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Is secession inevitable for our divided nation?

Posted 9/11/12

By Frank Ryan

In the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, our founding fathers wrote, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, …

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Is secession inevitable for our divided nation?


Have we lost the leadership that our nation needs in order to remain relevant?

At stake in the 2012 election is the very character of the nation we love. While unanimous consent is unlikely, the general framework of any nation must be acceptable to most for a society to survive and flourish.

When I ran for Congress in 2010, I was often asked by prospective supporters my stance on various issues – predominately abortion, the Patriot Act, the Affordable Care Act and property taxes, to name a few. In each case the prospective supporter would mention that their position was nonnegotiable and they wanted to know my views.  Voters have a right to do that.

A wise friend of mine who is a state senator has often said, “If you agree with me most of the time, please support me. If you agree with me 100 percent of the time, seek psychological help.”

The significance of this admonition is that more and more voters are finding that the great divide is greater than ever, such that compromise is unlikely.

When there was a tremendous great divide in the 1800s, a civil war ensued when the southern states attempted to secede from the union. While many people will argue that the Civil War was about slavery, many people also argue that the Civil War was about states’ rights.   Whatever the reasons, the nation floundered and ended in war.

In my travels throughout the U.S., I see a sectional divide that may not be capable of peaceful resolution.

Unlike the Civil War, the battle lines seem to be drawn on issues of personal freedoms versus governmental prerogatives. This battle line is not to be taken for granted.

Being forced to pay the pensions of GM and Chrysler workers, when the workers making the tax payments do not have pensions themselves, is creating more friction than one can imagine.

A similar divide is occurring with the Affordable Care Act. Most people concede that the health care system was broken and needed to be fixed. A majority of Americans object to being forced to buy health insurance under threat of  Internal Revenue Service action. It is seen as an unacceptable solution and a true loss of freedom to many.

The Tea Party organizers started as a result of the way the health care bill was forced through Congress because of Democratic majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate and with a Democratic president.

Similar abuses have occurred under prior administrations, but the theme is that our elected leaders have been accused of representing a party or a special interest and not the American people they are elected to serve.

Occupy Wall Street organizers are disenchanted due to alleged tax benefits for wealthy individuals on the other side of the great divide. 

This dichotomy translates into more and more polarization. Unfortunately, the problems facing our nation are real. If the problems are not dealt with soon, it will lead to chaos and eventual failure of the great experiment known as the United States.

Has the time come in our nation when the divide is so great that perhaps we can no longer remain a nation as we now know it? Have our divisions becomes so great that we are now the divided states? 

If a referendum were held today, would citizens of various states choose to join a nation with the same U.S. Constitution but interpreted as they see fit?

Will one choose a personal freedoms theme of government versus another choosing government-sponsored solutions?

States are neither barred nor allowed to secede from the U.S. Apparently, only by mutual agreement there can be secession.

While this argument may seem academic, the need to discuss secession is critical because if a great compromise is not found between the needs of those seeking personal freedom and those believing in the expanded role of government, this grand experiment of ours is going to fail.

Failure and collapse of the nation are a real possibility due to the financial crisis we have at hand. The trite expression “United we stand, divided we fall” is not trite at all during times of crisis.

Our nation is in crisis.

I encourage all of us to consider the nation we want, the nation we would like to be, the road to get there, and the sacrifices of the millions of Americans who died to secure this grand experiment for us all.

We are about to lose this grand experiment, unless we can come to a successful resolution of our differences. Secession may be far more attractive than failure.

Frank Ryan is a CPA in Lebanon and a retired Marine Corps colonel who served in the Middle East. He specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics for state CPA societies.