Secession, States Rights, and Constitutional Conservatives

Since the election last week, there has been a lot of handwringing among conservatives. Many believe that the United States has descended into a new phase of dependency, where too many citizens and crony corporatists are wedded to DC largesse. Some think this and the cultural decline is irreversible, that America is headed for the abyss.

So how do they react to what they perceive as the “new normal”? Increasing numbers of news reports suggest that at least a few disgruntled Americans see the dissolution of the United States as a viable option. The word “secession” is cropping up in the blogosphere like never before.

Consistent with this, most Restoring Liberty readers have likely seen at least one or two articles on the White House citizen petitions relating to secession. You may have also seen Ron Paul’s recent comments on the subject. Even Justice Scalia has weighed in on the topic.

Given the history of the Alaska Independence Party (we actually had a governor elected from the AIP ticket), you probably won’t be surprised to hear that Alaska hasn’t been immune to this. Several days ago, there was an attempt to pull me directly into a resurgent secessionist debate in Alaska. Emails began to circulate including one suggesting that “the only alternative for the survival of any form of government that was intended by our founding fathers is secession from the union and a declaration of independence of Alaska.”

I fundamentally disagree with this approach. As I noted last week in my post-election breakdown, our country still has hope.

Admittedly, we have widely divergent views on the role and scope of government. I am equally certain that we are becoming increasingly divided on many cultural issues.

These divides were reflected by the startling 40% swing between a number of states in votes for Romney as opposed to Obama (e.g., Utah 73% Romney, Hawaii 70% Obama, Wyoming 69% Romney, Vermont 67% Obama, etc.). Some believe this degree of polarization hasn’t been seen since the Civil War.

Many of our differences seem insurmountable.

But within the context of the state’s rights model – directly patterned off of what the Founders originally intended – these intractable differences can reside quite well together, albeit in different states.

The Founders intended that the states retain a great deal of autonomy. The central government was severely limited, granted only those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

By legal malfeasance, we’ve now ginned up a myriad of powers that the drafters never intended the Constitution to confer upon our national government. That has straight-jacketed the states into a homogenous mass of laws and regulations that were never intended. Rather, the states were intended to be the ultimate legal arbiter in most areas.

As we continue to spend trillions we don’t have, DC will inevitably lose financial power. The country will inevitably face serious economic pain. And the nation will inevitably look for solutions from outside of the narrow parameters set and enforced by the Establishment.

The solution of getting back to an honest interpretation and application of the Constitution with respect to the respective powers of the federal and state governments will allow our increasingly diverse peoples in this country to apply their expectations of government at the state level.

Liberals, conservatives, libertarians, socialists, the religious, and the secularists can all embrace this approach. Fight your fights in the state of your choice. Set your own education policy. Establish your own regulatory schemes. Permit natural resource extraction as you see fit, all without interference from the feds. Abandon the sinking ship of DC dominance.

So if you are an advocate for secession, please reconsider and redirect your energies toward a real solution that will restore liberty and can accommodate the “new normal” of the United States.