To my mind, there are still grave problems with Jeffersonian’s scenario. For example, it is really conceivable that the seceding new country and the rump United States would, as he predicts, peacefully divide up the U.S. armed forces, including nuclear weapons? However, as I said about the earlier version of the article, the possibility that secession may become necessary can no longer be dismissed, and the discussion has to start somewhere.
THE REDS AND THE BLUES: IT’S TIME FOR A DIVORCE
1) The problem facing us
In the aftermath of the presidential election of 2000, a map of the United States was published in which the counties that had voted for Bush were colored red and the counties that had voted for Gore were colored blue. The result was striking: the “Blue counties” made up only a small fraction of the area of the United States, but they included roughly half of the total population. Outside of the Northeast, the map consisted mostly of a large expanse of red, interrupted by geographically small—but densely populated—urban areas. Note that although the original map showed the United States divided into red and blue counties, it has given rise to the terms “Red states” and “Blue states.”
In what follows, I shall often refer to the Bush voters or sympathizers as Reds (although you may prefer to think of them as Republicans or conservatives) and to the Gore voters or sympathizers as Blues (although you may prefer to think of them as Democrats or liberals). Note that the word “Red” in this context has no implication of communist sympathies.
In recent weeks there has been a furor over the health care bill that was pushed through by the Obama administration. This is partly because its opponents feel it is an extremely bad bill: one which will not improve their health care, but instead will add enormously to the public debt. Even more disturbing than the contents of the bill, however, is the fact that it was passed despite the clear opposition of the American people. Every national poll for months had shown that the public did not like the bill; and in the weeks preceding the vote Congress had been besieged by letters, emails, faxes, and telephone calls from constituents, with the great majority opposing the bill.
Those who urged congressmen to vote for the bill did not pretend that the majority of the public was on their side; rather, they urged congressmen to be “courageous” and ignore public opinion. They claimed (correctly) that for Congress to blatantly ignore public opinion did not violate the Constitution. However, it did violate our traditions on the relation of the government to the governed. This is the first time in American history that a major bill has been forced through over the clear opposition of the public. Even if the law itself is beneficial, the manner of its passage was semi-tyrannical, and as a result the social fabric has been badly torn.
Many people believe that the passage of the health care bill will result in the Democrats losing seats in the Congressional elections this fall. That may happen; but even if opponents of the bill gain a clear majority in the House of Representatives, they will still not be able to repeal the bill. To do that would require large gains in the Senate (both this year and in 2012) as well as a GOP victory in the 2012 presidential election.
However, even if repeal occurs, it will not be enough. Repeal of the health care bill is highly desirable, but it will not avert the deeper dangers facing us. The “Blues” will continue their attempts to force their leftist programs on us; and, given the demographic factors (immigration and natural growth), they will eventually succeed and transform the country totally. The ideological gulf between the Blues and the Reds is simply too great, and the Blues are too intolerant and unwilling to compromise, for the type of society we desire to survive.
What sort of society are the Blues aiming for? Obviously, they do not all hold identical political views. By and large, however, most of them want the United States to become more like the “socialist” countries of Western Europe such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Holland.
- Most Blues strongly favor significant redistribution of wealth, partly by a steeply progressive income tax, and partly by other means.
- Most of them are internationalists and multiculturalists.
- Most of them are opposed to deporting (or removing by attrition) the millions of illegal immigrants now in the United States, and indeed wish to continue large-scale immigration of non-Europeans into the United States.
- Despite paying lip-service to the idea of constitutional government, the Blues never let the Constitution get in the way of policies they favor, but instead constantly interpret it to mean whatever they wish. Of numerous possible examples, here are four:
(a) Most of them strongly approve of the decision by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, a decision that overturned all existing state laws on abortion. (While one might believe that such laws were ill-advised, there is certainly nothing in the Constitution that prohibits them.)
(b) Perhaps even more extreme was the decision in Wickard v. Filburn (1942). Filburn was a farmer who had been fined by the government for planting too much grain on his land, thereby violating a federal law which had been passed under the auspices of the interstate commerce clause. Filburn pointed out that he had not sold the grain, but rather had used it himself, and that therefore his activity was not “interstate commerce.” The court ruled against him, on the grounds that his non-commercial use of his own grain on his own farm “affected” interstate commerce, and therefore came under Congress’ power to regular interstate commerce! By so greatly expanding the reach of the interstate commerce clause, the decision almost eliminated the restrictions placed on the powers of the federal government by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.
(c) Most Blues seemed quite ready to push Obama’s health care bill through by a vote “deeming” the Senate bill had passed without the House of Representatives ever taking a direct vote on the bill. (Faced with public outrage, the House leaders eventually backed down on this procedure, but not because they had any constitutional scruples concerning it.)
(d) The majority of Blues approve of the federal and state governments mandating racial quotas and preferences, even though such laws clearly violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
- Despite their claims of being opposed to racism (often expressed very sanctimoniously), the majority of Blues are, by our standards, blatant racists. That is, they strongly favor laws and policies—such as racial preferences and quotas—that deprive some persons of jobs, promotions, college admissions, and scholarships just because of their race. These preferences and quotas were first instituted in the mid-1960s and have gradually become more and more pervasive.
- Despite paying lip service to the notion of freedom of speech, in practice many of the Blues often favor censorship laws of various sorts, such as laws banning “hate speech,” and repressive “speech codes” on college campuses. These speech codes—usually adopted by a vote of the faculty (typically a very “liberal” group)—provide a clear indication of the way most Blues view the right of free speech and what is in store for us if they triumph.
We don’t want to live in a country dominated by such people, and we don’t want to bequeath such a government to our children. For that matter, the Blues don’t much like us either. Many of them consider us to be racists, religious fanatics, stupid, heartless, and corrupt. It is therefore time for a divorce. Just as a husband and wife with irreconcilable differences are often better off divorcing, so the Reds and the Blues would be far better off if we split into two separate countries.
2) The solution: partition the United States into two countries
If the United States were to be divided into two independent countries—one consisting of the counties that voted for Bush in 2000 and the other consisting of the counties that voted for Gore—then most of the Bush voters would wind up in the “Red country” and most of the Gore voters will wind up in the “Blue country.”
One might question whether such a radical procedure is necessary. Could we not achieve our goals merely by convincing more people of the virtues of our policies and then winning some elections? No, such a plan might sound good in theory, but it is bound to fail in the long run because of demographic factors.
The central problem is that the ranks of the Blues are constantly being augmented by the mass immigration of non-Europeans. California and Illinois used to be swing states; but, as a result of immigration, Illinois is now a Blue state and California is a Democratic stronghold. Florida and Texas will follow within thirty years unless the flood of immigrants is halted. Even if immigration is halted, an amnesty for the illegal immigrants already here (a law strongly supported by the Democratic Party, and by many Republican leaders as well) will create an electorate in which the Republicans have little chance of winning. Even without amnesty, the children of today’s illegal aliens will become voting citizens within fifteen or twenty years, with almost the same effect.
Indeed, even in the best-case scenario, in which we obtain a moratorium on immigration, and in addition manage to deport the majority of the illegal immigrants, differential birth rates will still be fatal to us within a few decades. The “Anglo” population (the majority of which are Reds) is not having enough children to reproduce itself, whereas the Hispanic population (most of whom are Blues) has a much higher birthrate and its numbers are increasing rapidly.
Actually, the best-case scenario seems improbable. It is unlikely that we will soon adopt a moratorium on immigration. Nor does it seem likely that most of the illegal immigrants here today will be deported: the chances are that most of them will eventually be amnestied. In the course of the next few decades, the political position of the Reds will become hopeless. If we wish our descendants to live in a free country we must secede before that occurs.
3) Will they let us secede?
At this point, even before presenting the details of the secession plan, it may be best to reply to the most common objection to it which, roughly stated, is: “The whole idea is hopelessly impracticable because the United States government will never permit us to leave. Liberals are far too fanatic, far too authoritarian, and far too convinced that their policies are the only just policies to ever let us secede and implement our “unjust” policies in a separate country.”
Well, some of their spokesmen certainly sound that way; but in truth most of the individuals who vote Democratic are neither totalitarian nor fanatic. People like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reed, and Keith Olbermann are not typical of the Democratic voters. Many of the people who voted for Obama sincerely believed that he represented racial reconciliation and just wanted to show that they were not racists. Many who supported Obama’s health reform bill did not do so because they are hard-line leftists, but simply because they are soft-hearted and like the idea of everyone receiving low-cost health insurance. Others support Roe v. Wade not because they like the idea of an intrusive federal government, but merely because they feel that the opponents of abortion are trying to force their way on everyone. Others who voted Democratic were responding to a feeling that Republican leaders have been corrupt and incompetent. For the most part, Democratic voters are not would-be Lenins or Stalins, but are honorable, peace-loving people who are in general willing to live and let live.
Furthermore, most Democratic voters have a pacifistic outlook and are generally unwilling to fight long, bloody wars. (Most liberal Democrats opposed the Vietnam War, and most of them opposed both of the wars in Iraq as well.) When conflicts arise, their instinctive reaction is to try to negotiate a peaceful compromise. Typical slogans are: “There never was a good war or a bad peace,” “Jaw, jaw is better than war, war,” “Arms are for hugging,” and “Give peace a chance.”
It is claimed that the crushing of the South’s attempt to secede in the 1860s proves that such attempts must be futile. But the Southern secession would probably have been successful, had it not been opposed by as resolute and talented a leader as Abraham Lincoln. Furthermore, even though most Northerners wished to preserve the Union, Lincoln had a hard time sustaining public support for the war. Such support was strengthened in many minds (though weakened in others) by the prospect of ending slavery, a war aim which came to the fore with the Emancipation Proclamation, almost half way through the war. (And note that even Lincoln—as resolute an advocate of preserving the Union at all costs as any we are likely to face—delayed using force until the South made the foolish mistake of firing on Fort Sumter.)
Finally, if despite our attempts to avoid war it does come to actual fighting, the Blue country will be weaker and unlikely to prevail. Consider the advantages that the Red country would have:
While in principle the Blue armies might invade the Red country, such a campaign will face serious problems in practice. Many of their soldiers will be reluctant to kill people who look like themselves and who mean them no harm. Do you think a general in the Blue army will order a unit to start shelling or bombing a city in the Red territory? And if he does so, will the unit commanders follow his orders, and will the troops under them obey?
- Its territory is far larger.
- It contains most of the mineral resources of the combined countries.
- It generates most of the electric power.
- It is self-sufficient in food, whereas the Blue country (and particularly the large metropolitan areas that contain a large part of its population) is not self-sufficient in food.
- More of our citizens are armed.
- The Red forces will have much higher morale, because they will be fighting to defend their liberties and their independence, whereas the liberty and independence of the Blues are not threatened by simply letting the Red regions leave in peace.
- Although the armed forces of the Blue country may be larger as first, they will constantly be plagued with defections, since most members of the armed forces are conservatives, and likely to sympathize with the Reds.
A bit of recent history might be instructive. In December, 1989 there were large demonstrations in Timisoara against the Communist leader of Romania, Nicolae Ceaucescu, and he tried to suppress the uprising by force. For the most part, however, the Romanian soldiers refused to fire on the unarmed demonstrators, and the rebellion succeeded. The total loss of life was probably less than 1,000.
It has been asserted that the leaders of the Blue country will feel that they have to control the Red country for economic reasons, namely that the Red country contains the food and mineral resources that the Blue country needs. However, it will be obvious that they can obtain those goods by peaceful trade, as they do right now.
Finally, it is sometimes claimed that the American government will feel that it cannot permit any Red state or county to secede, since if a single such secession might result in the entire country falling apart. Again, an example from recent history might be instructive.
Lithuania had been an independent country between the two world wars, but it was swallowed up by the USSR in the early 1940s and organized as the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, in effect making it a province in the Soviet empire. In the late 1980s, a movement to regain national independence gained strength. Elections were held in early 1990, and in March 1990 the Lithuanian legislature took the bold step of voting to secede from the Soviet Union. Political analysts in the West unanimously predicted that the Soviet government would never permit Lithuania to secede. “The Soviet government is a dictatorship,” they said, “and is unpopular in many parts of the Soviet Union. The rulers know that if they permit Lithuania to secede, then other provinces will be emboldened, and the Soviet empire might fall apart. Since the communist regime in control of the USSR has always been willing to act brutally to suppress any threat to its rule, there is no possibility that it will permit Lithuania to secede.”
The reasoning seemed impeccable, but that was not the way things actually worked out. The USSR first tried an economic blockade of Lithuania. That did not bring Lithuania to heel. So in January 1991 they tried a military crackdown. That resulted in 14 Lithuanians being killed and about 700 injured; however, the Lithuanians still refused to back down. Perhaps fearful of world opinion, the Soviet government abandoned their attempt to crush the rebellion by force, and in August 1991 it recognized Lithuanian independence. It is worth remarking that Russia had 40 times the population of Lithuania, and even larger advantages in territory, troops, and military equipment, and that Russia had not suffered any military casualties in the fighting.
Does this prove that the secession of the Red states and counties is bound to secede, and that there will be almost no casualties? No, certainly not. All it shows is that we cannot dismiss the possibility of secession as an impractical idea that is sure to fail.
4) How will partition work: some details of the proposal
Since the two countries will be independent nations, each will have its own constitution. As the Blue country will simply be a continuation of the present United States of America with a reduced territory, it need not do anything in order to retain its present constitution.
The Red country, however, being a new country, will have to adopt a constitution. Therefore, it will need to hold a constitutional convention at an early stage. I would expect that the constitution that will be adopted will strongly resemble the present constitution of the United States of America, and will provide for:
- A federal republic, with powers divided between the central government and the states;
- A division of powers among the legislature, the executive, and the courts.
- A “Bill of rights” to protect the civil liberties of individuals.
- A procedure for amending the constitution.
Since the Red and Blue countries will be independent nations, each will have its own president, its own legislature, its own court system, and its own set of laws. (Provisionally, of course, the laws of the United States of America at the time of separation will remain in force in the Red country until superseded by laws duly passed by the new government of that country.) The Red country will arrange for its own flag, its own uniforms, its own diplomats, and its own currency.
In general, each person will be a citizen of the country in which he resides. However, provisions must be made for ideological Reds living in the Blue country at the time of the split. Three options will be available for each such person:
The same set of options would be available, of course, to ideological Blues who are living in states or counties that become part of the Red country. Note that no individual will be forced to move, or to sacrifice his property. Each individual will have voting rights in the country of which he is a citizen, but not in the other.
- He can simply stay where he is and remain a citizen of the United States of America. No positive action will be required from him. The only “loss” that such a person has suffered is that it has become less likely that the federal government will adopt policies or programs that person favors.
- The person can, during the period preceding the break-up, move to a location within the Red country and thereby automatically become a citizen of the Red country at the time of the split.
- The Red country can also agree that any person who chooses to move to the Red country within a specified period after the split (perhaps one year) can become a citizen of the Red country merely by filing a sworn statement that he wishes to do so and is renouncing his citizenship in the Blue country.
- If the person wishes to become a citizen of the Red country, but does not wish to move there, he would have to make a formal request to the government of the Red country, stating that he is prepared formally to renounce his citizenship in the Blue country if his request is granted. In such cases, the Blue country would consider him a resident alien, while the Red country would consider him a citizen residing abroad.
It is our strong desire, of course, that the two countries will live in peace with each other. We have NO desire to injure the Blue country. Quite the reverse: Even aside from general humanitarian concerns, it is greatly to our advantage that the Blue country—which will be our closest and most important neighbor—enjoys peace and prosperity. We hope and expect that within a few years of the break-up the two countries will be trading extensively with each other. They will export various manufactured goods to us, and provide us with various services; our exports to them will include food, minerals resources, electric power, and various industrial products. Most of this would be simply a continuation of the trade between the two regions that already exists.
A look at the map of the Red and Blue counties shows that many of the large metropolitan areas, although part of the Blue country, will be completely surrounded by Red territory. In all such cases, the Red country should permit freight between any two parts of the Blue country (for example, a train carrying goods from St. Louis to Chicago) to transit Red territory without any tariffs being levied. The same rule, of course, would apply to trucks, or to freight transported by air.
In return, freight originating in the Red country could pass through ports located in the Blue country without being subject to any Blue country taxes. Such shipments would be subject to the ordinary port fees that shipments of American goods had to pay, but no higher. The same would be true for shipments from other countries to the Red country: They could pass through ports in the Blue country without paying import taxes, although they would still have to pay the same port fees that goods being shipped to or from the Blue country incurred.
Each country will, of course, make its own rules on immigration and citizenship. It is to be anticipated that the Red country will severely limit, or prohibit altogether, immigration from Third-World countries such as Mexico. If such immigration really is beneficial, those benefits will therefore accrue solely to the Blue country.
We can also anticipate that the Red country will probably decide to deport, or persuade to leave by means of law enforcement, all or most illegal immigrants residing in its territory, and to end the automatic granting of citizenship to children born to illegal aliens. (Such persons will not be stateless: they will automatically be citizens of their parents’ country.)
A related question involves persons already living who were born in the United States, but whose parents were illegal immigrants. In my opinion, such persons were never entitled to American citizenship, and therefore should not be granted citizenship in the Red country even if they happen to reside there now. No great hardship is involved, since such persons are already citizens of their parents’ country, and in addition the Blues consider them citizens of the United States as well. In any event, most such persons reside in the Blue country.
Each country will automatically acquire public lands and structures in its own territory, but military hardware will be divided between the two countries.
5) Replies to some common objections
Obviously, there is no room in an article of this length to reply to every objection that might be made to a partition of the United States into two sovereign nations. However, I shall attempt to supply answers to the most common objections. It should be remembered that this would hardly be the first time in history that a sovereign nation was partitioned, and, except where relations between the two countries were markedly hostile, the practical problems involved always got worked out pretty easily.
One possible objection is that neither country will be self-sufficient economically. However, most countries are not self-sufficient. Certainly the United States of America is not: we currently import large amounts of petroleum in order to fuel out cars and trucks. The Red and Blue countries will handle this problem the way most nations do—by peaceful trade with countries that have the things we need.
Another objection is that the Red and Blue countries, if separated, would be much weaker militarily than the United States of America is now. I dare say they would be, but each of them would still be much stronger than any other country in the world, or any plausible combination of foreign states.
The United States Air Force is much, much stronger than that of any other nation, and any reasonable division of it will leave the Red and Blue countries with the two strongest air forces in the world. Likewise, our current navy is enormously more powerful than that of any other nation. Our army might find it difficult to “build democracy” in other nations. However, when it comes to the classic tasks of an army—killing people and breaking things—our capability is unmatched. Furthermore, none of the nations bordering us has strong armed forces. All this is without even taking into consideration our enormous arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Another problem concerns those persons who live in the Red country but work in the Blue country, and vice versa. How will they be treated? Can they retain their jobs? To whom will they pay their taxes?
To begin with, we should remember that this problem only affects a smallish minority of workers. At present, the large majority of Americans either live and work in the same county, or live in one county and work in another county of the same “color.” The most common exceptions involve people who live in a big (Blue) city and work in a nearby (Red) suburb. However, this occurs less frequently than you might suspect, since many of the “bedroom suburbs” surrounding big cities vote Blue. For example, all five suburban counties adjacent to Washington, DC voted for Obama by large margins, and he carried all the suburban counties surrounding New York City.
In those cases where an individual lives in the Red country and works in the Blue country he would have to obtain a work permit from the government of the Blue country and to carry adequate identification. In such cases, if the usual rule were followed, he would pay income taxes to the Blue country on the money he earns there.
But could not the two governments cause him trouble if they wanted to? Yes, they could, but they usually don’t. Of course, the individual could avoid such problems by changing either his residence or his job; but that would usually not be necessary.
Another objection concerns the question of border crossings. Would visas be necessary? Wouldn’t guarding the borders between the two countries be cumbersome and expensive? Well, are visas necessary today to travel between the United States and Canada? One would certainly have to carry adequate ID, but—as long as relations between the two countries are friendly—that would probably be all that would be required.
What would “adequate ID” consist of? The simplest solution would probably be for both countries to issue identity cards to each of its citizens. The notion that this is a “fascist” practice is ridiculous. Most democratic counties—including Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland—have been doing this for a long time. Nor is it a major nuisance: most of us already carry identification with us such as driver’s licenses or credit cards. Identity cards will have the added advantage of making election fraud more difficult.
What about visas? These would normally be unnecessary, except possibly at border crossings close to high crime areas, and maybe not even there. Even at such places, it might be sufficient to merely check a person’s ID card.
But wouldn’t this leave the door open to illegal immigration? Well, I expect that the Blue country will be swamped by illegal immigration, since liberals show no taste for the measures that are needed to prevent it. But the Red country (which we can tentatively refer to as the “American Federal Republic,” or AFR) can prevent it, and I expect that they will:
It has been suggested that, since the ideas and programs of the American Federal Republic (the Red country) are so different than those of most other nations, other countries will intervene to destroy it by economic warfare such as boycotts, embargoes, or blacklisting. This seems fanciful to me: If decades of such economic warfare by the Arab states failed to destroy tiny little Israel, how could such activities seriously threaten the American Federal Republic, which will be a large, rich country with abundant natural resources? Nor does it seem likely that many individual countries would be willing to make serious economic sacrifices in a (probably futile) attempt to damage us. Various other countries need our mineral resources and our agricultural products, and virtually all of them are constantly trying to increase their exports, so as to be able to pay for the imports they need.
- Merely checking people’s identity cards will prevent would-be illegal aliens from just walking or driving across the border at regular crossing points.
- Would-be illegal aliens can be deterred from sneaking across the border at other points by enforcing significant criminal penalties against persons who do so (in addition to, not instead of deportation).
- Depriving illegal aliens of all government benefits, such as the right to collect social security, will be another deterrent to their entering. So will a rigid policy of denying them driver’s licenses, or any other licenses or permits.
- Enforcing significant penalties against employers who hire illegal immigrants will dry up the supply of jobs which lures them here and will encourage those already here to leave voluntarily.
- Finally, most would-be illegal immigrants, seeing how much easier and safer it is to try to enter the Blue country, will avoid the more dangerous action of attempting to sneak into the Red country.
Finally, it has been suggested that a separation from the Blue states, even if achieved, will only provide a temporary solution to the problems threatening the Red states and counties: In the long run we will still be swamped by immigration, we will be unable to balance our budget, or even to avert fiscal catastrophe, and we will lose our will.
That could, of course, occur (and is likely to happen to the Blue country). I suspect, though, that as the citizens of the American Federal Republic see what is happening to the Blue country, their resolve to defend their borders and control immigration will increase, rather than decrease. The Blues might tax and spend so recklessly that they destroy their economy: the Reds are less likely to do so. I also think that a people with the gumption to secede—and with a pride in its own heritage and accomplishments—is not so likely to lose its will to survive.
6) Why not divide up the present United States by permitting only entire states to secede?
Several people have suggested that since counties have never been sovereign bodies, it would be more reasonable to permit only entire states to secede from the United States of America. Although at first sight that may seem reasonable, on more careful consideration it appears that such a substitute plan would have grave disadvantages.
Perhaps the greatest of these is that in many of the seceding states the Blues would comprise a substantial minority of the population. For example, in the election of 2000 (the source of the original Red-Blue map), Bush received only about 53 percent of the vote in Louisiana, 56 percent in North Carolina, and about 59.5 percent in Texas (a state which he carried by more than 1,300,000 votes). His percentages in several of the other states he carried—such as Missouri, Ohio, and Florida—were much lower still.
Consequently, most of the states in the American Federal Republic would include a large number of people who had been included in that country against their will, and would therefore be disgruntled. Even if they chose to become loyal citizens of the new republic, they would continue to vote against the reforms that conservatives feel are desirable. (In like fashion, many states that remained in the Blue country would include a large number of disgruntled citizens who would continue to oppose and obstruct the policies that the liberals wanted.)
On the other hand, if dissident counties were allowed to secede, then the number of such unwilling citizens of the Red country would be greatly reduced. Most of the Red counties have very large conservative majorities, thus enabling us to make the reforms that are needed, and also giving us the advantage of a relatively homogenous and unified population. The forcible inclusion of large numbers of disgruntled liberals in our new country would give us a larger population; but far from making us stronger, would make us weaker.
Another disadvantage of permitting only entire states to secede is that the Red country would thereby lose a significant fraction of its population, as well as about half of its territory.
7) How do we get from here to there?
Consider how our founding fathers proceeded in the 1770s. After several years in which grievances against the current government (the British crown) were discussed, followed by the Boston Tea Party and the subsequent crackdown on Massachusetts by the British government, they proceeded to call a Continental Congress, with delegates from most of the states present. The first Continental Congress assembled in 1774, but met for only a few weeks. The second Continental Congress assembled the following year, and it was that body that, a year later, adopted the Declaration of Independence.
In similar fashion, after preparing the way with various discussions, articles, and conferences, we might assemble a new “Continental Congress,” with delegates from all states in which there is substantial interest in leaving the union. After due discussion, this Continental Congress will draft and approve a new “Declaration of Independence.”
It is probably best if the new Declaration follow the format of the one adopted in 1776. Indeed, as much as possible, it might be wise to copy the wording of the original Declaration, with its ringing phrases familiar to Americans today. Even so, we should not expect more than a few states to sign the declaration.
The provisional government of the new republic should promptly invite other states to join it. In addition, the American Federal Republic should make it plain that if any county in one of the seceding states wishes to remain part of the United States of America we will not stand in its way. Correspondingly, if a county in a state that has declined to join the AFR wishes to secede from that state (and from the USA) and link up with the AFR they will be welcomed.
Since it is important that the American Federal Republic function as a constitutional republic, one of the first things the AFR should do is to hold a constitutional convention. We anticipate that the resulting document will be similar to the present American constitution, but not identical.
Now it is easy for any individual to make up a list of changes that he or she thinks would improve the present constitution, but far harder for a group of us to agree on the specific changes. Since an attempt to make many changes in the present constitution will cause a long convention, and we need a functioning constitution quickly, it would be advisable for the constitutional convention to make only a few essential changes but to add a section providing that another constitutional convention to be held within five years. Among the important changes that might be made at the first convention are:
- Adding a provision stating that the new constitution should always be interpreted in accordance with the meaning that it had at the time it was adopted — thereby preventing it from being distorted by future court decisions, as has happened to the American constitution.
- Adding a clause to Article I, Section 8 of the constitution, specifically authorizing Congress to maintain a system of regular payments to senior citizens — in other words, Social Security. (Without such a clause, opponents will claim that we are trying to surreptitiously make Social Security unconstitutional.)
- In like fashion we should add a clause to Article I, Section 8, specifically authorizing Congress to maintain a medical insurance program for senior citizens (in other words, Medicare, or something like it).
- We should also add a provision specifically stating that abortion is a matter for the individual states to deal with, and that the federal government has no authority to forbid, mandate, or regulate abortion.
Once a constitution has been adopted, the new republic should proceed to elect a Congress and a president, and at that point judges and cabinet officers can be selected. Only then will the new republic be ready to pass new legislation, including important laws regarding immigration and citizenship.
At every stage of this process we should avoid resorting to violence. It might be that at some point we are attacked and have no choice but to defend ourselves, but under no circumstances should we initiate military action. Even if we are attacked, we should delay striking back, but should instead try to negotiate a peaceful compromise.
It will be important, of course, for the American Federal Republic to have a treaty with the United States of America. Since it is of great importance that the two countries be on friendly terms, in negotiating that treaty, we should bend over backward to be fair to the other side.
At this point, a sympathetic reader might reasonably say, “This proposal sounds good, but what can I do now to help it come true?” Well, you can:
- Help build up support for the program by discussing it with your family, friends, or other associates.
- Organize or join an organization that is working to further our goals.
- Contribute money to such an organization.
- Organize or attend conferences to discuss possible problems and tentative solutions, and also to improve our plans.
- Do NOT engage in any violence.
As we do this, leaders will emerge and we will gradually discover how to proceed next.
8) The aftermath of separation: Will we prosper?
This is really two questions: Will the new American Federal Republic (the Red country) prosper? And will the remaining portion of the United States of America (the Blue country) prosper? Let us consider the latter question first.
We certainly hope that the Blue country will prosper. The American Federal Republic will be much better off if its principal neighbor—the United States—is economically prosperous. Fortunately, the remaining portion of the United States will have all the material assets that help to produce a prosperous country.
As the majority of the industrial output of the USA today is located in the Blue counties, after the split-up the remaining part of the USA will have a substantially larger industrial output than the new American Federal Republic. Furthermore, since the United States currently has far more than twice the GDP (Gross Dometic Product) of any other country, after the split-up it will still have a higher GDP than any foreign country, even such industrial powerhouses as Germany, Japan, or China. It will also have military forces far stronger than any plausible (or even implausible) combination of enemies.
The territory of the USA will of course be less than it is now; but with more than 600,000 square miles it will still be one of the larger countries on Earth. Furthermore, the value of that territory is greatly enhanced by the fact that it is crisscrossed by a network of railroads and superhighways, and the fortunate circumstance that virtually all of it lies in temperate climates. In addition, it will include an unmatched set of great natural harbors (such as those of New York and San Francisco) and port facilities.
The Blue country (the remaining part of the USA after the departure of the Red counties) will probably start with a population of somewhere between 150 million and 200 million. Furthermore, most of those people are literate, and a large number have very valuable job skills. In addition, the Blue country will enjoy all of the supposed advantages of diversity.
Since most of the most prestigious universities in the United States — indeed, in the world—are located in the Blue country (schools such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and Caltech), the stripped-down USA will still contain the most remarkable group of scientists and scholars in the world.
The Blue country will also wind up with the majority of the leading cultural centers (such as the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York), as well as a majority of the leading hospitals, and almost all of the great museums.
In addition, it will include Wall Street—which, despite some recent reverses, is still the world’s leading financial center—as well as the aircraft and motion picture industries (which provide a sizable portion of our overseas earnings).
Last, but certainly not least, it will include a working constitution, and a complete set of government institutions (including the federal courts, the various federal agencies, and a group of experienced personnel to run them) that have been built up under that constitutional framework.
Therefore, the Blue country certainly could prosper; however, it is not certain that it will. History shows that a country can have all the obvious material requirements for success, and yet still do poorly. Intangible factors such as ideology, partisanship, and leadership sometimes prove more important than territory, climate, natural resources, factories, or education. The Blue country will have, in exaggerated form, all of the political problems that plague the United States today:
I therefore suspect that within a few decades the Blue country will fail badly. I may be wrong, of course, and certainly hope that I am. However, even if my prediction is correct, the Blue country will still be in control of its destiny, and therefore able, at least in principle, to modify or reverse ill-advised policies and again become prosperous.
- A large number of citizens who favor leftist economic policies
- Large numbers of welfare recipients
- Large numbers of criminals
- Ethnic groups that mistrust each other
- A superabundance of diversity in language, race, and religion.
At first sight, it might appear that the Red country—the new American Federal Republic—will face greater difficulties than Blue country. It will have far less industry, almost no ports, and will lack the great universities (with their assembled scientific talent) that the Blue country has. Furthermore, it will lack the “diversity” that most Blues believe is necessary for success in the modern world. A more careful analysis, however, suggests that the American Federal Republic is likely to prosper:
With an area of perhaps 2,500,000 square miles, it will be one of the largest countries on Earth, with the additional advantage that most of it will enjoy a temperate climate. As its territory includes most of the food-producing parts of the present USA, it will be self-sufficient in food and will probably have a large surplus for export. It will also include the lion’s share of America’s mineral resources, enabling it to meet most of its own needs and also to gain foreign exchange to pay for needed imports.
Even more important will be its human resources: about 150 million persons, mostly literate, hard-working, and with useful job skills. Furthermore, since most of the high crime areas in the USA today are in the big cities, the Red country will have a markedly lower crime rate than America does today. For the same reason, it will also start with a smaller fraction of its citizens on welfare.
Another feature that will help the American Federal Republic to prosper is that the great majority of its population is devoted to the idea of living in a constitutional republic and that they favor a constitution that protects vital civil liberties such as freedom of speech and freedom of the press. (None of the countries in Europe has as profound a devotion to those rights as we do.) Furthermore, our population is experienced in the actual practice of democratic government, rather than just liking the general idea.
Still another advantage that the American Federal Republic will start with is that most of its citizens are proud of our heritage. (In contrast, many of the Blues are ashamed of their heritage, and keep apologizing for their past.) Furthermore, most of the citizens of the AFR strongly favor free enterprise and will resist any conversion to a socialist state.
In addition, the AFR will have the inestimable advantage of starting out with a relatively homogeneous population. As Publius wrote in 1787 in the Federalist Papers (see paragraph 5 of paper number 2, probably composed by John Jay):
Providence has been pleased to give this … country to one united people—a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs …
Actually, Jay was overstating his case somewhat. There were actually three quite different groups living within our borders at the time. Only by ignoring both the black slaves and the Indian tribes could he call us “one united people.” The white Europeans that Jay was referring to comprised less than 80 percent of the total population at the time.
Today, fortunately, we have eliminated the blight of slavery. And while non-Hispanic whites are only about 70 percent of the population of the present United States, they will constitute about 85 percent of the starting population of the American Federal Republic (because the large majority of American blacks and Hispanics live in the Blue country), giving the AFR more homogeneity than the United States had when the American constitution was drafted. Actually, the situation is even better than those figures imply. Virtually none of the American Indians or black slaves had been assimilated when Jay wrote, whereas many of the Blacks and Hispanics living in the Red counties today have been assimilated.
The American Federal Republic will therefore, in its most important attributes be similar to what the United States of America was in the late eighteenth century. It may start out with fewer factories than the Blue country has, and have far fewer museums and libraries, and less prestigious universities (just as the early United States had fewer factories than England, fewer museums and libraries, and no universities that could rival Oxford and Cambridge). But factories can be built, and museums and libraries can be founded, and our colleges and universities, unhampered by quotas and preferences, will acquire better students and better faculties than the established universities in the Blue country. Just as the United States flourished after gaining its independence, and built a “shining city on a hill,” so—with courage and determination—can we.
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Jonathan W. writes:
Mark D. writes: