Originally published in the Batesville Daily Guard
Let’s face it, the outcome of this election was going to divide people across the U.S. no matter what.
Looking at it, I kind of wonder if this was what the climate was like in 1860. Back then, you had half the geographic area of the country that had its economy and culture tied to slavery. Their fears that an institution that was so central to their way of life was in peril led to their secession, which at the time was deemed illegal, thus the Civil War took place.
By the end of the Civil War, more than 600,000 Americans were dead, a bodycount that was more than all U.S. wars put together until the Vietnam War.
Now you’re hearing that sort of secession talk again with the Calexit movement, which has touched off similar hashtag movements in its northern neighbors Oregon and Washington as well as reignited a dormant one in New England and creating one in New York.
The #Calexit developed from the Yes California Independence Campaign, an American political action committee that promotes the secession of the state of California from the United States via a proposed referendum in 2019.
And the general reaction?
“OK, bye” and “good riddance.”
Apparently, many people believe the country would be better off without them anyway.
To be fair, we would have been hearing similar rumblings if Clinton had won.
Case in point — Texas.
There has been rumblings of a Texit for a while, with a faction of the Texas Republican Party being unsuccessful in introducing it to its platform.
The resolution, had it been successful, called for allowing voters to decide whether Texas should become an independent nation. Like California, I wouldn’t have been surprised if movements in surrounding smaller states sprung up as sort of a “me too” as well.
If the election had gone the other way, I would have expected a similar reaction from whichever side lost.
But is it legal or even possible?
On the latter, I’d say “Hey, we elected Trump, didn’t we?” If a political outsider holding views radically different than either party’s establishment can get elected, what can you really rule out of the realm of possibility?
As far as secession, it’s kind of open to interpretation.
According to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a 2006 letter, it would not be legal because the United States would not be party to a lawsuit on the issue, the “constitutional” basis of secession had been “resolved by the Civil War” and there is no right to secede, as the Pledge of Allegiance clearly illustrates through the line “one nation, indivisible.”
More than 100 years earlier, another Supreme Court Justice had a more murky opinion. In Texas v. White in 1869, Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase wrote “The union between Texas and the other states was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original states. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.”
Essentially, that means if a state wants to secede, it needs to have the consent of every other state or at least a majority.
I doubt we’ll see any states succeed at secession anytime soon, but could it ever happen?
I don’t know, but if we have a few more elections like this one, I guess anything is possible. After all, we are going through a time of change like we have never seen before. Whether they be demographic, cultural or economic those changes are affecting different parts of the country in different ways and the different parts of our country are approaching those changes in different ways — so different that we look at the country as a blue and red map with red and blue ways of life.
Really, we ought to see the map in various shades of purple instead of red and blue. But after this election, will we be able to pull ourselves back together again?
I think a lot of us are saying “I don’t know.”