Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Federate... or separate?

Glenn Reynolds points out a root cause of the recent popular cries of "secession:"
...people also talk about secession for more serious reasons. They feel that the central government doesn't respect them, forces them to live under laws they find repugnant and takes their money away to pay off its own supporters. You see secession movements based on these principles in places like Scotland, Catalonia, Northern Italy, and elsewhere around the world. Some might succeed; others are less likely to. But in every case they represent unhappiness with the status quo. general, the causes of secession are pretty standard around the world: Too much power in the central government, too much resentment in the unhappy provinces. (Think Hunger Games).

So what's a solution? Let the central government do the things that only central governments can do -- national defense, regulation of trade to keep the provinces from engaging in economic warfare with one another, protection of basic civil rights -- and then let the provinces go their own way in most other issues. Don't like the way things are run where you are? Move to a province that's more to your taste.
The prescription--true federalism--is appropriate, and as Reynolds points out it's really a reversion to how things were meant to be under our system.  The crucial question, however, is whether Americans can (or even want to) force power to flow back from the District of Corruption to the States.  That's no small quibble.  There are plenty of interests who want power to remain centralized--and too many individual Americans who've grown used to Uncle Sugar dispensing favors.  If those who still want to live independently decide they are hopelessly outvoiced by their increasingly covetous neighbors, separation may well become their only option.  At that point, the question becomes whether we are still wise enough to do so peaceably (see: Czechoslovakia), or not (see: U.S., 1861-1865).
"A nation preserved with liberty trampled underfoot is much worse than a nation in fragments but with the spirit of liberty still alive.  Southerners persistently claim that their rebellion is for the purpose of preserving this form of government."
-- Private John H. Haley, 17th Maine Regiment, USA

No comments:

Site Meter