There is a lot of talk in the news about secession. With the re-election of Obama, there are petitions in all 50 states that are being signed by people who think they would be better off if their individual state were to secede from the union.
As a libertarian, I have a lot of mixed thoughts on the subject right now. Of course, decentralization is usually a good thing for liberty and it is ridiculous to think that 545 people (535 in Congress, 1 president, and 9 Supreme Court justices) should rule over a population of over 300 million people.
It is important to remember that the American Revolution was really a war over secession. The colonies declared independence. They were, in effect, seceding. The British crown did not want this and a war broke out.
I also don’t think it is unconstitutional for a state to secede. But even if that were the case, I wouldn’t care. I never signed the Constitution, nor did anyone else alive today. In fact, most of the American colonists did not sign the Constitution either. If it is supposed to be some kind of a contract, it is a very bad one with no effect. Anyway, it is not like anyone is actually following the Constitution today. It is laughable when some statist tries to use a constitutional argument against secession. Not only are they wrong, but they are extremely hypocritical too.
It would also be ridiculous if secession weren’t allowed by the Constitution. If secession were never a possibility, then you almost have a dictatorship. You are going to trust the federal government to write its own laws, enforce its own laws, interpret its own laws, and determine if its own laws should stand? Without secession, there is essentially no recourse.
With all of that said, there are a few things about this secession movement that bother me. First, I’m not sure how many of these same people would have signed a petition had Romney been elected. Even though the policies of the Republicans and Democrats are nearly the same, all of a sudden many Republicans are giving up on their government with Obama in office. Did they have this same attitude when Bush was in office? So in that regard, I really only agree with the consistent libertarians who signed a petition, not the anybody-but-Obama crowd.
The other thing that bothers me about these petitions is that we are nowhere near ready for this movement. The American colonists of the 1770’s were very well educated on the subject of liberty. Most of them were well-read and understood what was happening. Aside from the issue of slavery, most of the American colonists already believed strongly in liberty before independence was ever declared.
Although the internet has helped a great deal and it will continue to help in the future, Americans are simply not ready for a secession movement. Most do not understand what liberty is. Before libertarians start advocating secession, we have to do the dirty work of educating our fellow citizens. As Downsize DC recently wrote, you can’t put the cart before the horse. You can’t skip steps.
In conclusion, I don’t think this secession movement is going anywhere right now. There are not enough truly liberty-minded people yet. As the libertarian message spreads and Washington DC gets closer to default, then secession may become a real possibility. But we aren’t there yet. We must first continue to spread the message of liberty. At least these petitions to secede are getting more people to think about not needing a federal government.