Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Secession - the Last Refuge of the Disenfranchised

The world is not a black-and-white place. About the time you think you have a good rule of thumb about something, some pesky exception pops up to ruin the thing. This is true of many things in life, both large and small.

An obvious example is killing. We all know that it is illegal - not to mention immoral - to kill one of our fellow citizens for reasons of malicious self-interest. Then again, to kill someone in an act of asserting the ultimate self-interest - the preservation of our own life - is acceptable. It is so acceptable, in fact, that we even have a name for it - self-defense. Self defense is a universally recognized exception to the general rule that "you can't just go and kill somebody".

I find it oddly interesting, then, that people should be so outraged by the assertion that a collection of individuals, in the interest of promoting their ability to live freely, have the inalienable right to secede from the union of States. What could possibly be the source of the objection?

After Texas Governor Rick Perry hinted that Texas might begin to consider the ramifications of such a move, he was labeled an "extremist" (an Obama culture word that is destined to be the new word for "terrorist"), a "nut job"...I won't even mention the words used on the left-wing commie blogs - they're definitely not fit for my site. I admit that the notion of secession seems a bit old-fashioned. We generally associate the term with the effort of the southern States to separate from a nation they felt no longer served their best interests. I won't go into the history of that decision, but suffice it to say, I find ample evidence in the writings of that era (The Declaration of Independence, The U.S. Constitution, and The Federalist Papers, just to name a few) that they were asserting a right that was clearly understood to be theirs.

What the Southerners understood, and what we have forgotten, is a critical element of how our government is structured, and is deserving of our review - namely, that proper governmental power flows from the consent of those governed by that power. The very name of our country - The United States...- pays homage to the fact that we are to be a collection of self-governing powers who are united by common purpose.

A pro-government person might remark that we live in a democracy where the right to vote guarantees our freedom from tyranny, and makes the notion of secession silly and unnecessary. I would strongly disagree on all counts. Firstly, we do not live in a democracy. We live in a Constitutional Federal Republic. There is a difference. The same tedious form of government that many find irritating with its little quirks of houses, branches, electoral college, etc., is the same one that protects us from a very real threat which is being played out today - the tyranny of the majority.

Secondly, the right to vote simply gives more power to the majority. The original design of our government was to limit the powers of government so that the majority couldn't simply impose their will on less numerous members of society. This has broken down as government has become increasingly intrusive and powerful.

Just because a majority of people want something doesn't make it right. People want all sorts of things they don't have a right to. Lately, the vast majority of people want to steal money from the bank accounts of people that make more money than they do. It is a fact of life that there will always be people in a free society that make two or three times what you do. There won't be very many - and conversely, there will be vast numbers of people who want what they have. If the tyranny of the majority is allowed to play out, then the majority will simply take what they want by mob rule. It is absolutely no different than a group of vigilantes armed with torches and clubs attacking the biggest house in town and robbing and vandalizing it.

What we are now seeing is the result of this mob rule. Those who pay no taxes are being given money that belongs to someone else. The fact that this is facilitated by their representatives doesn't lend credibility to it. It is still wrong. This feeling of being unfairly punished by the mob is what leads to this secession talk. There are now so many people that feel that their government is of, by, and for someone else, that whole segments of the country find it politically acceptable to speak of secession openly. The response? To label them as "right wing extremists", to villify them as racists, to increase scrutiny on them as potential threats to the stability of our country. This has all happened before, sadly.

Why does a government that is supposed to be working for our benefit fear the notion of secession if it is not a tyrannical power? For the same reason criminals fear the right to bear arms - they fear the self-defense exception.