Sunday, July 24, 2022


 Weekly Opinion Editorial


by Steve Fair


     Is the U.S. headed for a second civil war?  Will America survive or will the country break up?  In a survey taken in the Fall of 2021 by the University of Virginia, 50% of Trump supporters and 40% of Biden supporters believed the country should spilt up along red and blue lines. 

     At their recent state convention, the Texas Republican Party voted to formally endorse a referendum (state question) on Texas seceding from the United States.  The resolution asks the Texas state legislature to put the issue on the 2023 ballot. 

     Texas is the only state in American history to hold a statewide vote on secession.  A vote to secede from the United States happened in 1861, when Texans voted overwhelmingly to join the Confederacy.  Other states that seceded to form the Confederacy relied on their state legislatures to proclaim their departure from the union, but not Texas.  Texas was an independent country when they joined the union and that fact fuels complicated legal debates on whether the Lone Star state can constitutionally break away from the United States.  The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia believed secession was settled by the Civil War and that no state (including Texas) has a right to secede from the union.  Three observations:

     First, secession is not a new idea.  As early as the 1790s, states were trying to break away from the union.  Kentucky, Virginia and other states attempted to leave the union in 1798.  South Carolina, the first state to secede over the slavery issue, threatened to pull out in 1828 over the issue of tariffs when Andrew Jackson was president.  The Palmetto state also threatened to leave over the issue of California’s statehood.  James Madison, the father of the Constitution, said the document does not allow for a state to pull out of the union- without the approval of the other states.  There is no ‘no fault’ divorce provision in the Constitution.

     Second, secession is not a good idea.  When a state becomes a separate country, it presents a whole new set of challenges.  Founding documents must be drafted and a form of government established.  Dealing with those in the new country who were opposed to secession becomes a major issue.  National defense, currency, and a myriad of other things must be addressed.  It takes more work to start a country than to reform one.    

     Third, the political divide in America is widening.  There are few political issues the two major political Parties agree on.  Positions on abortion and same sex marriage dissect the country.  Fiscal policy is fractured.  Debate over gun rights and the Second Amendment hold sway.  Common ground is crumbling.  Red (conservative) and blue (liberal) states are fractured along ideology lines.   

     The Bible says two can’t walk together unless they be in agreement.  Discord and division reign.  If common ground can’t be found- and quick- dissolution of the union is inevitable, whether it be by secession or a second civil war.    

     Before he was POTUS, in 1858, Abraham Lincoln famously quoted Matthew 12:25 in a speech to the Illinois Republican Party: A house divided against itself cannot stand.  The speech is one of Lincoln’s most well-known speeches and it seems relevant for today.

     Whether a house stands or falls depends on the commitment of the inhabitants in the house.  They must agree on the fundamentals/principles that govern the house.   When half of U.S. believes the country should dissolve, there is clearly a lack of commitment to keep the house intact.  In order for the union to survive, Americans must unite on what America is- indivisible and founded on liberty and justice for all.


1 comment:

mateojose1 said...

What I would like to see, instead of continued dangerous talk about secession, is this:

1) A focus on the horrors of the Civil War, to serve as an object lesson as to why secession is a bad idea.
2) An overview of the history of the Kingdom of Poland, particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries when foreign powers regularly meddled in its internal affairs--and which culminated in the three partitions that ended its existence until after World War I. As well, an overview of the Troubles in Northern Ireland would be helpful for understanding the dangers of a long-term, low-level insurgency.
3) An admission that we agree to that we disagree on certain things (such as abortion, same sex marriage, immigration, and gun rights), and that we're likely not going to agree.
4) The GOP to repudiate talk of widespread voter fraud during the 2020 presidential, and to condemn (if not expel) any of its politicians who buy into those claims: There was very little, and Joe Biden won fair and square. Likewise for the Democrats, if any of their politicians back claims about voter fraud or unfair elections.
5) Lessons on media and information literacy, including making sure that information we get is both credible and unbiased (rather than someone's opinion, or propaganda, or disinformation, or other forms of misinformation), being very careful about information we see on social media, and not sharing something if we have any doubts as to its credibility. And, above all, to recognize that, if we hear or read something in the news, we just got manipulated by someone else.
6) Agreeing that, if one side wins an election, the other side accept the results rather than claim fraud, rejecting them, or threatening secession. And, if there are accusations of voter fraud, to have a non-partisan group investigate to get to the bottom of things, as happened in North Carolina.
7) Understanding that we are better off together: Just as America needs California for things like IT, movies, agriculture, great universities, and other things it produces, we also need Texas (it has lots of energy, great universities, and lots of cattle, among many other things). And, the same goes for the other 48 states and how important they are to the Union. Indeed, Washington was right in his "Farewell Address" when he wrote about how we all need each other, plus, regardless of how much we disagree, we are all Americans, rather than simply Democrats, Republicans, or Independents (or any other party or label).
8) The American people should repudiate any politician who refuses to accept the results of a free and fair election in this country, and should send them into the political wilderness, regardless of their political affiliation.
9) We should all recognize that foreign powers (such as China and Russia) do not have our best interests in mind, and would very much like for us to fight over culture war-related issues (and even have things like communication break-downs or even more serious problems) rather than tackling real issues that have solutions (such as expensive health care, bad roads and bridges, low teacher pay, expensive college education, and the like). And, they are not afraid to meddle in our elections, media discourse, or social media sites to do so.
10) Understanding that none of the sides in American politics will ever agree, but that, oftentimes, the best solution to problems can be found somewhere in between.