November 1, 2021
We all know what happened the last time secession was tried in this country. The nation was ripped apart, hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, and we are still feeling the effects of it today.
So it may come as a surprise to learn that there is a faction – still small, still not very vocal, but still very real – in this country that wants the red states to secede from the U.S. As a goal, that's probably more accurate than a reprise of the south seceding from the north, since states like Idaho, Wyoming, the Dakotas (and Indiana?) would gleefully join such a movement and they are hardly southern.
Of course no wacky idea emerging from the far right should surprise us anymore.
There is an odd logic to such a plan with a key component of it being shared by many who would never characterize themselves as being on the far right (though such folks could never countenance something as extreme as secession). That component is a belief that the country is irrevocably divided with the causes of that division emanating from a feeling that there is no longer any kind of middle ground of ideas, beliefs, and philosophies that could bring us together again.
Still, we might argue, secession is simply impossible. No one's going to be firing cannons at, say, Washington D.C. (Um ... well...). True enough, but there exists a far more effective weapon that's well within the law: a constitutional amendment. Given that there are over seventy million people who voted to re-elect the Former Occupant of the White House, it's not hard to imagine a goodly, if sufficient, number of people willing to ratify an amendment that would permit a disengagement from our current union. Keep in mind that every single law in this country – from the constitution itself to local laws telling you how high your grass can grow – is always a work in progress and never carved in stone.
Let's assume, then, that the movement for such an amendment got some footing, perhaps even got to the point where it was ratified by the requisite number of states. What would all of this look like?
First, a number of states would exercise their right to disengage from the U.S. What they would be after that is hard to say: Independent polities? Nation states? Countries? Since there would be many within those states who had not supported disengagement, I imagine there would be an outflow of people to the U.S. Would they need passports? Would they be considered refugees?
Also, how would the disengaged states relate to each other? Would they simply regard themselves as unique entities, or would there be a movement to join with other disengaged states and form some sort of unified confederacy? Certainly, some sort of unification would make sense, although then they would have to deal with some sort of centralized government; i.e., the sort of thing they just got done rebelling against.
Within the disengaged states themselves, of course, structural problems would loom large. They would need a currency. They could of course honor the U.S. dollar but any state needs to be able to regulate a currency and they couldn't regulate the dollar. They would need trade agreements not only with the U.S. but also with every country in the world with whom they wished to trade. While it's hard to imagine Texas going to war against China, there would still need to be some sort of defense structure within each independent polity – always a monster expense.
Solving these and so many other problems would be hugely difficult, especially since so many people in the disengaged entities view any infringement (laws, regulations, ordinances, social pressure) upon their personal freedom as anathema. It's essentially the old structure versus anarchy dilemma.
So it would be easy to think that, given the unlikelihood of such an amendment ever passing, along with the horrific difficulties of restructuring that would befall the disengaging states, it's pretty much laughable even to think about it. That would be wrong on two counts.
First, if such a project ever truly got some legs and began sweeping across the country there would be a firestorm of chaos and divisiveness unlike anything we've seen to this point. So, bad idea or not, it's something that ought not to be ignored.
Second, I remember back in 2016 telling my wife that it was ludicrous and laughable to even think that the Former Occupant could possibly be elected president.
I rest my case.
G.K. Wuori ©2021