It’s almost always an issue when people get excited and get their hopes up. This is an idea deeply rooted in Buddhism, and basically stems from the notion that, if you do not expect any particular thing to happen, then you cannot be disappointed. The contention–one I agree with–is that this discord between a person’s expectations and reality (how things actually turn out) is the root of unhappiness. Though I’ve never read Tolle and, from what I’ve heard, have no interest in doing so, a friend of mine swears by Tolle and says very similar things–it is our awareness of future that tears us out of the moment, out of the present.
So when I see lots of people eager to see #CalExit, it worries me. Mass expectations can be particularly dangerous, as we’ve seen post-election with how people who firmly expected Hillary’s victory have reacted to President Trump. There’s a reason that “the masses” came to be a pejorative, after all. Expectations in one person produce unhappiness; expectations in masses of people produce despair and hostility. After all, misery loves company. Get two of these miserable people whose expectations didn’t sync with reality in a room, and they’ll start bitching to each other about how things didn’t work out, steadily escalating their unhappiness until it’s ready to boil over.
So California is going to have a referendum to decide whether or not California should secede from the United States. That’s neat, and I supported the secession petitions in 2012. I do not, however, support California’s–or any of the others that will rise up in the near future–but I’ve explained my reasoning before. The fact that we had secession talk in 2012 and 2016 is as close to proof as we can get that what is making people angry and uncomfortable is that the Federal Government rules with an iron fist over the fifty states, usurping state sovereignty and telling the states what they can and can’t do. Conservatives talked secession in 2012 because they were tired of Obama pushing a liberal agenda onto conservative states. Liberals talk secession in 2016 because they are weary of Trump pushing a conservative agenda onto liberal states. And though I did hope otherwise, Trump and conservatives are demonstrating that they are not willing to allow states–or even cities–to govern themselves, thus violating the very essence of conservatism–and are happy to force conservative immigration stances onto every state and city.
California will never be allowed to secede.
I think California should be allowed to secede, if they so choose. I think it’s a bad move; it is my position that CalExit is the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to drive in a nail, or burning down a house to kill a spider. It’s a severe overreaction to a situation that isn’t actually that hard to fix. It alarms me that California and liberals find it easier, and more appealing, to withdraw from the United States than to simply curb the power of the federal government. But if they want to do it, they obviously should be able to, and, in the long-run, I think it could easily be a good thing. I don’t think it will work out quite the way that giddy Californians expect it to work out, but details have ever been the bane of political movements. My personal thoughts about California’s secession aren’t important; I just wanted to get it out of the way that I’m not speaking from a biased position when I say that…
California will never be allowed to secede.
Obama replied to the 2012 secession petitions in a way that is disgusting and immoral, basically stating that we are governed by the dead. The founders, and then people more than a century ago, decided something, and we today are stuck with their decision and can’t undo it. That is, as Thomas Paine wrote in The Rights of Man, the most insolent of tyrannies. We cannot demand accountability of the dead, and we cannot demand they explain themselves. They’re dead. Yet their edicts carry on and command us, not simply because we haven’t bothered to repeal them, but because the highest levels of our government inform us that we cannot repeal them. This is all the more jarring because Obama’s response explicitly referred to self-governance, which is, of course, the idea that we govern ourselves, and certainly conflicts with being governed by dead people. However, here is Obama’s response to the 2012 secession petitions, which he replied to collectively instead of individually:
In a nation of 300 million people — each with their own set of deeply-held beliefs — democracy can be noisy and controversial. And that’s a good thing. Free and open debate is what makes this country work, and many people around the world risk their lives every day for the liberties we often take for granted.
But as much as we value a healthy debate, we don’t let that debate tear us apart.
Our founding fathers established the Constitution of the United States “in order to form a more perfect union” through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. They enshrined in that document the right to change our national government through the power of the ballot — a right that generations of Americans have fought to secure for all. But they did not provide a right to walk away from it. As President Abraham Lincoln explained in his first inaugural address in 1861, “in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual.” In the years that followed, more than 600,000 Americans died in a long and bloody civil war that vindicated the principle that the Constitution establishes a permanent union between the States. And shortly after the Civil War ended, the Supreme Court confirmed that “[t]he Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States.”
Although the founders established a perpetual union, they also provided for a government that is, as President Lincoln would later describe it, “of the people, by the people, and for the people” — all of the people. Participation in, and engagement with, government is the cornerstone of our democracy. And because every American who wants to participate deserves a government that is accessible and responsive, the Obama Administration has created a host of new tools and channels to connect concerned citizens with White House. In fact, one of the most exciting aspects of the We the People platform is a chance to engage directly with our most outspoken critics.
So let’s be clear: No one disputes that our country faces big challenges, and the recent election followed a vigorous debate about how they should be addressed. As President Obama said the night he won re-election, “We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future.”
Whether it’s figuring out how to strengthen our economy, reduce our deficit in a responsible way, or protect our country, we will need to work together — and hear from one another — in order to find the best way to move forward.
So, you see, according to liberal superstar Barack Obama, we aren’t governed by any sitting president; we’re governed by Abraham Lincoln. Never mind the fact that Lincoln is dead; he still governs us, and we cannot go against Fuhrer Lincoln’s wishes, and Lincoln notoriously wanted the union to be kept whole (it was, after all, his motivation for… pretty much everything he did). See, the Supreme Court that existed 150 years ago has more authority than the Supreme Court today, as our modern Supreme Court can’t undo what this past Supreme Court decided. So Trump’s appointment of Gorsuch is kinda irrelevant, because we don’t really govern ourselves anyway.
This response is filled with nonsense. It is appalling, but it is also our government’s official position on secession. In fact, after the Civil War, each state in the union wrote into their Constitutions that they did not have the right to secede; California has already stated that it does not have the right to secede. It doesn’t matter that my position is that a free people have the right to govern themselves, and that they can, with only the stroke of a pen, sever the tyrannical reaches of the dead, because the federal government has ruled otherwise, and has a bloody history of addressing the issues when–how shall we say–a free people disagree with the federal government’s position.
So this will play out a few different possible ways. The first is that someone in the Californian government addresses the matter before it actually reaches a ballot, and tells the people of California that they can’t secede. This, I think, is the more likely outcome. What Californians do from there will be worth watching, but I do not believe they have it in them to fight their state government. They’ll protest and march in the streets, but nothing will come of it.
Alternatively, the ballot could go through, and California will vote against secession. This is the second most likely outcome, as it’s been observed since before Brexit that liberals are predominantly against independence and prefer cohesion and powerful central governments. If the European Union went “hard conservative,” would the Brexit roles have been reversed, with liberals primarily voting in favor of Brexit? I think not, because that doesn’t appear to be how liberals function. No matter how bad the situation gets, their answer appears to always be “more central government.” If they didn’t function that way, then they wouldn’t still be liberals, because central governments have really made a mess of things in recent decades. The majority liberal position is likely to be “We’ll stick it out, because at some point we’ll have control again, and then we can exact our punishment onto conservatives!”
If, by some miracle, CalExit receives a ballot and people vote for California to secede, it will be stopped almost immediately by the Californian Congress, for reasons I detailed above–they will point out that California doesn’t have the right to secede. Again, what happens next could be interesting, but I don’t believe anything truly of consequence will follow. As I’ve said before, liberal protestors are terrific at getting the public’s attention, but are abysmal at turning that attention into effective action for change.
Even more unlikely is that California votes to secede, and the state government starts taking steps for that to happen. We probably think it would never happen in today’s world, but we’ve seen this play out already. People will go “Oh, but the south was just being racist, so of course they couldn’t be allowed to secede! This is totally different!” But it isn’t. It’s exactly the same question–whether states govern themselves or whether the federal government governs the states. The answer, as Obama’s White House put it, has already been decided, and he was quick to remind us that the federal government is not above killing half a million Americans to keep its power.
Just as Lincoln didn’t allow the south to secede peacefully–I don’t think the Confederacy had a choice but to kick the union out of Fort Sumter, as it was a threat to the Confederacy’s sovereignty–neither will Trump allow California, or any other Democratic states, to secede. This is Trump that they are placing their trust in, we must remember. Lincoln didn’t have the principles and wisdom to simply allow the south to secede, and they expect Trump to have the principles and wisdom to allow California to secede? That is a lot of trust to place in someone like Trump.
It’s only just possible that Trump will laugh, and say, “If they want to secede, let them.” It’s a possibility; it’s not a likely scenario. And even if conservatives throughout the country agree with that sentiment, that’s a far cry from the federal government, which 150 years ago killed 600,000 people and launched America’s deadliest war, allowing California’s secession. If it gets to this point–which itself is terribly unlikely–I have little doubt that the United States will invade the Republic of California. The absolute best outcome for California is that it becomes a colony similar to the Philippines, but we are being looney if we think the federal government will uproot its military bases, missile silos, strategic missile defense system, and other military activities in California. We are being silly if we think that the Federal Government that has long enjoyed the authority of telling everyone else what to do, will simply shrug and watch California–part of the same landmass (I think there is some possibility that Hawaii or Alaska could be allowed to peacefully secede).
In regard to that, I disagree with the idea. Mexico is part of the same landmass, and so is Canada, but neither of those are required to be part of the United States. It would be a logistics nightmare if some central state wanted to secede, but even then there’s no good “part of the same landmass” argument that would justifiably prevent it. If Canada can be part of the same landmass and not part of the United States, I see no reason that California, Texas, Mississippi, or any other state can’t do that, but this is an argument I heard against the 2012 secession petitions.
The end result is the same in all these outcomes, even if we arrive at them through wildly different means: California will never be allowed to secede. The United States will persist until the entire thing dissolves.