Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Every state should plan to secede

Jerry Stratton, July 6, 2022

Texas flag on a Pecos wall

The Texas legislature meets every two years. They met in 2021, and they’ll meet again in 2023. The Texas Republican Party’s legislative priorities for the 2023 session are very mainstream. Secure elections, end child mutilation, the kinds of things that nobody except the beltway class could oppose.

There is a larger document that goes into more detail about what Texas Republicans want, however, and item number 33 states that:

Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto.

This is clarified further down at item 224:

We urge the Texas Legislature to pass [a] bill in its next session requiring a referendum in the 2023 general election for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation.

As things currently stand, this is a bad idea and would pretty much kill the Republic. With Texas out of the United States, no conservative would ever win the presidency again; the Supreme Court would fall and from there the Constitution would be discarded.

Texas secession is a nuclear strategy, and should be saved for when such drastic measures are the only option.

A much better idea is Representative Biedermann’s 2021 proposal, House Bill number 1359, to provide a referendum to Texas voters asking them:

Should the legislature of the State of Texas submit a plan for leaving the United States of America and establishing an independent republic?

It’s not clear if Biedermann’s idea is to have the plan and keep it available, or to have the plan and immediately use it; the latter is a bad idea. The former is so necessary it’s crazy we haven’t already done it. A plan to secede is very different from actual secession. Making plans for how secession would operate is one of the best ways to make secession unnecessary. Every state should have such a plan.

Lincoln: the men who pervert the Constitution

The beltway consensus is that secession is illegal, that there is nothing in the United States Constitution about seceding. This is partly true (the Constitution does have something to say about what a union is) but it’s just as true that the Constitution has nothing to say about how to stop secession, either. It’s not at all clear that if, say, Texas were to secede today, President Biden couldn’t just say, “sure, go ahead” and vastly improve his chances of reelection.1

My own opinion has been that Article IV, Section 4 addresses secession:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Apparently Lincoln held similar views. If the federal duty to guarantee a Republican Form of government ends when that state secedes, that clause would be completely superfluous. Any abusive state governments could avoid United States intervention simply by leaving the Union. The duty of the United States to guarantee a Republican Form of government within states is a duty to the people of those states.

It’s telling that the clause has no caveat about guaranteeing the form of government against the state government, but requires a specific request when the citizens themselves are causing trouble to the state government.

A plan for secession would, of course, include options for when the United States were open to the idea; for when the United States were antagonistic; and for when the United States were unresponsive.

In all cases, pre-existing mutual agreements with neighboring states would be invaluable. And in cases where the federal government is failing in its duties, those pre-existing agreements would also be invaluable, allowing states to share the load picking up where the federal government is failing.

A plan to secede would include plans for how the state will handle basic services after secession. How to create a currency, how to defend a border, how to negotiate with other states over things that the federal government normally handles. It would mean having agreements with surrounding states on what the border between those states means, for example, both during normal times and during emergencies.

Asimov: the fall of civilization

These are things every state should already have plans in place to do. Every state should be prepared for the federal government failing its duties. If, for example, the federal currency becomes untenable due to bad decisions at the federal level, every state should already know what they need to do to create their own currency to temporarily replace it and minimize suffering within their state.

Every state should have plans for how to handle invasions when the federal government is unable to respond to an invasion.2 The federal government might not be responding because it’s been attacked. It might not be responding because the invaders are taking advantage of a natural disaster in DC. There are many reasons why the federal government might fail in its basic duties, and states must be ready to take on those responsibilities temporarily.

Texas and every state should have plans in place to create parallel means of handling every basic dutiy of the federal government so that they’re ready not just for secession but for when the federal government fails to handle those basic duties.

They would need these plans if they secede. But once they have those plans, the plans could be implemented without actually seceding. This makes it less likely that secession is necessary, because it gives the Union the opportunity to fix its failure without falling apart first.

Plans for very unlikely occurrences are common in competent organizations precisely because those plans contain subplans that may well become useful. The military is occasionally derided for having plans for, what if Canada invades the United States? for example. But no one in the military thinks Canada will invade. They make those plans because we do not know what the future brings. Plans for unlikely events prepare us for unlikely events we have no plans for because we lacked the knowledge to imagine them.

The best means of ensuring peace is to prepare for war. And the best means of ensuring a more perfect union may well be to prepare for secession.

In response to Texas and Round Rock: News from Texas, and especially Round Rock/Austin.

  1. If there is any Democrat who could lose in a Texas-less USA, though, it’s Biden.

  2. I suspect many do.

  1. <- 2021 propositions