STATES DISSOLVING THE UNION: PEP-RALLY TALK
By Timothy N. Baldwin, JD.
February 28, 2012
Anyone who has read my articles for the past several years knows I advocate the principles of Federalism and State Sovereignty. What is becoming a joke to me, though, is this demonstrably pep-rally doctrine that the States will and should dissolve the union because the federal government ignores the constitution—as if evident violations are new to our generation. What would be new, rather, is for people to address these constitutional problems in terms of practical political redress, not editorial hype and patriotic emotionalism.
No Sovereign Qualities
Reason and experience show, people will not dissolve deep-seated political ties except in the most unlivable conditions, and sometimes not even then. People would rather remain with what they know to stay relatively or seemingly secure than to uproot an entire political system and take the risks of what that implies.
Let us be frank: the States are not currently positioned to be independent from the union. Neither is there indication that they will be in the foreseeable future. For over 200 years, the States have formed their societies, governments, and economies with the understanding and presumption that their wealth, security, and stability depend on the other States and federal government.
States (North Dakota excluded) have not instituted even the most basic necessity of sovereign nations: a state bank. Neither has any State maintained a well-regulated militia for a “Free State”, another basic necessity to execute sovereignty. For all practical purposes, there is not one State treating itself as sovereign.
Federal handouts have turned States into subdivisions of the federal government. Generations have elected State and federal politicians with this principle in mind: the more federal money you bring into our State, the more popular and liked you are. Those politicians continually get elected and re-elected.
Many industries and agricultures sit idle because the federal government pays them to be non-productive. And many of these non-producing, federal-gleaning persons run for and are elected to State office. The people of States are not treating themselves as citizens of a State, but instead as citizens of one nation—a persuasion now held by most Americans.
As a result, the infrastructures and economic and governmental systems of the States are not designed for independence but for dependence on a well-entrenched and deeply rooted national system (see, USC, Amendment 14).
Dependents on Federal Income
Then there are people who claim to love liberty and independence, yet their income, at least in part if not in full, comes from federal programs. Many non-profit corporations are in the same boat, including even religious private schools, universities, and institutions. Many more could be added to the list. These observations are not made as moral judgments but as political factors regarding whether the States will want to dissolve the union because of “unconstitutional” federal actions.
Do you expect that people will advocate for union dissolution when feeding their children depends on the federal government? The same principle can be applied to the innumerable persons whose financial wellbeing either directly or indirectly benefits from the current political union. This does not even include the countless number of persons who do not study political matters or are not even interested in them.
Wars, Foreign Invasion, and Self-Defense
The next topic epitomizes imbecility. It goes like this. Some claim America is under serious attack by terrorists and other foreign empires that hate America and want to destroy us. Upon this belief, they support the “necessary” action that the United States continually fight Wars on Terror across the world, costing many billions of dollars, so we can “live free in America.” They say, were it not for our strong and proactive military fighting these deplorable freedom-haters, we would not be free today. Yet, these same people ironically advocate for dissolution of the union because of the federal government’s “unconstitutional” actions.
As a side, how can one reasonable believe the wars conducted by the federal government are just and necessary when he believes the federal government’s domestic actions—which carry much less impact and devastation—are unconstitutional? This makes no sense and demonstrates a confused or biased mind. If those in the federal government have been and are motivated to destroy liberty by ignoring the Constitution, then that same motivation will lead them to engage in unjust and unnecessary wars against people to which they have not even a slight connection or accountability.
If America truly is under constant attack by terrorists to the point that our individual liberty must diminish so security can increase; and if this War on Terror is so intense and formidable that it cannot be won by the world’s best military after 10 years of full engagement, how in the name of reason and experience do you expect individual States to win independence and maintain freedom without a military more effective and powerful than what the United States currently has?
Do you think having a few rifles and few thousand rounds of ammunition (as you gloat about the Second Amendment) equates to being able to defend your homeland against real internal and foreign invasion? Which political entity is going to aid your effort during that time? Who is going to supply your people food, water, and basic necessities? Which hospitals will treat your wounded and sick and deliver your women’s children? Will there be an economy in your State during that time of war? Does your State currently have military cache to supply “troops”? All of these will be answered in the negative. What hope of freedom is there in that?
Even a glossary study of the Federalist Papers reveals the already-proven fallacy of these unprepared union-dissolutionists’ arguments. Recall: one of the main reasons the States ratified the Constitution was because the States separated would not be capable of protecting themselves against foreign invasion. Given the number of wars we have engaged in our nation’s history, the number exponentially increasing as time passes, is there any reason to think a stronger military force than we have today will not be necessary in the future?
Moreover, the Federalists showed how States not connected by one union would be in natural positions and inclinations to combat each other for unilateral aggrandizement and power, even if that meant entering into foreign alliances. In so showing, the Federalists used dozens of historical examples of how federal unions dissolved and the individual States destroyed for lack of self-defense and self-sustenance capability.
If the people of America today believe we are living in similarly-ill or worse political conditions as 1786, our consideration for dissolution of the current union will require much more in-depth and practical analysis than what I see some union-dissolutionists advocating in pep-rally fashion.
Dissolution Preferred Over Amendment—Really?
Is it not strange that a person who says he loves the Constitution, the union, and freedom would promote dissolving the union (at what cost?) before amending the constitution to put our union on the correct course? Is it prudent and reasonable to advocate war before peaceful, political redress?
If amending the Constitution to preserve energetic and continual union under principles of liberty (see, Federalist Paper 17) is not an option, our Founders were mistaken to include Article 5 in the Constitution. On the contrary: their inclusion of Article 5 shows they knew there is a need to amend the Constitution over time to ensure a proper construction of the Constitution is rendered (e.g. USC, Amendment 11). Thomas Jefferson even advocated that the Constitution go to convention every twenty years so each generation can readdress it—some States in the union have such a constitutional provision.
Eliminating the option of amending the Constitution and putting in its place union dissolution and revolution demonstrates a close-minded view towards political science and deviates from our founding principles. It ultimately creates political upheaval and self-devastation. James Madison gives us a clear picture of the nature of written constitutions and laws in Federalist Paper 37 and demonstrates why amendments become necessary to reestablish first principles:
"The experience of ages, with the continued and combined labors of the most enlightened legislatures and jurists, has been equally unsuccessful in delineating the several objects and limits of different codes of laws and different tribunals of justice. The precise extent of the common law, and the statute law, the maritime law, the ecclesiastical law, the law of corporations, and other local laws and customs, remains still to be clearly and finally established in Great Britain, where accuracy in such subjects has been more industriously pursued than in any other part of the world.
"The jurisdiction of her several courts, general and local, of law, of equity, of admiralty, etc., is not less a source of frequent and intricate discussions, sufficiently denoting the indeterminate limits by which they are respectively circumscribed.
"All new laws, though penned with the greatest technical skill, and passed on the fullest and most mature deliberation, are considered as more or less obscure and equivocal, until their meaning be liquidated and ascertained by a series of particular discussions and adjudications [i.e. court decisions]. Besides the obscurity arising from the complexity of objects, and the imperfection of the human faculties, the medium through which the conceptions of men are conveyed to each other adds a fresh embarrassment. The use of words is to express ideas.
"Perspicuity, therefore, requires not only that the ideas should be distinctly formed, but that they should be expressed by words distinctly and exclusively appropriate to them. But no language is so copious as to supply words and phrases for every complex idea, or so correct as not to include many equivocally denoting different ideas. Hence it must happen that however accurately objects may be discriminated in themselves, and however accurately the discrimination may be considered, the definition of them may be rendered inaccurate by the inaccuracy of the terms in which it is delivered. And this unavoidable inaccuracy must be greater or less, according to the complexity and novelty of the objects defined".
James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, reveals the seeds of why constitutions are subject to interpretation and change over time. The cause is the nature of the thing itself. Or as philosopher Jean Rousseau said, “The body politic, as well as the human body, begins to die as soon as it is born, and carries in itself the causes of its own destruction.”
No statesman of our founding generation purported to know how the Constitution would be applied over time. Madison makes that expressly clear. At the same time, none suggested that dissolution be preferred before amendments.
Those who desire to maintain the union, peace, and liberty in America, ask yourself what Madison broached in 1787: is “the plan of the convention…found to depart from the republican character…[and thus] no longer defensible”? (James Madison, Federalist Paper 39). Who claims the Constitution is no longer defensible? If it is not defensible, why choose revolution over what the founding generation demonstrated regarding the Articles of Confederation: amend the Constitution. If it is defensible, why advocate dissolving it and summoning war before a peaceful redress option, located in the Constitution itself, is explored?
Our union’s history shows how our first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, was being violated repeatedly by both Congress and the States. Interestingly, the violations by Congress were deemed not as evil but as necessary to keep the union together. However, the States’ violations were deemed the cause of needing an amendment to the Articles. Madison says in Federalist Paper 38 concerning these extra-constitutional actions,
“I mean not…to throw censure on the measures which have been pursued by Congress. I am sensible they could not have done otherwise. The public interest, the necessity of the case, imposed upon them the task of overleaping their constitutional limits.”
The solution of extra-constitutional actions was not dissolution of the union and revolution. Instead, the people revisited the terms upon which the union operated so the court’s interpretation of the Constitution would “prevent an appeal to the sword and a dissolution of the compact” (James Madison, Federalist Paper 39). So, you say the federal courts have distorted constitutional meaning. I say, amend the Constitution to help prevent such distortion, just as the Eleventh amendment (passed 1795) demonstrates.
Being a patriot does not mean advocating dissolution of the union where the States are not prepared to feed, much less protect themselves. This is unwise and irresponsible advice and does not qualify as statesmanship. Moreover, the federal government is not moved by such idle threats.
If we truly believe the Constitution is no longer followed and that our general welfare would be more greatly benefited by dissolution, then the States should become practically sovereign first, and not theoretically sovereign. Until then, I suggest the terms of the union be the focal point of discussion, not dissolution and war.
© 2012 Timothy N. Baldwin, JD