The Case Against Secession

I can understand the angst of many Americans after the last elections. There is the growing sensation that government is not responsive anymore to the needs and desires of countless citizens in the vast red-state heartland.

Many want out and see secession from the Union as a way to leave the problem behind. Others simply want to register their protest and as a knee jerk reaction signed one of the numerous petitions asking for secession. All this is understandable – although if one’s problem with the government has reached the point of asking for secession, the last place I would want my name is on a petition lodged on the databases of the White House’s computers.

While I can understand the frustration, I take issue with secession for several reasons. The first is because I do not think it will resolve the problem. I am only too willing to admit that the federal government inside the beltway leaves much to be desired. However, our federal legislators come from the states. The main problem lies with the insufficiency of our whole political class and it extends across state lines. The dearth of leadership we experience is universal. I do not see any guarantees that the problems that are the cause of so much frustration on the federal level will not repeat themselves on the state level. Exchanging one set of federal unresponsive leaders for a set of similar state leaders hardly seems a solution.

The second reason is the fact that our American states are not nations. Any declaration of secession would be artificial. A nation like ours is not a corporate conglomerate that can spin off companies at will. A nation is formed organically when a collection of social units coalesces into a clearly distinctive whole. It forms an ethnic, cultural, social, economic, and political unity unable to be included or federated into any other one. Our American states do not yet form such unities since they are so intertwined culturally, economically and politically as to render this division extremely difficult.

Moreover, the duties of a nation are to safeguard the common good, provide for the common defense and foster the general prosperity. While I admire the courage of the Pennsylvania National Guard in the state where I live, I do not confide in their limited abilities to safeguard me against nuclear attack, global threats… or more powerful neighboring states. There are a number of duties that belong to the nation alone that our states are unprepared to assume. Nor do I see state leaderships with the moral courage to form new nations and inspire virtuous life in common.

The final reason I am against secession is that I do not identify with a state as I do with the nation. As a native Kansan, I have deep roots in the Midwest. However, like so many Americans I have lived in numerous states yet have no special link with any of them. While I have a great esteem for my present state of residence and also my state of birth, it is not the same as that for my country. Try as I might, I cannot awaken in my soul the same patriotic sentiments for Pennsylvania that I feel for America.

Like it or not (and I like it), we are Americans and we identify with America because it is our native land with a common history and culture. I have always been proud to be an American. For me, the American flag means something. And I would be willing to sacrifice myself for this nation that I love, have always loved, and which God has so blessed.

I realize that there are those with an agenda that are destroying my country. But my reaction should not be to abandon my country in its time of need but to come to its aid. It should be an attitude of “love it, don’t leave it.”

The real solution is to identify and address the problems. What we need now are unifying principles that will bring us back together and help us weather the crisis that looms upon the horizon. We need a return to order that will allow us to find organic, not artificial, solutions to the very real problems that plague us. This is an important theme of my book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society – Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here and Where We Need to Go.

If we have problems, then let us, as in time past, solve these problems not by running from them but by facing them. Let each state contribute its part, but let us face this crisis together like proud Americans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.drozda Cheryl Drozda

    Thank you for this glimpse of wisdom – I can’t wait to get your new book! (I’ve already pre-ordered, “Return to Order”).  As a Louisiana resident, I have to admit that I was tempted to sign the petition for seceding (I believe LA was the first state to begin the petitioning).  I was getting ready for Mass when I heard about it and did not want to act impulsively, so I did not sign it.  I then began to consider the outcome and what the future of this would look like – I did not really see that there was a vision in seceding.  I was so pleased to see this posting, because it (the secession) was still lingering in my mind.  I am truly excited about reading your ideas on restoring order, because I currently tend toward despair when looking at our national situation.

    • RaymondDrake

      Cheryl,
      regrettably there is much confusion on secession among conservatives.

      Many
      confuse a theoretical natural law right to secede from a political union so as
      to form a new, independent nation—a right exercised by the Thirteen Colonies on
      July 4, 1776—with a legal right to do so grounded in positive law. There was no
      legal right for American Independence under British Law in 1776, just as there
      is none, under our Constitution, that authorizes secession today. This is why
      we had war at our nation’s founding and again among the States 150 years ago.

      I
      wonder if secession advocates have pondered carefully this war dimension and everything
      else that secession entails.

      I
      qualify the natural law right to form a new independent political union as
      “theoretical” not because it isn’t real, but because it presupposes
      certain conditions for its exercise. These conditions are what distinguish a
      people’s legitimate struggle for political self-determination, from common
      sedition, insurrection, revolt, insurgency, and all-out anarchy.

      Another
      consideration: Who benefits from the United States fragmenting into
      multiple political units? Not the American people, in my view. Only our enemies:
      The Islamists who attacked us on 9/11; the Communists in Russia, China, Venezuela,
      North Korea, Cuba, etc. for whom we still represent the last bulwark of
      Christian order and the rule of law—despite our myriad shortcomings and
      collective sins.  How can any freedom-loving
      American desire such an outcome?

      I
      fully agree with Mr. Horvat’s analysis in The
      Case Against Secession, that we have serious problems in America today and
      that we must work together to resolve them. Secession is no solution. It just
      compounds our problems, moving us from the frying pan into the fire.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.ritchie.16752 Robert Ritchie

    It seems those who favor seession are not thinking deeply.  They do not trace the moral process of decadence back to the root causes of the problems we have now.  With the lack of an undertsanding of the root causes of our problems, many are led to suggest superficial responses, such as secession, as a solution.

  • http://twitter.com/thebullionbull Bill the Bull

    I agree that DC is the symptom not the source of many problems, but the option of secession must at least be left on the table in theory or else the Constitution is a suicide pact where states agree to stick things out with the Feds no matter what, which violates common sense.  If the federal government instituted a one child policy like China, I would be ready for my state to leave ASAP. 

  • http://twitter.com/thebullionbull Bill the Bull

    Also we must consider that just because our legislators come from the states, there is indeed now a permenant central bureacracy running many facets of the federal government that is not elected and was unforseen in the original Constitutional framework.  These career DC officials make almost as many decisions that affect our lives as the Congress.  Look at Fannie Mae for instance – they hold the majority of the nations’ home mortgages – talk about power!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Ritchie/502235138 John Ritchie

    Divide and conquer is a classic way to dismantle anything.  At this point of great division and polarization within America, we need to find ways to unite around values that really matter; values that will give us the ability to face the crisis and restore what we’ve lost.  I’m hopeful and prayerful that the broader vision presented in Return to Order will substantially help in this regard.