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Sunday, November 25, 2012


Secession? In 2004, after President Bush won 51% of the vote, a small number of disgruntled progressives gave some fleeting thought to seceding from the Union, perhaps to join Canada.

In 2012, after President Obama won 51% of the vote, a few on the right are thinking the same thing. Voice of America reports:

At the time of liberal secession rumbles, Michael C. Dorf wrote that "it is settled law that the Constitution does not permit unilateral secession: A state or group of states cannot simply leave the Union over the objections of the national government. However, the arguments that led to this settled understanding are hardly unassailable, and the Constitution is probably best read as permitting the mutually agreed upon departure of one or more states."

Polls show that most oppose the secession of their own states, and those who say that support it are probably just venting their unhappiness with the central government. At USA Today, law professor Glenn Reynolds writes:
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. Meanwhile, approaches that work in individual provinces can, after some experimentation, be adopted by the central government, thus lowering the risk of adopting untested policies at the national level. You get the benefits of secession without seceding.
Sound good? It should. It's called federalism, and it's the approach chosen by the United States when it adopted the Constitution in 1789. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."
It's a nice plan. Beats secession. Maybe we should give it another try