The word “secession” has been tossed about a bit since the election, maybe more here in Texas than in some places. It’s not something to toy with, and I don’t intend to do that. But I hope to add some clarity as to why it shouldn’t be casually considered.
There’s a nice little video spelling out whether Texas can secede; it’s worth viewing for some context.
With that background, I just want to add this analogy. States join the union of the United States with the intention of permanence—indivisibility—the way most people throughout history have entered marriage. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
Divorce is not supposed to happen, but it does. Historically, just cause has been reserved for the big A words: adultery, abandonment, addiction, abuse. Irritation, anger, disappointment, disagreement, and other failures are a difficult part of life, but not just cause for breaking a marriage covenant, if the marriage covenant itself is to continue to have meaning for society.
So, by comparison, a state in the union is meant to be a permanent part of the United States. That covenant should not be broken without just cause. Again, irritation, anger, disappointment, disagreement, and other failures are not just cause. However, there is this contract, the Constitution, that is essentially the marriage document between states and the federal government. If the Constitution is violated—and I think this must be in a clear, incontrovertible, unrepentant violation—such that the just cause for separation listed in the Declaration of Independence become true again, then the contract is by the union, and the state has the moral right to separate.
A marriage that expects one party to remain bound when the other feels free to violate repeatedly various parts of the covenant is nothing more than slavery. A Constitution that binds states to a union that violates many or most of the guarantees of freedom agreed to in the contract is nothing more than slavery. No state has made such an agreement. Our Constitution, unlike those of other countries where a constitution is viewed as merely some nice suggested wording about governing, is the supreme law of the land. Honoring the contract protects us all.
While the contract has been violated, and repeatedly, I don’t know that we are beyond all the other stages of correction—the marriage counseling parts. If we, in the various states, stand up against unjust laws, refuse to allow imposition of actions that break the contract—then we might find that the bully government backs down. There might be a renewed respect from the federal government toward the individual sovereign states. Until those steps (what we might call nullification in some cases) are taken, then we don’t know that dissolution is the only recourse.
Could there come a time when, as the Declaration of Independence says, “it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another”? Yes. Some may argue we are there already. I say first, let’s as states stand up for ourselves and refuse to tolerate abuses of the Constitutional contract. Because, in the way divorce damages the family, divisibility would damage the union. And, without a divorce court to settle the division, that would be settled by whoever is the stronger force in war. In other words, if we’re not yet willing to fight to the death for our independence from the union, it’s not time to talk secession.