The Right Opinion

Thoughts on Secession

By William Murchison · Nov. 27, 2012

Muh fellah Amurricans – I reproduce the speech patterns our media correlate with conservative thought – hit looks like we ain’t getting out of this here Union, what with secession not legal, way them educated fellers tell it.

Not legal? Rather a bold statement, I would say. Last time anyone attempted formal withdrawal from the United States, something like 125 years ago, the armaments of the United States blocked the path to independence. The Union endured. But that settled only the practical, not the theoretical, side of the question.

Enough said anyway about the Late Unpleasantness of 1861-65. What about the secession movement – if you care to call it a movement – suddenly drawing so many gasps of horror and indignation, so many hoots at the screwballs whooping it up for flat out withdrawal from the Union, any state that might want to? More than 700,000 signatures on various secession petitions around the nation! Northwards of 100,000 in Texas alone! It’s hard not to notice.

Enlightened opinion on secession is hostile – as you’d certainly expect. Even a conservative Republican like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal calls the clamor “silly.” Behind the web posts and the signing of petitions lies, nevertheless, unarticulated dissatisfaction of the sort that sensible societies ignore at their peril. Timothy Stanley, a modern American history specialist at Oxford University, credits secession talk with “the feeling of a growing number of conservatives who feel emasculated” in the realm of 21st century politics.

This whole business is not my pot of tea, I confess. On the other hand, the would-be secessionists have hold of a principle too much ignored or irritably brushed aside in present-day politics and culture. It is a principle many others would benefit from examining boldly, never mind what the holy hecklers of the media might say.

The principle is that the United States of America took the shape of a plant, nurtured from the ground up, rather than that of a railroad spike, hammered in from the top. First there were states; the country followed. The Philadelphia founders, in 1787, represented states that were trying to strengthen their relationship for the benefit of all. For the Constitution to come into effect, each state had to ratify it. The nature of the constitutional compact made Southerners believe they could abandon it at will.

Who ever heard of a compact you couldn’t quit? Who ever it was, the military power of the North made clear that was how things were going to be. No state was going anywhere, then or later.

The outcome of the war made for a governmentally imposed uniformity the founders could not have foreseen. Local or regional intuitions ceased over time to matter except as obstacles to be pushed aside. Yes – for example – we (set ital) are (end ital) all going to have Obamacare! What works for New York damn well works for Texas, according to current theory. Shut up and get with it!

The get-with-it-ness that liberals see as so fetching when they’re the ones issuing the orders is the factor that repels conservatives who see their liberties eroding in response to a great plan of Betterment and Uplift. New York couldn’t care less what Texas thinks. We’ll do things the New York way, thanks.

Top-down styles of government breed resentment and fury of the sort seen in the secession petitions. These petitions aren’t going anywhere: we all know that. Nobody’s leaving this Union any time soon.

A corollary proposition, given the lay of the land, breeds unease. The words are Jefferson’s from an 1811 letter: “[T]he true barriers of our liberty in this country are our State governments; and the wisest conservative power ever contrived by man, is that which our Revolution and present government found us possessed. Seventeen distinct States, amalgamated into one as to their foreign concerns, but single and independent as to their internal administration … can never be so fascinated by the arts of one man, as to submit voluntarily to his usurpation. Nor can they be constrained to it by any force he can possess.”

Nice while it lasted, huh?



rab in jo,mo said:

It must be remembered, it's not a Union if it must be maintained by force. The States are within their rights to leave the Union (now, as in 1861). This action does not necessarily guarantee a war, it depends upon the reaction of the Federal government.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 8:14 AM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

rab, I have not been able to find the Section of the Constitution that says a Sovereign State can not secede. I am not aware of anyone else who has found that Section. Therefore by the Tenth Amendment a state can secede at will. But, I have the James Madison version of the Constitution so I may be wrong.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 12:59 PM

enemaofthestatistquo in Monroe, GA replied:

I have Ruth Bader Ginsgurg copy of the Constitution, everyword but the prepositions has been redacted.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Enemaotsq, I thought it would be blank except for one sentence at the beginning, "Make it up as you go along." You can always give it to child to use as a coloring book.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 3:31 PM

PDK in Texas said:

As the level of tyranny, poverty and misery climb, so to will the movement to secede. This is exactly the scenario that led our Founding Fathers to secede from King George 3rd, and the British Empire.

White liberals and their allied minorities want to destroy the Republic and replace it with a democracy. This of course is the basic difference between the Republican party and the democrat party.

White liberals, their minority allies and the democrat party are transmogrifying America into a microcosm of their beloved illusion of utopia, the new world, one world order of globalism, socialism and democracy. Experience has proved time and again, this illusion terminates in tyranny, poverty and misery for the masses, the great unwashed.

Our Founding Fathers concieved a Republic, nation-state, promoting liberty, wealth and the pursuit of happiness.

When the liberal nightmare begins to become reality, with it`s necessarily, consequential outcomes, secession will become the new American ambience, breathed deeply by those matured individuals who prefer happiness to misery. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 8:38 AM

Orf in Pittsburgh replied:

Well said PDK.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 10:11 AM

RLS in Oklahoma replied:

I agree with PDK.

My first thought when I heard of the secession petition in Texas was that, if it looked as if it might happen, I was going to hustle back to Texas to assure I became a native citizen. Then I considered the actual possibility.
Who would own how much of the Gulf of Mexico? How would we (Texan nationals) work out free trade agreements with the U.S? Would we be able to allow movement between countries as easily as with Canada? If Texas was not part of the U.S, would Mexico look at the territory as rightfully belonging to them? There are a heck of a lot of Hispanics in Texas.

It’s interesting. For lack of education in history, even within Texas, most people do not know Texas has the right to split into five states – which would give them 5 sets of senators to vote on a particularly critical piece of legislation. I read the Republic of Texas was the only state admitted to the union that can maintain its own armed forces and that is true today. If you see those two movements start to take hold, don’t look for me in Oklahoma any longer. I know where I’d fight. “Emasculated”? I think not.

For all that, I too would encourage thinking people to consider WHY the petitions even happened. It makes me think of a hard-to-find book I recently read named “Negroes with Guns” by Robert F. Williams published in 1962. It describes a people being abused by their countrymen who are not given protection by their country’s law. They were forced to choose between enduring as virtual slaves or taking up arms to protect themselves. Quite a guy, Williams - a black Marine who came home from WWII and wanted to be respected for defending his country – and to see American blacks given equal respect. He said, “I do not advocate violence for its own sake or for reprisal against whites.”

I can imagine a Texas conservative paraphrasing that perspective. What really makes me experience angst about secession movements is when I consider that most people in this country do not believe there are substantial numbers of Americans who would take up arms to stop abuse of freedom. How much of the U.S. knows an Oklahoman can wear a six-shooter openly on his hip? Anyone for required RFID ID cards, GPS tracking of citizens, or government-managed internet text and video monitoring? Government is already doing that to school children ... or is that also an item of general ignorance by the U.S?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

RLS, you can also carry open here in Wyoming as well as concealed. And no permission needed from Big Brother.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 4:07 PM

enemaofthestatistquo in Monroe, GA replied:

The Left can not Rule by Majority, therefore, they have sought to divide and conquer, and largely they have been successful. They have diversified and multi-culturalized the population into theological, hegemonic, ethnic, & ideological sub-grioups of a militant attitude, which they then seek to unite into a Ruling Coalition. But Conservatives, the Free People are still a functioning Majority.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY said:

I feel that the movement is the result of many conservatives being simply being ticked off. We're tired of being called racists, bigots, knuckle-dragging cavemen type by a bunch of "educated" people who feel that if you don't have a series of letters after your name, then you're too ignorant to know what's good for you. That the aforementioned eggheads lack any iota of common sense seems to escape them; that is to say they're too stupid to realize they're stupid.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY replied:

I have no idea how the link appeared...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

Doctor, That's the whole point behind the leftwing liberals. Only those with diplomas from some big eastern university (Columbia, Harvard, Yale, etc.) knows how to run the country. The rest of us are uneducated, unwashed, uncouth, and just downright stupid and have to be taken care of by our benevolent government. The real problem with this concept is those highly educated idiots don't have one ounce of common sense. Common sense would tell them you can't have the takers outnumber the makers and expect that to continue. Their education has really taught them nothing about the real world and those who have to live in it on a daily basis.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY replied:

Agreed. Academia and leftists in general live in a bubble of their own creation. It will be interesting to watch them crumble when reality steps up and b*t**c slaps in the face.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 2:33 PM

MajorStu in Peru, IN said:

Do we really need any more authority than this? The Declaration of Independence was a document of secession from the tyranny of the British Crown.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Patrick in San Francisco said:

Hey, secessionists. Here's something from the Houston Chronicle. Before you continue mouthing off in your self-congratulatory echo chamber, study how much your own community is getting from the federal government.

Texas near the top for raking in federal dollars
BENNETT ROTH, Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau |

WASHINGTON — Texas has long viewed itself as a conservative bastion, but the Lone Star State ranked third in the nation between 2000 and last year in receipt of federal dollars, raking in aid and contracts worth more than $1.2 trillion.

An analysis by a private watchdog group found that state agencies and a number of congressional districts were major beneficiaries of the federal largesse. For example:

• Rep. Ron Paul has long crusaded against a big central government. But the maverick GOP lawmaker and presidential contender also has represented a congressional district that is consistently among the top in Texas in its reliance on dollars from Washington. In the first nine months of the federal government's 2006 fiscal year alone, it received more than $4 billion in federal aid.

• The Texas Transportation Department has lately warned of a budget crunch. Yet the highway-building agency raked in more federal funds than all but three other state agencies around the nation in the first three quarters of the 2006 fiscal year: $2.9 billion

These and other findings are included in a state-by-state breakdown of federal spending by the group OMB Watch.

The analysis provides an insight into where federal dollars are flowing and underscores what Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson calls the "pork-barrel libertarianism" philosophy of many Texans.

"Texans like to think of themselves as the modern-day Marlboro Man," he said, "small government, low taxes and deregulation and 'keep your hands out of our pockets and I will take care of myself.' But they reach out to Washington every time there seems to be federal money available."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

Hey Patrick,

Four things:

1) The citizens of Texas pay around a quarter of a TRILLION dollars per year into the coffers of the federal government, more than any states except New York and California, both of which have larger populations. To the extent that Texas gets federal grants in return they are getting their own money back (or at least some of it).

2) You don't break it down by category, but Texas hosts several military facilities, and I suspect that if you remove defense-related spending (which is one of the few legitimate function of the federal government), the number would decrease significantly.

3) Republican =/= Conservative.

4) Republican =/= Libertarian.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Gary in Oklahoma replied:


There's a simple reason Texas ranks high in various forms of Federal spending - Texas is the second most populous state (~26 million), second only after California (37 million)! New York, Florida, and Illinois come in 3rd, 4th and 5th at 19.5, 19.1, and 12.9 million, respectively. Many forms of Federal expenditure are allocated approximately by population. In the case of transportation funding, expenditures are allocated by fuel tax revenue, so it is not surprising that Texas ranks high.

I haven't examined the numbers in detail, but it would not surprise me if Texas is getting less than it's fair share of Federal spending seeing how Texas is second in population, but third or fourth in Federal expenditures of various types.

Anyway, the fact that there are moochers in Texas (as elsewhere) who suck off the Federal nipple doesn't make it fiscally sustainable policy. There are still plenty of Democrats in Texas, it's just that they can't muster more than 50% of the vote in elections!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 7:49 PM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia replied:

I've started seeing this "red states receive more aid" talking point more and more lately. Turns out it's true, up to a point, but only IF you consider money going to military bases "aid."

I suppose that if those bases housed military members who would defend ONLY that state and not the nation as a whole, one might consider it aid. But as that is not the case, Patrick, your argument is as full of sheepdip as you yourself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Patrick in San Francisco said:

Mac, I've never engaged in sodomy, but it's apparently the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of San Francisco. Not cable cars or the Golden Gate Bridge, but gay sex. If that's what you're looking for, I'm sure we can set you up with somebody without you having to travel to California. Heck, chances are that one of your neighbors could fill the bill. As for your earlier comment, the story came from a TEXAN NEWSPAPER, not Huffington Post.

And Army Officer, the news story said the money was in the form of AID and CONTRACTS. Nothing there about running military bases.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:26 PM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia replied:

One of the first things that comes to my mind about San Francisco is that its citizens repeatedly send Nancy Pelosi to Congress. Why would we listen to ANYONE stupid enough to do that?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Patrick in San Francisco said:

Last year the top ten states for receiving federal dollars were:

1. Florida
2. Louisiana
3. South Carolina
4. Hawaii
5. Virginia
6. Mississippi
7. North Dakota
8. Delaware
9. Texas
10. Maryland

You can go to CNBC's we bite to see the per capita amounts for each state. Of the 10 above, five voted for Romney and five voted for Obama.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 5:42 PM

richard ryan in Lamar,Missouri replied:

Patrick, ya kinda make me think of a quote from one of the readers above: "You`re too stupid to realize you`re" stupid.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 7:01 PM

RudyT in Pittsburgh, PA replied:

What exactly is "federal money"?

There seems to be in implication that if a state receives a portion of the federal taxes levied apon it's citizenry, it's somehow a gift from Washington DC.

Keep the money local and your argument is nullified.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 10:45 PM

M Rick Timms MD in Georgia said:

I'll take the deal! No more Federal taxes, no more federal money. That includes Medicare. The pitiful re-reimbursement they give to physicians for Medicare services is not worth the malpractice risk. That's why many us will be giving it up when the next doctor squeeze comes along. The only reason we continue to see folks is because it is in our nature to do so, to help folks. But it is no longer sustainable.
Image a country of hard working folks, building and providing the things people need to live free and prosper, and taking care of those who would but cannot. I remember that country, but it is fading fast.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Patrick in San Francisco said:

I don't have anything personal against you conservatives. You can't help it! Your parents thought the best way to teach you to swim was to toss you into the deep end of the pool and then turn their backs, and you were never quite right in the head after swallowing so much water and going for so, so long without oxygen before some liberal finally fished you out of the water and gave you mouth-to-mouth. The experience caused permanent damage, and one result was that you convinced yourselves that if you believed in something strongly enough despite basic math and science, your opinion just HAD to be true. Thus you could double the national debt under Reagan and yet firmly believe that your children or grandchildren could eventually balance the budget if you just kept the faith. And you could vastly cut revenue but vastly increase spending under George W. Bush because you firmly believed that by doing so you would once and for all eliminate the Weapons of Mass Destruction that George W. and Condi RIce and Rumsfeld and all the others stated as a FACT were hidden out there somewhere in the desert. And when a Democrat suggests we raise revenue to PAY-AS-WE-GO, you confidently say, Nah, that isn't necessary because the ultra-rich people who put us in this situation will eventually hire some of the rest of us to minimum-wage jobs and get the economy rolling again. You keep kicking the can down the road for your children and grandchildren to pay the bill because you think that's the American Way. Like I said, you can't help it because something in your heads ain't quite right. But don't worry -- your condition can be medically treated. And thanks to Obamacare, you won't lose your home and your savings getting your condition under control.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 1:29 PM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia replied:

"And you could vastly cut revenue but vastly increase spending under George W. Bush..."

Check your facts, Patrick. Revenue INCREASED following the tax rate reductions in 2001 and 2003. Of course, that was to be expected, since the same thing happened when Reagan did it, and when Kennedy did it, and when Coolidge did it.

That's why, despite the unforgivable spending increases under the Republican Congress, the annual deficit fell for five straight years, until the Democrats took over Congress in 2007, and more than doubled it, and more than doubling it again under obama.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Patrick in San Francisco replied:

As you say, check your facts. Go to the U.S. Treasury Department's Web site and look at the percentage of increase in the national debt under Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, W., and Obama. You'll find that the Democrats pay down debt while the Republicans radically increase it. If you'd like a single page with quick summaries, use this link:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 7:08 PM

M Rick Timms MD in Georgia replied:

Your missing the point. Tax cuts produce increased revenues into the treasury every time due to expansion of the economy. But every time, the Democrat controlled congress has reneged on promised spending cuts and outspent the increases in Revenue that the tax cuts produce. You cannot simply look at the deficit number - you must account for the spending in excess of increased revenue. And do not forget that Clinton reduced debt by simply (and at great risk) transferring national dent from long to short term loans.

You cannot simply look at the White House -- you have to consider that "all money bills originate in the House, and Congress holds the purse strings" to assess economic policy. By the way -- how long has it been since the Senate (D) put forth a budget as required by law. Yet the folks re-elected them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:42 PM

M Rick Timms MD in Georgia replied:

The place was full of WMD's and precursors. The UN conveniently defined WMD so narrowly as to exclude everything short of a ticking nuclear bomb, or a binary chemical weapon in the process of combining components. Do not be a fool, we were played by the UN. Read this and wonder why that video was never seen again. I saw it live on CNN and then it vanished.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 8:48 PM