Michael Badnarik: The right of secession

2004 Libertarian Presidential candidate Michael Badnarik in Liberty for All:

Over the years I have developed a reputation for being a “constitutional expert”. (Referring to myself as “The Stepfather of the Constitution” admittedly may have something to do with that.) Two of the questions that I am asked quite often are: “Didn’t the outcome of the “Civil War” prove secession is not an option for any State?” and “Doesn’t the Texas Constitution reserve the right of Texas to secede?” I’m not sure why these misconceptions persist, but allow me to attempt to shatter these myths once again.

The Declaration of Independence is an excellent summary about why any government is created in the first place. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Let’s analyze the flow of political power described here. “Governments are instituted among Men…” We the People created Congress (and the rest of the federal government) when the Constitution was ratified. It has been a maxim of law predating the Magna Carta (signed in 1215) that, “the creator is always more powerful than the created”. Bill Cosby jokes about threatening his children with, “I brought you into this world… I can take you out!” Although Mr. Cosby’s threat was an idle one, We the People can literally dissolve any level of government if we have the political will do to so. That’s what the Founding Fathers meant when they wrote, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

Read the rest of this entry »

35 thoughts on “Michael Badnarik: The right of secession

  1. NewFederalist

    Stepfather of the Constitution? Sheesh… perhaps I should have voted for Peroutka.

  2. Joe Keg

    My constitution has a creepy uncle, but he’s not allowed anywhere within 1,000 yards of it.

  3. Bryan

    This guy did a “constitution class” in my area recently, and I nearly joined other libertarians in going…but a few weeks prior to his “lecture” he did a radio interview promoting it, and I thought better of the idea.

    The announcer asked a simple…non-agressive…question….’what qualifications do you have to teach a class on the constitution?’…

    It really caught him off guard, and the response was something like…I did something similar for friends, and a small audience and they suggested I do it on a larger scale…(paraphrasing)

    Unlike many of his “students” I have read the constitution, federalist papers, and the anti-federalist papers….but I still might learn something from any of a few thousand poli-sci or history grads….this guy…not so much…….

  4. Robert Capozzi

    mb: The northern states simultaneously argue that the south never left the union – AND that the southern states were reunited with the union under the Reconstruction Act. (If they never left, there would be no requirement for them to be reunited!)

    me: Lord, help me. The US invoked the insurrection clause to put down an attempt to invent a legal process for seceding to, in part, maintain slavery. To refer to the aftermath a “Reconstruction” seems, um, accurate, given the carnage that the Confederate Elites triggered.

    mb: The argument that “states are not allowed to secede” can be quickly eliminated by pointing out that our Declaration of Independence is a secession document.

    me: Yes, one can quickly label a color that is not blue “red,” but if it’s yellow, it seems rather foolish to do so. Not all “secessions” are equal. It’s impossible to avoid normative characterizations. The American Revolution increased liberty, so we (that is, I) approve of it. The Confederate Elite Insurrection was designed to maintain slavery, so we (that is, I) disapprove of it. With no mitigating circumstances in evidence, I’ll stand by that.

  5. MarcMontoni

    Ah, yes… The inevitable. The robotic, predictable, to-the-winner-go-the-spoils, government propagandistic response about Lincoln’s war being about slavery….

    Paulie, can’t we just add a script to the site that would automatically add one of the previously posted rote-recalled essays from the above individual any time the words “secession”, “civil war”, Lincoln”, etc appears on IPR, so that the above writer needn’t bother and so the rest of us can easily skip over such rehashing of government propaganda?

  6. paulie Post author

    It’s an argument that we’ve had here a number of times.

    The last thing I said the last time it came up was that the north should have seceded from the south first, over the fugitive slave laws. DC was surrounded by slave states, and all slave states would have remained as the US. The states where slavery was already outlawed at that point could then have formed an independent confederation with a new capital, and each territory could have decided which country to join.

    Since I don’t think slavery could have lasted even as long as it did without the fugitive slave laws being in effect, perhaps the two would have reunited – provided that Mr. Capozzi is correct that slavery was the only reason for the two halves of the country to split.

    Had they stayed divided, I think the world as a whole would have been better off.

    On the procedural question, quite aside from the motives for secession, I do think states have the constitutional right to leave the union. Some states, including some that seceded, actually only joined the union in the first place on that condition, including Badnarik’s example, Texas.

    I also think anti-slavery counties in slave states, such as Winston Co. Alabama and the counties that went on to form West Virginia, should have been able to secede from their states, and that individual slaves should have been able to “secede” (escape) from their captors.

    As I’ve said before, in an election between Abe Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, my vote would be for Lysander Spooner.

  7. AroundtheblockAFT

    The Confederacy seceeded because they wanted no interference with slavery. The North went to war to preserve the Union, not end slavery.
    The right to seceed in this case only was settled by force of arms. I think the right still exists and libertarians would support secession for the right reasons.
    Lincoln’s rationale can be boiled down to showing the world that a republic (less than 100 years old at the time) could hold itself together in a world of monarchies, tyrants, and other liberty-denying forms of government.
    Depending on the reasons, secession today could be seen as liberty-affirming!

  8. George Phillies

    @3

    Badnarik wrote a book with his opinions of the Constitution. I did a line by line analysis on LibertyForAll.net. Badnarik’s ignorance of the Constitution is astonishing. I will go no farther than his claim that the President is only commander-in-chief of the armed forces during times of war.

  9. Robert Capozzi

    mm6: The robotic, predictable, to-the-winner-go-the-spoils, government propagandistic response about Lincoln’s war being about slavery….

    me: Robotic? Hmm, maybe, but since my take is quite a bit different from the conventional understanding, I would not agree. I could say the same about the revisionist take on the Civil War, but I’m not sure how that would advance understanding. Again, it was not just “Lincoln’s War.” Consider whether you are buying the propaganda of Lincoln-as-omnipotent-despot churned out by revisionists. Then check the record of widespread support in Congress for the insurrection interpretation of the attempt of some state politicians to secede. I’m confident you will find that many on both sides through war was righteous and justified. Or, continue to view the Conderate Elite Insurrection like a comic-book tale…your choice.

    p7: ….provided that Mr. Capozzi is correct that slavery was the only reason for the two halves of the country to split.

    me: Nope, never said that. Maintaining slavery was A primary motive, based on the written record.

    @4, for ex., I said “…invent a legal process for seceding to, in part, maintain slavery.”

    We may disagree on much of what is to be learned from the events of 1861-65, but I can generally count on you, P, to be fair. Did you miss the “in part” phrase?

  10. paulie Post author

    business plan services short essay on friendship viagra revenge stories go to link go thesis writing service reviews source site dangers of generic cialis watch https://nyusternldp.blogs.stern.nyu.edu/cv-for-phd-application-example-uk/ service hours essay https://lajudicialcollege.org/forall/research-thesis-writing/16/ follow link maintenance services business plan enter https://grad.cochise.edu/college/term-paper-how-to/20/ click https://unsdn.org/2020/how-can-i-increase-my-leadership-skills/70/ source buy research papers online no plagiarism https://scfcs.scf.edu/review/i-need-help-with-a-resume/22/ get link where to buy viagra buy cheap essay papers https://coveringthecorridor.com/rxonline/buy-generic-viagra-india/43/ go essay writing on my favourite dish biryani here good thesis for music https://thedsd.com/how-to-embed-quotes-in-essays/ an essay on man sparknotes legal writing service p7: ….provided that Mr. Capozzi is correct that slavery was the only reason for the two halves of the country to split.

    me: Nope, never said that. Maintaining slavery was A primary motive, based on the written record.

    My apologies; you are correct about that.

  11. Robert Capozzi

    numbers off in my last comment…make that mm5, p6.

    atbaft7: Depending on the reasons, secession today could be seen as liberty-affirming!

    me: That is a separate question, IMO. I prefer the term “Self Determination” over “Secession,” since the latter is associated with ugliness for me and most Americans. I completely agree with the concept of Self Determination being righteous. I don’t give those engaged in Self Determination efforts a blank check, however, and I’d be surprised if most Ls would, either. The motive behind the SD effort matters, and do the means to achieving SD.

    For ex., if the Manson Family claimed SD, I would not support that. You?

  12. George Phillies

    @10 No slavery, no Insurrection of the Slaveholders. However, WHY did the Slaveholders revolt when they did? We’d had slavery for some time. A good explanation is in Potter’s Crisis:
    National parties that had to please North and South became Regional Parties
    Northerners thought secession threats were bluster.
    Southerners were so wound up in their rhetoric they didn’t notice Lincoln would support the Crittenden compromise, which would have avoided matters.
    list of other reasons that made old solutions non-reusable.

  13. AroundtheblockAFT

    SIL had, many years ago, a pamphlet on the Right of Self-Determination. As i recall, it concluded that RSD is a neutral term, like greed, or freedom or independence that can only be judged by knowing what it is the advocate is seeking to do with his RSD, or freedom.
    Case in point: The Egyptians want” freedom” from Mubarak to do what? Install the Egyptian Thomas Jefferson at the head of a constitutional republic? To install sharia law and oppress women? To elect a harsh socialist regime that nationalizes all private business?

  14. paulie Post author

    WHY did the Slaveholders revolt when they did?

    1) Issue of expanding slavery into the territories remained unresolved.

    2) Republican Party won the election and the South was afraid that would mean western territories would be admitted to the union as free states, throwing off their compromise/balance.

    3) One of the first acts the Republican congress passed was the harshest tariff up to that point in US history. I know that this issue was not mentioned in the southern resolutions for secession, but in IPR comments on a previous post langa suggests one possible explanation: the issue was too complicated to rally people around.

    4) Ft. Sumter included a customs house, which enforced that tariff.

    5) Lincoln proposed to enshrine slavery permanently in the Constitution with a new amendment so as to preserve the union. Perhaps the slaveowning aristocracy just didn’t trust him to follow through.

  15. Alaska Constitution Party

    While we advocate political self determination. We do NOT advocate the secession of Alaska from the Union, although that always remains a possible option, contrary to federal and state officials. It is hoped that any self-governing political subdivision/populace that chooses independence would seek greater liberty, not less freedom. In other words, we do not support the abuse of constitutional means and elections to eventually overturn the rule of law and the undermining of the very election system and process that brings a party to power. History if replete with such examples to avoid…

  16. paulie Post author

    @ 17

    Being from Siberia originally, I’ve thought for a while that it might make sense for Siberia to secede from Russia, Alaska from the US, and then form a new Siberian-Alaskan nation. What do you think?

  17. Alaska Constitution Party

    “is” replete

    We need look no further than our own two “Big Box” parties in the U.S. to see the potential for corruption and abuse of power. Decay from within the republic, and betrayal of the people by our elite, is an ever present danger. It is only an educated, motivated and involved public that can reverse this process.

  18. Alaska Constitution Party

    Of course, reverse is perhaps the wrong way to view this dynamic. In actuality, it is the counterbalance of competing power interests and the divided powers of government that are the genius of our system when properly understood and adhered to by our culture. We need to strengthen our culture of liberty and self-governance here. It is sad to say, but until we really embrace truly free and fair elections, we have little to teach other countries.

  19. paulie Post author

    I would like to see a trans Siberian-Alaskan transportation corridor that would facilitate trade and communication between our people.

    I was trying to do a master’s thesis on the environmental and socioeconomic risks, costs and benefits of that back in the 90s, but kept running into missing records and information. It eventually dawned on me that I was attempting to do the equivalent of a $5 million (minimum) research study for a college study project, a logistical impossibility.

  20. Robert Capozzi

    p18: …then form a new Siberian-Alaskan nation. What do you think?

    me: I think you’re opening yourself up to the charge of “evil statist.” 😉

  21. Robert Capozzi

    around15: The Egyptians want” freedom” from Mubarak to do what? Install the Egyptian Thomas Jefferson at the head of a constitutional republic? To install sharia law and oppress women? To elect a harsh socialist regime that nationalizes all private business?

    me: Yes, precisely. But I would suggest we separate what we think is the optimal course for the US vis a vis Egypt vs. how we assess the unfolding revolution in Egypt. In my case, I would like to see US policy be to remain neutral, to begin a graceful exit from being intertwined in Egyptian affairs, including racheting down financial aid. To the extent possible, how we exit should be done carefully, since I do not wish to see Egypt become a theocracy, for ex.

    I don’t really see the situation in Egypt as a matter of self-determination per se, by the way. It’s not a colony, although it seems that the US has bought influence there.

  22. paulie Post author

    I think you’re opening yourself up to the charge of “evil statist.”

    Evil incrementalist. My long term goal remains anarchy.

    It could be a loose confederation with overlapping local authority, along the lines of medieval Ireland and Iceland.

    Also, nation could be taken to mean anarchic territory with some degree of social/cultural cohesion.

  23. paulie Post author

    The Egyptians want” freedom” from Mubarak to do what? Install the Egyptian Thomas Jefferson at the head of a constitutional republic? To install sharia law and oppress women? To elect a harsh socialist regime that nationalizes all private business?

    and

    To the extent possible, how we exit should be done carefully, since I do not wish to see Egypt become a theocracy, for ex.

    There might be more direct ways American libertarians can insure more optimal outcomes in Egypt than to lobby the US government, over which we have very little influence. Things are coming together on that front already. More on that in upcoming posts.

  24. paulie Post author

    I don’t really see the situation in Egypt as a matter of self-determination per se, by the way. It’s not a colony, although it seems that the US has bought influence there.

    A lot of influence, yes.

    But I think what was meant was self-determination for Egyptian people vis a vis their government, not just self-determination of Egypt vs the US.

  25. Robert Capozzi

    p6: The last thing I said the last time it came up was that the north should have seceded from the south first, over the fugitive slave laws.

    me: There were a lot of “should haves” and “should not haves.” The nation should have ended slavery before it began. The northern states should not have instituted protectionist measures. The south should have pressed for an explicit power to secede in the Constitution. Lincoln should not have alienated the border states after the SC and deep-south state elites invented a procedural power to secede. The elites in SC should not have fired on Ft. Sumter. Lincoln should not have overstepped his authority, as he did in many, many ways.

    We agree that the imperfect humans at the time made mistakes — I’d say many, many mistakes.

    We can look back on these tragic mistakes, and attempt to learn from them. Or, we can repeat them, if in slightly different forms. One huge mistake that was made is that the Constitution is sometimes very vague. 10A, for ex., could be extremely broadly interpreted as meaning that the states are empowered to secede, and to do so unilaterally without ANY consideration. OTOH, the insurrection clause can be invoked to put down attempts of a state (or individual!) to secede.

    Can we stipulate that the word “secede” or anything like it is NOT in the Constitution?

    The CSA secession was an extreme act. It met with — surprise — an extreme response. Is this surprising to anyone? Do we have anything to learn from this episode, e.g., extremism, when made manifest, represents an invitation for an extreme response? By extension, extreme ideas conjure up our collective knowledge about extreme action, and so extreme ideas are almost always dismissed by the masses…with good reason!

  26. Mark

    Southern SECESSION?

    They call it that out of political correctness.

    Actuallly if you think what they did in 1861 was secession — PLEASE do it again. We will kick your ass again.

    You didn’t secede you morons — you attacked. You first “seceded” and then AS A SEPARATE country you issued Five Ultimatums.

    Lincoln would not obey your Five Ultimatums.

    You issued FIVE ULTIMATUMS as a separate country — all five of your ultimatums were dictatorial nonsense to the United States.

    Its as if Hitler had issued Ultimatums to England that it must invade Poland for the amusement of Germany.

    The South seceded — and then issued Five Ultimatums that the NORTH must spread slavery , the US CONGRESS must force slavery into the territories.

    Lincoln would not do it.

    And you didn’t attack just one fort – you attacked 12. You hung voters, you threatened the capital, you looted treasuries, you raided ships and harbors.

    DO IT AGAIN. If that is secession — go DO IT AGAIN. Go kill more voters. Go attack 12 military bases. Go plunder the sea. Go threaten the capital– and see what happens.

    Learn real history, not the bullshit you have cherry picked.

    Learn what really happened. Learn how the South had stopped real elections for 30 years, how they violently suppresed free speech for 40 years, how they passed laws providing for torture for those who simply owned the wrong book.

    Forget slavery — slavery was the least of it. Your Nazi like suppression of free speech for over a generation, your torture and rape of millions, your regular use of cruel and unusual punishment, all that called for an ass kicking long before the Civil War.

    But the North did nothing till you lunatics issued your Five Ultimatums to spread slavery — and then attacked.

    That’s no secession you moron. If you think that is secession — why aren’t you trying that now?

    Why arent you killing voters now? Why aren’t you attacking 12 military bases now? Why arent you threatening the US capital now?

    Go on – do it. Show us how tuff you are.

    Do what you did before — and we will kick your ass again.

    Clear enough for ya?

  27. Bubba E. T. J. D. Lee

    This time, we got new killer weapons.

    The South will rise again.

    If at first you don’t secede…

    This time we’ll win.

  28. Mark

    Bubba you won’t do shiip. Your soldiers ran away last time, and so did your leaders.

    You have spend 150 years crying about it.

    Your cause was the spread of slavery — for God. That is what your leaders said at the time. You started the war.

    You were big on torturing people, selling babies, raping women. You deserved to get your ass kicked, and you did.

    Quit crying about it. Or — do it again. Go on, do it. Quit yapping your head off, go do it.

    Go enslave millions again. Go on, do it. Go kill voters like you did last time. GO on, do it. Go demand the spread of slavery .

    DO exactly as you did before, and we will kick your ass again.

    Clear enough for ya?

  29. Bubba E. T. J. D. Lee

    Son, are you deaf?

    We got new killer weapons now.

    New-killer.

    As in atomic on steroids.

    The South will rise again and we will kick your fruity asses this time.

    10 point plan to fix America

    1. No more imports
    2. No more immigrants
    3. Round up and deport illegals
    4. Reinstate the draft
    5. Put 10 million troops at the Mexican border with shoot to kill all Mexicans on sight orders
    6. Execute all dopers
    7. War with all Muslims and Chinese now
    8. Drill baby drill, nuclear power, energy independence
    9. Sodomy and abortion should be capital crimes
    10. Put God back in the schools and courts

    If the USA won’t do it, the CSA will secede and we will.

  30. paulie Post author

    I hate sleet, snow and ice.

    But if y’all secede with that agenda, I’m moving back up north.

    On second thought, that would not be far enough.

    I’d have to move back to Siberia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *