OK, OK, so the U.S. isn’t a democracy per se but really a representative democracy, with a federalist set up. Still, most of us understand the basic idea of a democratic, federalist republic, right? The ultimate power resides with the citizens, who vote for representatives who, well, represent our interests in the seat of federal power. If we don’t like the way we are being represented, we usually vote out the offending representatives. We also elect a chief executive, albeit a bit indirectly, and, like our representatives, if we don’t like the job they’re doing, we vote them out at the next opportunity. It’s all set out in the Constitution, and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.
This founding document has served us quite well. Sure, it’s had its problems, like its hyperfederalistic support for slavery, but we fixed that. It’s just flexible enough not to break when bent a little. And when we had a tough election back in 2000, rather than blowing each other up, we managed to turn over the office of the President peacefully (although as Jeff Toobin has said, maybe not having tanks in the streets is not the only measure of a democracy).
There was this one time though that was a real problem. Some of the states didn’t like how the federal government was going about things. In fact, there was a national election, and the guy who was democratically elected was so offensive to some that a lot of folks started to talk about seceding from the Union. Here, let me quote some of them, just to remind you:
I believe the federal government has become oppressive. It’s become oppressive in its size, its intrusion in the lives of its citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state.
Texans need to ask themselves a question. Do they side with those in Washington who are pursuing this unprecedented expansion of power, or do they believe in individual rights and responsibilities laid down in our foundational documents.
Where’re you gonna’ stand? With an ever-growing Washington bureaucracy, or are you going to stand with the people of this state who understand the importance of state’s rights.
Texans need to stand up. They need to be heard, because the state of affairs that we find ourselves in cannot continue indefinitely…
…We think it’s time to draw the line in the sand and tell Washington that no longer are we going to accept their oppressive hand in the state of Texas. That’s what this press conference, that’s what these Texans are standing up for. There is a point in time where you stand up and say enough is enough, and I think Americans, and Texans especially have reached that point.
So the question is, do states have the right to secede anymore? Because it was a compact. It’s not perpetual. In fact, in the Declaration of Independence it says it is our right, it is our responsibility to get away from a government who doesn’t listen to us any more.
Do you even have a right to do that as a state anymore?
Although this rhetoric closely resembles that of the immediately-antebellum South, it is actually from the last couple of weeks. Note to Glenn Beck: no, the individual states never had the right to secede. If you’ll remember, the last time that happened, the fields ran red with blood for four long years. And Glenn, the Declaration declared independence from a distant central government in which the citizens had no representation—they did not elect the King, and they did not have seats in Parliament.
Here’s the deal: if you don’t like your elected leaders, be patient. You’ll have a chance to make yourself heard again very soon. Your overheated rhetoric is going to get someone killed. When it does, it’s going to be on you.