FINDING OUR OWN VOICE
A Look At The Option Of Secession
by F. Michael Zimmerman
Copyright, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2009, F. Michael Zimmerman
Since the end of the Civil War, most Americans have thought that secession has become a closed issue. Secession is still an option, albeit not a viable option at the present time. The doctrine of States' rights applies to a wide variety of issues that have nothing to do with the racism that many Americans associate with it. There have been many cases in which the will of a States voters has been overturned by court actions apparently motivated by the political opinions of the judges, not by their oaths to uphold the U.S. Constitution. A States citizens should make the option of secession viable. All objectives and plans of action are completely lawful. Make State and local officials respond to the will of those who elect them. Ready access to cyberspace has made possible a degree of citizens' activism undreamed of in the past. We must put an end to the use of Federal funding conditions to coerce compliance by State government with Federal mandates. It may be possible for a State to claim a separate membership in the United Nations. Even if a State can secede it should do so only if its citizens can do better on their own. Secession is no quick fix. The final section contains a summary of the steps we should take. Let us find our own voice!
1865 - PRESENT
The Civil War ended more than 140 years ago. During those fourteen decades, most Americans have thought that secession became a closed issue at the end of that tragic conflict. Except for Southerners themselves, most Americans have learned to despise everything the Confederacy stood for. Some of us have experienced scorn, rejection, persecution, and even violence at the hands of those who claim to be the modern-day heirs of her legacy.
But as we examine the overweening arrogance of the Federal government today even the most inveterate Yankee might, if honest, be compelled to concede that perhaps the South had a point. Today, most Americans deplore the institution of slavery and its legacy of racism. But perhaps even this question might have turned out better if we had allowed Southerners to take responsibility for and control of their own institutions.
Many Americans fear the intimidating power of the IRS and the abrogation of property rights by the EPA. More than a few U.S. citizens have been appalled at the casual ease with which the FBI and the ATF have attacked various groups. Some people might wonder if the Federal government would be quite so cavalier about citizens' rights if it might lead to the secession of a State from the Union. Those who hate the South might admit something, however grudgingly. Today their principal reason for that hatred is somewhat ironic. That reason is that the Confederacy discredited the concept of secession. Today some of us might want to secede ourselves!
IS IT TOO LATE?
Many of us are repeatedly angered by the arrogance of Federal intervention by non-elected officials and judges who repeatedly contravene the will of the voters. Some may look wistfully at the recent success of the Ukrainian secession in 1991 and the near-success of the ongoing effort in Quebec. But is it too late for us? Perhaps it is not too late. The reasons for the success of secession in Ukraine were diplomatic, not military. If Quebec ever secedes from Canada her success will be on the same basis. Even now, world opinion is that the Quebecois should decide the question. In fact, the secessionists in Quebec have already won. Even though the voters rejected secession, the fact that there was an election on the subject establishes their right to secede. Compared to this principle, the outcome of the vote is of secondary importance.
The examples of Ukraine and Quebec illustrate a fact of the 21st century that was equally true for the failure of the Confederate States of America in the 19th century. The factors which will make or break an attempt at secession lie in diplomacy, not war. The failure of the Confederacy and the more recent failure of the Chechens, contrasted with the success in Ukraine and the near success in Quebec underscore that fact. In any attempt by a region to secede from a powerful central government, the balance of military power will tilt toward the central government.
Therefore, the key to successful secession is to win timely diplomatic recognition from other powerful nations. Recent successful efforts would include those in Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Taiwan, or Bangladesh. All of these nations won recognition and support from more powerful nations. Efforts such as the Confederacy, Chechnia, Katanga, and Biafra which must face the wrath of the central government alone generally are doomed to failure. If Great Britain or France had recognized the Confederate States of America, Gettysburg would have ceased to matter. That battle might not even have been fought. The example of Ukraine demonstrates that secessionists have the best chance of success when they can secede without a war.
ANOTHER LOOK AT SECESSION
Many persons have examined the U.S. Constitution, from the 1800's to today, to see whether a State has the right to leave the Union. Most of these people have tended to be partisans on one side or the other of the question. But a candid examination of the Constitution as it stood amended in 1861 seems to indicate that at best, it is equivocal on the subject. Pro-secessionist arguments tend to center on the Tenth Amendment. Many opponents of the right of secession make much of the establishment of the U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land. But the Constitution makes no mention of secession itself.
Similarly, the Confederate States of America was founded by secessionists. Therefore the founders might logically have expected the issue to come up in their own future. Yet the Confederate constitution, like the U.S. Constitution, made no mention of the right of a State to leave the Confederacy.
Perhaps there is an obvious historical reason for this silence by the U.S. Constitution on such an obvious question. The authors of the Constitution were, after all, successful revolutionists one and all. They had just carried out a secession which was illegal according to the laws of their onetime mother country. The British Parliament had forced them to take this step by behaving illegally toward them. The possibility that some future generation in any State or region might wish to leave the Union which they were creating would have been obvious to them. They, of all people, would have understood perfectly well that the "right" to secede would depend on the success or failure of the effort itself, not on what the law says!
This interpretation of the Constitution casts the outcome of the Civil War into a new light. It means that secession is still an option here in the United States today. It is not a viable option in the early years of the 21st century. It may not be a particularly desirable option ever. But it is an option nevertheless. If the secessionists succeed, they will rewrite the law to legalize their action after the fact. If they fail, their enemies will do the same on behalf of their position! In neither case will it matter what the law says!
STATES' RIGHTS TODAY
In the these early years of the 21st century, most Americans both North and South have tended to equate States' rights with slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, racial discrimination, and racism in general. It is true that those who have defended these shameful causes have usually appealed to States' rights. But the principle of States' rights is a legal principle which has nothing to do with these reprehensible positions.
We find the principle of States' rights in the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
That's it. It says nothing about racism, slavery, or racial discrimination. Today, it can be invoked on behalf of a variety of contemporary issues, many of which have nothing WHATSOEVER to do with racism. Oregonians claim the right to regulate industrial development and to control environmental pollution in a way that earns them the admiration of environmentalists in other parts of the United States. But they may not want the Environmental Protection Agency to tell them how to regulate their environment. This is a legitimate application of States' rights! Obvious applications of States' rights today include issues such as same-sex marriages (where it is an important principle on both sides!), gay rights, hiring quotas, and State benefits for illegal immigrants. Other applications include offshore oil drilling, highway speed limits, nuclear power, air and water pollution controls, standards of obscenity, regulation of pornography, and the establishment of nuclear-free zones. At various times the principle of States' rights has been invoked concerning all of these questions.
FINDING OUR OWN VOICE
It is not the purpose of this treatise to advocate secession by any State from the United States of America. At this time, at the turn of the 21st century, secession is neither feasible nor particularly desirable. This treatise takes the position that a States citizens should make the option of secession viable. Once this has been done, we should serve notice on the Federal government that the decision to exercise this option lies with the citizenry, not with the Federal government.
That does not mean that anybody should secede. At this time, we should anticipate that to accomplish these objectives will require not years but decades. During the time we can expect the following agenda to take, the mere option of secession might serve as a check on Federal arrogance sufficient to make actual secession unnecessary or undesirable. Alternatively, the pursuit of the agenda outlined below may stimulate the Federal government to further acts of repression. In that event, the only way for citizens to redress these grievances might be for their State to secede from the United States. Once we have the option to secede, then we will be able to evaluate the advisability of doing so. A generation that must make the actual decision to secede or not to secede should be able to base such a decision upon an evaluation of the costs and benefits of each alternative. Then they can decide the question based on the only rational criterion for such decisions. WHAT'S IN IT FOR US?
All of the objectives and plans of action outlined below are, at the present time, completely lawful. Whether anyone ever does or does not secede from the United States of America, realization of these goals will prove to be desirable for the sake of the goals themselves. The underlying objective behind all of these measures is to enable us to speak for ourselves internally, nationally, and internationally. The goal is to FIND OUR OWN VOICE.
CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
It is not the business of your State or local governments to work for the interests of all Americans. There are 49 other State governments, plus the Federal government to do that! We do not elect our representatives to represent the interests of the immigrants among us, whether here legally or illegally. Almost all of those immigrants have their own governments whose job it is to look out for their interests. Virtually all of those countries have embassies in this country. Most of the important ones have consulates here. If those governments cannot or will not look out for the interests of their people, it is usually not in our power to compel them to do so. Those who are truly orphaned by the lands of their birth still live HERE by THEIR choice. WE have every right to dictate the terms under which they are welcome.
There is nothing cold-hearted about the above. Nothing in the preceding paragraph should discourage anyone from helping the powerless. Anyone can come to the aid of unborn children and their mothers. We should all assist the orphans, the widows, and the dispossessed. Those who so desire are free to do so. We may even be committed or obligated to do so! But it is still OURS to decide how best to honor those commitments and obligations! We certainly have an obligation to help the homeless, the orphaned, and the widows among our own citizenry. They too elect our government. Our elected officials work for them as well as for us. But these officials have an obligation to aid the alien, the dispossessed, and the refugee, ONLY TO THE EXTENT THAT WE CHARGE THEM WITH SUCH A DUTY. They have NO RIGHT to assume such tasks in response to ANY VOICE EXCEPT OURS!
American democracy has worked best a curious blend of elitism and populism. It is elitist in that only a few have ever done the actual work of caucusing, publicizing, letter-writing, running for office, lobbying, and the other tasks necessary for shaping public policy. It is populist in that membership in this elite has traditionally been open to all. You, who are reading this treatise, have become a part of this elite, however minor or transient your membership might be. The growth of cyberspace has enabled those who wish to involve themselves in the political process to magnify their influence as never before. It is up to YOU to let your elected officials know your will! The Cold War is over. The phrase, "one push of the button", now has a brand-new meaning. This new meaning can inspire even greater terror than did the old meaning to those who seek to close the doors of political participation to the masses.
Make our State and local officials respond to the will of those who elect them! You have the power. YOU are the one who must use it.
RESOLVING OUR OWN DIFFERENCES
Thanks to the efforts of a few racists in American history, many well-meaning people look to centralized power as a knockout punch to secure liberty and justice for all. This has caused the doctrine of States' rights to fall into disrepute. But, as has been noted previously, States' rights is a legal doctrine which has nothing to do with the abrogations of human rights on behalf of which it has often become an issue. It is a valuable legal principle. It deserves to be rehabilitated. In the present, most Americans have no serious political opposition to the basic principles of human rights. Our disagreements regarding affirmative action, sexual harassment, gay rights, and other questions, center on the proper implementation of principles, not the principles themselves. Attempts to equate conservatism with racism are spurious. In the 21st century, few States have any group of voters with any significant political strength pushing an agenda contending that anyone should "ride in the back of the bus".
The principle of States' rights in its simplest form affirms the right of the State to decide a multitude of questions without appeal to the Federal government. It is an expression of the broader principles of home rule and local control, both of which have honorable histories in all English-speaking countries. It affirms that local jurisdictions should decide local issues barring any compelling reason for the intervention of central authority. It grants local people the right to be wrong, as long as they do not attempt to force others to make their mistakes. Only gross violation of basic moral principles should compel outsiders to intervene in the conduct of local affairs by those who must then live with the consequences of their decisions.
We are not always in agreement among ourselves on matters of public policy. Both liberals and conservatives have been guilty of calling on the Federal government to advance an agenda when the voters reject that agenda. If we are to reclaim our right to govern ourselves we must govern ourselves.
We should remember the statement attributed to Voltaire, "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." This author does not agree with the decision by the people of Davis, California to make their municipality a nuclear-free zone. It seems to be poorly thought out if it has been thought out at all. Nevertheless we should support the right of the people of Davis to make this decision for themselves. We should oppose any effort by anyone to overturn their decision in Federal court. We also do not have to live in Davis! The same thing holds true for requirements for an armed citizenry in municipalities such as Downers Grove, Illinois, or for bans on gun ownership in other localities. We should develop the habit of giving limited support to political agendas with which we may not agree as long as the advocates of those agendas pursue them AT THE STATE LEVEL ALONE.
As long as a State remains in the Union the U.S. Constitution remains the supreme law of the land. Therefore we cannot make laws in defiance of Federal law. But we should take steps to curb the tendency to challenge State policy when such challenges originate from no other motive than disgruntlement at being on the losing side of an issue. We should find ways to limit such court challenges to questions of serious violations of Federal law.
There are only two ways we can curb the tendency of political activists to use Federal courts to undo setbacks in their agendas. First, we can increase the costs for such abuse of the Federal courts. Second, we can make such challenges unnecessary by incorporating into State law those portions of Federal law with which we agree.
As long as the U.S. Constitution remains the supreme law of the land we cannot outlaw challenges to State statutes in Federal courts. But we can probably discourage people from making such challenges in all except truly important cases.
One way would be to promulgate some kind of covenant among a States citizens in which they agree not to use the Federal courts to overturn measures enacted by the voters. We should see if we could somehow make such a covenant enforceable by law. But we ought to anticipate that such a covenant will be enforceable only in the "court of public opinion." This alone may be enough to justify its existence. We should seek to heighten public awareness of those among us who consistently set State policy in contravention of the will of the voters as they have expressed it at the ballot box. If we call attention to those among us who operate in defiance of the will of people we will undoubtedly be able to find lawful ways to inhibit their activities. In the long run, there is only one solution. Voters must become aware of the number of times they have won at the ballot box, only to see their will overturned at the Federal level by people on the losing side. Only an awareness of those who HABITUALLY force us to take policy courses we do not want, and a systematic rejection of such people among us, can end this meddling from the inside.
Once we have identified the inside meddlers among us, we should eliminate State funding and State tax exemptions for such groups. It might be advisable to eliminate State money for groups which constantly call on outsiders to force unwanted policies upon us even if our own pet projects also lose government money or government tax exemptions. After all, a group operating with widespread local support can survive without special breaks from the central government more easily than can a group which lacks such support. Additionally, we can translate the elimination of tax support and tax exemptions into lower taxes for all.
Another way to discourage appeals to Federal courts may be applicable to questions where we have no real quarrel with Federal law. If we have no quarrel with Federal law on a subject we might want to consider passage of State law modeled after it! This would make it unlikely that the Federal courts would hear cases on this subject which had been decided at the State level. In other cases we might decide we DO NOT want State laws modeled after Federal law on a subject. In either case the resulting debate will increase public awareness of specific agreements with, and grievances against, the Federal government.
We will probably need to take tougher action against disgruntled losers who make appeals to Federal courts merely to thwart the will of the voters. One way might be to enact laws in which the loser of a Federal appeal pays the legal costs for both sides. We might also want to find a way to enact a "plaintiff pays" law. Such a law would compel the plaintiff in a Federal court challenge to a voter-approved ballot proposition to pay the legal costs for both sides REGARDLESS OF THE OUTCOME OF THE CHALLENGE. The only exception would be IF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT HEARS THE CASE. The latter case presents greater likelihood of a serious constitutional problem. But such a law would tend to discourage challenges to the will of the voters in all but serious problems of conformity with Federal law. When such a problem exists, this will also be grounds to consider whether or not we wish to remain subject to U.S. Federal law. Finally we need to establish liability for damages resulting from delays in the implementation of any portion of any voter-approved measure appealed to Federal courts which the Federal courts eventually uphold.
MAKE STATE GOVERNMENT WORK FOR THE STATES CITIZENS!
It is not the business of the State government to work for the good of all Americans. Other Americans have 49 other State governments and a Federal government to do that!
We do not elect our State government to execute the will of the Federal government. The Federal government has an executive branch and a judicial branch to carry out its dictates.
The business of the State government is (or should be) to carry out the wishes of the voters of that State! But all too often our elected representatives respond to the wishes of those who have no right to any voice in electing them. All too often, they carry out the will of Washington, D.C. rather than the will of the voters who elected them. Notorious examples include environmental regulations based on Federal mandates, not on laws passed by the elected legislators. Too many people accept this as a normal state of affairs! We have come to count on the Federal courts to uphold our rights rather than upholding them ourselves. Then we wonder why our civil rights become eroded. When we rely on the government as the guarantor of our rights, the government can then define the scope of those rights.
Before we can consider secession, we must elect a government under which we would be willing to live as the government of a sovereign nation. Few citizens of any State would say that we have such a government in the early years of the 21st century. We have become used to having the Federal government looking over our shoulder to prevent abuses of power at the State level. Then we wonder why we have abuses of power at the Federal level!
We must work together to build a State government under which we would be willing to live as the government of a sovereign nation. This means that we must take measures to make State government respond to the wishes of that States voters, regardless of what the Federal government wants.
We should thoroughly revamp all State agencies to make them accountable to the will of the voters. Perhaps we should amend our State constitution to extend the recall to appointed as well as to elected officials.
Ready access to cyberspace has made possible a degree of citizens' activism undreamed of in the past. No longer is it necessary for citizens to rely on lobbying organizations or on paid or unpaid "advocates" to keep track of what their government is doing. Today it is possible for us to watch the activities of both elected and appointed officials with an intensity which was once possible only for paid professional lobbyists. Indeed we can even monitor the activities of the lobbyists! We can form our own news media with our own writers, reporters and commentators to keep track of events of interest to us. It is now possible for networks of activists and correspondents to compare notes over the Internet and to form movements overnight. We should use this new ability to perform some specific studies of our government agencies and to pool the results of our efforts.
We should form our own USENET discussion groups. In such electronic meeting places, we can discuss issues with all others who wish to discuss them with us. We can disseminate news and press releases independently of the larger media. We can conduct fund-raising efforts. We can disseminate form letters for use in email, fax, and letter-writing campaigns by those among us who lack any flair for verbal composition.
Another use of the Internet might be to hold town hall meetings and opinion polls. Strong encryption software such as PGP makes it possible for each adult citizen to have an encrypted (and therefore secret) vote. This would permit instant polling and immediate response to elected legislators regarding proposed legislation.
We should commence a study of all State agencies to learn to whom they are accountable and to whom they respond. We should take whatever lawful steps may be necessary to make them responsive to the will of the voters of of that State and to them alone. We should abolish all agencies which we cannot so reform.
This brings us to a particularly knotty problem in the exercise of Federal power.
Federal Funding Conditions
Sometimes the Federal government wants certain laws which it is unable or unwilling to enact at the Federal level. So it demands that the States enact laws that it wants. In order to coerce the States into compliance, it makes the enactment of such laws a condition for the receipt of Federal money for certain programs already in the State budget. Notable examples include Federal standards for highway speed limits, vehicle exhaust emissions, and gasoline additives. There are also a host of other unwanted Federal regulations, which originate primarily from persons not elected at the ballot box. These non-elected bureaucrats force States governments to enact these regulations into State law in order to receive Federal funds.
This is BLACKMAIL of the lowest kind! It is OUR money, collected from the taxpayers that they threaten to withhold! Yet our State government usually enacts the demanded laws and regulations with all meekness. Putting a stop to this coercion will require systematic awareness of the problem by the voters and coordinated resistance at the State and Federal levels. The remainder of this section will discuss ways to resist this abuse of our money and of Federal power at the State level. The next section of this treatise will discuss resistance at the Federal level.
Revising Our Tax Structure
There is only practical response at the State level. We can decide to do without the Federal funds. We might simply reduce the State budget by the amount to be cut. If the funds are for our highways or for other programs desired by the voters then we will have to find new ways to fund them at the State level. Consistent secessionists should recognize the inevitability of this step in any event. If any State ever leaves the Union her citizenry will have to do without these Federal funds anyway. We will have two choices. We can stop spending the money or we can raise it at the State level. We will need to decide how much we want to pay for these government services, who should pay for them, and how they will pay.
We will be inhibited in paying for desired programs at the State level if we continue paying taxes to the Federal government for benefits which we do not receive. At this time, we should confine our resistance to lawful activity. But whenever we are not required to cooperate with the Federal government in the collection of Federal tax revenues we should withhold cooperation.
MAKE STATE SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES REPRESENT THEIR STATE!
It is not the business of our Senators and Representatives to work for the good of all Americans. There are 98 Senators, plus the Representatives of the other forty-nine States of the Union to do that.
We do not elect representatives to Congress so that they can represent the will of the Federal government to us who elected them. That is the job of the executive and judicial branches of the Federal government. It is the business of the Senators and Representatives from a State to work for the good of the voters who elected them. We do not elect them to help us to conform to the will of Washington, D.C. We elect them to bring the Federal government into conformity with our will! They owe it to us to represent our interests, not the interests of those who have no vote in electing them. We should make sure that they do so and remove from office all of those who do not.
We should give them a strict accounting of all Federal taxes paid from our States and hold our elected representatives answerable for benefits received by us in return for those tax revenues. Form the habit of asking your Senators and Representatives the following question.
"What have you done for me lately?"
Federal Funding Conditions
This brings us back to the use of Federal funds as a tool to coerce State governments into the passage of legislation desired more by the Federal government than by the voters of the State. We need to instigate massive email, fax, and letter-writing campaigns to our elected officials in Washington, D.C. We need to let them know that we are using cyberspace to watch them like hawks twenty-four hours a day! We should make it clear to each and every Senator and Representative who campaigns for our votes that they are to seek the elimination of such Federal conditions at every opportunity. We should make them aware that we know every time such opportunities arise and expect them to make use of them! Congress should invalidate all such conditions imposed by the executive branch of the Federal government.
Once again we confront the populist elitism which has characterized all important political events in our history. The best that democracy has ever been able to do is to make participation open to all. In actual fact, only a small percentage of the people actually participates. In the Revolutionary War, estimates are that only 5% of the citizenry actually got involved in the fight for independence. So we must face the fact that those who choose to exercise the enormous power which the personal computer gives them will probably be a similarly small percentage of the populace. But this is not the kind of elitism that we normally associate with the word. This is an elite whose membership is open to all. Anyone can join or just watch. But it will still be an elite. We can make it easy for all to participate. But we must win the support of those whose main interests are more personal. We should translate all our measures into lower taxes, greater Web access, better roads, more options to educate children and keep them safe, and other options which everyone can feel. This illustrates another advantage of cyberspace. It allows the political activist to get a feel for the issues which most pressingly concern those who do not get involved in the political process. We should then make every effort to address ourselves to these felt needs. If we are to win mass support we must relate the thought to the masses.
Cuts In The Federal Budget
Our State officials may take the courageous step of choosing to refuse Federal funds rather than to submit to Federal usurpation of States' rights. We should demand support for such a move at the Federal level. We should urge our Representatives to cut these funds out of the Federal budget BY NO LESS THAN THE AMOUNT DENIED TO OUR STATE. That amount is the MINIMUM by which they should make these cuts. If possible, they should eliminate these items from the next Federal budget ENTIRELY. It is likely that we can find allies in other States.
We should urge our Representatives to vote for Federal tax cuts which will reflect cuts made in the Federal budget plus cuts in administrative costs for the administration of funds no longer in the budget. This will have the effect of preventing taxpayers from having to pay twice for the same services which we may choose to pay for at the State level. We should use the Internet and email to make it clear that we are now watching every move they make. We should inform them in no uncertain terms that we will use against them at the next election any attempt to increase hidden taxes to compensate for tax cuts!
We should defeat all Senators and Representatives who fail or refuse to end this Federal blackmail regardless of our agreement with them on other matters. Conversely, we should support all our elected representatives in Washington who DO make every effort to return State matters to State control regardless of our disagreement with them on specific issues.
We must form correspondence networks to raise funds for candidates we desire, and to fund recall efforts.
A SEAT IN THE UN?
It may be possible for a State to claim a separate membership in the United Nations even while she is still part of the United States. During the formation of the UN, a set of political compromises gave two additional seats to the Soviet Union. These seats were claimed by the Ukraine and Byelorussia (now Ukraine and Belarus), although neither of them were sovereign nations until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Charter of the United Nations lays down the following requirements for membership in that body.
The original Members of the United Nations shall be the states which, having participated in the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco, or having previously signed the Declaration by United Nations of January 1, 1942, sign the present Charter and ratify it in accordance with Article 110.
1. Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.
2. The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
1. The present Charter shall be ratified by the signatory states in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.
2. The ratifications shall be deposited with the Government of the United States of America, which shall notify all the signatory states of each deposit as well as the Secretary-General of the Organization when he has been appointed.
3. The present Charter shall come into force upon the deposit of ratifications by the Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America, and by a majority of the other signatory states. A protocol of the ratifications deposited shall thereupon be drawn up by the Government of the United States of America which shall communicate copies thereof to all the signatory states.
4. The states signatory to the present Charter which ratify it after it has come into force will become original Members of the United Nations on the date of the deposit of their respective ratifications.
The U.N Charter uses the word "state", not "nation". It does not lay down national sovereignty as a requirement for membership. There have been member states which were NOT sovereign nations. Therefore it may be possible for a state to become a separate member of the United Nations even while still a State in the United States.
Many readers of this essay may wonder why we should have anything to do with the UN. The answer is simple, although perhaps unpalatable to some. Whether the UN is a good thing or a bad thing it is not going to go away any time soon. Withdrawal of the United States from the UN seems unlikely at this time. So today, a State is part of that body whether her citizens like it or not. Briefly stated, the principal objection to further American participation in the United Nations is that we are putting more into it than we are getting out of it. Perhaps this is all the more reason for us to seek a greater voice in the conduct of its affairs!
If a State seek membership in the UN it should be based on the same criterion as the issue of secession. Ask what's in it for us and then act in accordance with the answer to that question.
There is one important advantage that might be expected to be gained from UN membership. That advantage would be the opportunity for a State to make her interests and concerns known internationally without filtering from the Federal government, so as to negotiate with sovereign nations as a near equal. This would make the UN a valuable place to line up international support. At the same time, a State government would be able to gauge more accurately the price of that support. For example, if Japan thinks she can cut better trade deals with a State government than with the Federal government, the Japanese might support that State. But that would be because those deals would be better for Japan! We who live in that State need to ask whether or not they would also be better for us. If we can do better on our own, that would be a reason to do so. But perhaps we cannot cut better deals with Japan, China, Indonesia, or Malaysia than the U.S. government can cut for us. Then perhaps we should try to work out our grievances with Washington instead of breaking away.
If any State doed gain UN membership there is one thing she should establish from the outset. She is not a puppet state of the United States. We should use that forum to pursue our not best interests, not the best interests of the U.S. as a whole. It is the job of the U.S. delegates to speak for the country as a whole. We should use that forum to speak for ourselves.
SPEAK FOR OURSELVES!
There are myriad questions which cannot be either solved or exacerbated by secession or membership in the United States. Many of these issues are economic rather than political. The Confederacy did not survive long enough for those issues to become a problem, but they are problems that any secession would have to face sooner or later. It would have made little difference whether the political capital of the southern States was Washington or Richmond as long as the financial capital of both was New York City. The financial, economic, and international monetary realities of the late 20th century are now complex enough to make that an oversimplification in our own time, but the basic reality still is true. No economically developed nation has full control over her economy, finances, or monetary policy. At best she has as much of a voice in the economies of other nations as they have in hers. At best, we can expect to avoid total domination of our economic life by outside interests with no concern for our own best interests. The principle is the same whether that domination comes from a foreign nation or from our own Federal government. It would do us little good to escape domination by Washington, D.C. only to become a puppet state for Japan or China. There is no reason for us to issue our own money if we cannot give it better backing than Federal Reserve Notes. If a State should become independent, her share of the U.S. national debt will certainly become an issue in the negotiations that would follow. But it would do little good to escape this burden for her citizens if our new government cannot live within its means either.
The world is a smaller place than it was in the 1860's. It is going to become even smaller. A State will be a part of that world regardless of national sovereignty. That is a reality that carries as much opportunity as danger. We need to separate outside interests that invest in the welfare of our State from those that merely plunder our wealth. We need to formulate internal policies that will encourage the former while putting a stop to the latter. We need to translate these policies into goals, and to translate these goals into an agenda. Then we can evaluate our State government, the Federal government, and the governments of other nations by this agenda. We should pursue this agenda in both national and international fora.
We need to encourage a States citizens to invest in the businesses and economy of their State. If Wall Street has less international power now than it used to, that might do us little good if it is because the power of Tokyo is greater. As citizens we must demand that our elected officials at all levels seek our best interests!
The Internet today allows even the humblest citizen to speak to the world. Likewise, it allows us to hold our government officials to a higher standard of accountability to us than has ever before been feasible. We need to use this tool to raise the consciousness of our citizenry. We need to encourage our fellow citizens to speak up for ourselves. Let others speak for themselves. That is their right. But if we do not speak up for our own best interests, who will?
NO QUICK FIX
There is an answer to those who look to secession as a quick fix to the growing threat of Federal tyranny. That answer consists of two words - forget it! There will be nothing quick about any of the steps we must take before anyone will be in any position to secede from the United States. Neither can anyone guarantee that secession will be any kind of a fix in a day when it does become a viable option. Secession, if it ever becomes feasible, will be a potential solution not to today's problems but to tomorrow's problems. It is virtually impossible to foresee the situation in a State, the United States, or the world in any time when secession might become a feasible option. Therefore, there is no way to know whether secession will even be a fix for the problems of that day.
Nevertheless, the steps outlined above will have the effect of transforming secession from something unthinkable into a feasible option. A generation might well have the ability to secede from the Union, and yet decline to do so. But their ability to secede should serve as a check on the domination of State affairs by the Federal government. The measures recommended above will enable the citizenry to reclaim both the right and the capability for self-government. That will make the above agenda worthy of pursuit with or without secession as the eventual goal.
For convenience, the following section contains a summary of the steps we should take before we even consider secession whether or not we ever consider it.
Let us find our own voice!
WHAT WE SHOULD DO
I. Make sure that local officials respond to the wishes of those who elect them.
II. Give limited support to political agendas pursued conscientiously AT THE STATE LEVEL ALONE.
III. Promulgate a covenant to settle our differences without appeal to Federal courts.
A. Seek to make this covenant legally enforceable.
B. Give limited support to those who abide by this covenant regardless of agreement with them.
C. Work in opposition to those who do not abide by this covenant, even if we agree with their positions.
IV. Consider whether OR NOT we should model our State laws after Federal law.
V. Enact laws to compel the loser of Federal appeal pays the legal costs for both sides.
VI. Find a way to enact a "plaintiff pays" law; the plaintiff in a Federal court challenge to a voter-approved ballot proposition must pay the legal costs for both sides REGARDLESS OF THE OUTCOME OF THE CHALLENGE -- UNLESS THE U.S. SUPREME COURT HEARS THE CASE.
VII. Establish liability for damages resulting from delays in the implementation of any portion of any voter-approved measure appealed to Federal courts which the Federal courts eventually uphold.
VIII. Identify organizations that consistently invoke Federal power to thwart the will of the electorate.
A. Publicize their reliance on outside money and influence to force policy measures on voters that the voters do not want.
B. Cut off State and local tax support and tax exemptions for such groups; revise tax laws to achieve this end, even if organizations with local support also lose public funding or tax exemptions.
IX. Build a State government under which we would be willing to live as the government of a sovereign nation.
X. Extend the right of popular recall to appointed as well as to elected officials.
XI. Use the Internet for the following purposes:
A. Keep 24-hour watch on our elected and appointed officials.
B. Instigate email, fax, and letter-writing campaigns to let them know we are watching them.
C. Make studies of the accountability and responsiveness of government agencies and officials.
D. Form correspondence networks to disseminate and to pool information gained from the above.
E. Conduct fund-raising for candidates, recall efforts, and initiative campaigns.
F. Form our own media to publicize matters in a manner of interest to the general citizenry.
XII. Uses of USENET discussion groups.
A. Discussion of issues with all others who wish to discuss them with us.
B. Dissemination of news and press releases independently of the larger media.
C. Conduct of fund-raising efforts.
D. Dissemination of form letters for use in email, fax, and letter-writing campaigns.
XIII. Use the Internet to hold town hall meetings and opinion polls.
A. Use strong encryption software such as PGP to permit each adult citizen to cast an encrypted, secret vote.
B. Use these town hall meetings to take instant polling and to provide immediate response to elected legislators regarding proposed legislation.
XIV. Commence a study of all State agencies to learn:
A. To whom are they are accountable?
B. To whom they respond?
XV. Reform all State agencies to make them responsive to the will of the States voters and to them alone.
XVI. Abolish all State agencies which we cannot reform so as to make them responsive to and accountable to the voters.
XVII. When the Federal government attempts to dictate State policy as a condition for Federal funds, we should resist by the following means:
A. Resistance at the State level.
1. Consider doing without the Federal money as a serious option.
2. Work out alternative means to finance desired State public works, such as highways, at the State level.
3. Cooperate with the Federal government as little as lawfully possible; whenever we can lawfully refuse to cooperate in the collection of Federal taxes, we should do so.
B. Resistance at the Federal level.
1. Instruct our Senators and Representatives to take the following actions:
a. Vote to eliminate such conditions for Federal funding at every opportunity.
b. Should a State choose to do without Federal funding in any category:
1. Vote AGAINST all further Federal appropriations for that purpose.
2. Vote FOR tax cuts in proportion to the amount of Federal funding cut off from that State.
3. Elect Senators and Representatives who will carry out the above agenda.
c. Deny reelection to any Senators or Representatives who refuse to vote according to the above agenda.
XVIII. Use cyberspace to get in touch with ordinary citizens.
A. Learn their felt needs.
B. Address our agenda to those felt needs.
C. Show how the above agenda addresses itself to those felt needs.
XIX. Investigate the feasibility and advisability of separate membership in the United Nations even while still a State in the United States.
XX. Use the Internet to formulate policies, goals, and an agenda that are in OUR OWN best interests.
A. Seek sufficient control over our own economic affairs to pursue this agenda.
B. Hold ALL government officials accountable for their pursuit of this agenda