It’s not often that I wake up, check the news, and feel surprise anymore. I got over that during the Presidential campaign. Now, when President Donald Trump is following through with the things he said he’d do, I’m just trying not to throw things.
You know what’s worse than Trump himself, though? The reaction of many of his detractors. I’m a fairly vocal critic of some of Trump’s actions. I think what he’s doing is risky, but even so, the reaction of many has been infinitely more dangerous.
I’m not kidding.
You may have heard – if you follow the news, you did hear – about the idea of a “Calexit”, which would mean California’s secession from the United States. There’s a petition going around. According to the LA Times:
“If the measure gets on the ballot and gains approval by a majority of voters, it would repeal clauses in the California Constitution stating that the state is an “inseparable part of the United States” and that the U.S. Constitution is the “supreme law of the land,” according to the title and summary prepared by the state attorney general’s office.”
This is actually the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a long time.
I’m not kidding.
The fact that there is actually a movement, with fairly high numbers, that supports this is mind-boggling. I consider myself fairly libertarian in ideology. In general, that means that I favor decentralized power. What that translates to for a lot of people is that libertarians necessarily support secession. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Some of us know our history.
Those of us who do have read about the Civil War and seen what that actually meant. Most people get the crappy, public-school textbook version, where they might read a couple of primary documents, but not many. One document absolutely essential to understanding the Civil War and why Lincoln did what he did is his Fragment on the Constitution and Union.
That document isn’t a speech. It wasn’t polished or practiced, but it wasn’t meant to be. In fact, it was actually more like his own personal notes to himself. It probably wouldn’t be wrong to say he didn’t really mean anyone to ever see it. The Fragment was written before he had even actually taken the Presidency and started to do things.
In those personal notes, Lincoln used a metaphor for what he thought about the cause of the secession of several states. To Lincoln, the principle of “Liberty to all” is a golden apple, and the Constitution and the Union are a silver picture frame. In other words, the principle of America is the thing of value, and the Constitution and Union draw attention to it and protect that principle.
To quote him directly:
The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn, and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple — not the apple for the picture.
For Lincoln, who quite literally went to war over secession, the Union isn’t the most valuable thing – but it is valuable. It protects and draws attention to the principle of Liberty.
Destroying that frame will leave the principle more vulnerable.
The principle of Liberty will always exist, regardless of how many people recognize it. The fact that Calexit exists is a problem. This sort of populism leads to mob rule and, somewhat needless to say, mob rule isn’t good for anyone not in the mob.
Don’t see Calexit as a serious idea or a Libertarian one.
That sort of secession is un-American and anti-Liberty.