go to war.

So...what if the blue states seceded from the red states?

Instantly, we get the reply "But it's one nation under God, indivisible!" Okay, but the Pledge of Allegiance isn't in the Constitution. I found an interesting discussion of secession on a website titled The War for States' Rights. The discussion is on this page, but I'll quote it here because it's so eye-opening that I don't want it to be overlooked.

Nowhere in the Constitution is there any mention of the union of the states being permanent. This was not an oversight by any means. Indeed, when New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia ratified the Constitution, they specifically stated that they reserved the right to resume the governmental powers granted to the United States. Their claim to the right of secession was understood and agreed to by the other ratifiers, including George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention and was also a delegate from Virginia. In his book Life of Webster Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge writes, "It is safe to say that there was not a man in the country, from Washington and Hamilton to Clinton and Mason, who did not regard the new system as an experiment from which each and every State had a right to peaceably withdraw." A textbook used at West Point before the Civil War, A View of the Constitution, written by Judge William Rawle, states, "The secession of a State depends on the will of the people of such a State."
However, an article on Slate discusses the focus on the Constitution in the senate debate in 1830 between Webster and Hayne:

Was it merely a treaty among the many states? Or was it the founding document of a singular country, a compact of the "people" cited in its opening clause? This legal argument, among other things, eventually begat the Civil War, and since it ended, scholars have agreed that the Constitution grants no right of secession.
In the current sociological climate, it's unfortunate that there's no room to approach even the discussion of secession. It's like locking Israelis and Palestinians in a single nation with no possibility of becoming separate nations which respect each other. And if this simile seems a little extreme, try pushing harder for compromise between the red states and the blue states. What you'll get won't be purple, but a hot yellow-white as tension rises. The red states are more than willing to go to war to keep this one nation under God.

Since the Constitution itself does not specifically prohibit secession, it may be time to reexamine our interpretation of the Constitution which doesn't allow for it. That interpretation predates the Civil War. We've learned much since then.

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