Tuesday, September 30, 2014

(Related update 2): Scottish Independence: Yea or Nay?

Related update 2: The flagship publication of the Foundation for Economic Education is The Freeman and last week -- in the aftermath of the Scottish vote for Independence -- they ran two interesting articles on the topic of secession which warrant a second update to this thread.

In the first article, Doug Bandow puts the idea of secession in the United States in an historical context and persuasively argues that it's an idea that ought to be a lively aspect of political discourse in today's America.  The second article, by Steve Patterson, outlines three important lessons and implications of the Scottish secession effort for political discussion in America.  Here's the first:
1. Secession is a legitimate political topic.In the United States, even mentioning the word “secession” is taboo. People assume you’re either nuts or a racist. They shouldn’t. Secession is a well-established political action, and it’s unwise to dismiss the idea out of hand. After all, the United States was founded by an act of secession from England.
The idea makes sense: If people do not believe their government represents them, they have a right to create their own. If you support the idea of self-governance, you must support the right to secede. At least 45 percent of the voters in Scotland (a great majority of them younger than 25 years old) don’t feel well represented in Westminster; it’s no surprise they wanted a change.
Millions of Americans don’t feel well represented in Washington, D.C. The possibility of secession, however small, should remain on the table. It’s time we stop acting like it’s a nonsensical idea. But the United States doesn’t have the greatest track record on secession, which brings me to point No. 2.
Click here to read points 2 and 3 of this excellent article.

Related update (9/19/14): In a close, but ultimately not surprising, outcome the Scottish bid for independence came up short yesterday (46% v. 54%).  But secession is in the air all over Europe and here in America, a much larger percentage of citizens are open to secession talk than probably since the time of the American Revolution.  Indeed, as the result of a recent poll reported by Reuters show:
The failed Scottish vote to pull out from the United Kingdom stirred secessionist hopes for some in the United States, where almost a quarter of people are open to their states leaving the union, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found.  Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.
The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.
My blogging hero, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, likes to poo-poo such talk and prefers to advocate for a return to the Federalism that was the original basis of our constituion and the guiding political philosophy of most of The Founders.  In fact, he has an article in the USA Today on that very topic:
 So what's a solution? Let the central government do the things that only central governments can do -- national defense, regulation of trade to keep the provinces from engaging in economic warfare with one another, protection of basic civil rights -- and then let the provinces go their own way in most other issues. Don't like the way things are run where you are? Move to a province that's more to your taste. Meanwhile, approaches that work in individual provinces can, after some experimentation, be adopted by the central government, thus lowering the risk of adopting untested policies at the national level. You get the benefits of secession without seceding.
I agree in principle, of course, that Federalism is the way to go.  But after 120 years of Progressives and big government advocates shredding the Constitution and morphing our country into something The Founders wouldn't recognize, is it realistic to think we can change the direction of the country back towards the very ideas and principles the Progressives so hate? No.  The only course, as I see it, for those citizens and states that want the America of the Founding back is to leave the America of Now and start anew.  We have the blueprint on how to go about it -- they're our Founding Documents. But there is no way around it:  getting from here to there is going to mean secession in some form or another.

Original post (9/18/14):  Today, a momentous event takes place: the citizens of Scotland are voting whether or not to leave the United Kingdom and become their own separate country.  If you're looking for a (relatively) short primer on the history of the Scottish independence movement along with some detailed analysis of the pros and cons of independence, look no farther than this article from Hit and Run, Reason.org's weblog.  Here's the concluding paragraph where the author shows his preference:
From afar, though, I hope "yes" wins the day, because I also think Scotland's robust civic culture would make a fair fist of independence. The socialism would evaporate, sure, but the country would not fall prey to the "resource curse"so common among small, oil-rich nations. That Scotland gifted the world the skeptical Enlightenment would stand it in good stead. Its current inhabitants may prove themselves worthy heirs to Adam Smith, David Hume, and all the rest.
The folks at the Cato Institute have, as always, some very astute comments and observations about Scottish independence, including this article that points out the destructive impact it would have on socialism in the UK in general.  Which is, of course, good.