Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tea Parties, Secession and the 17th Amendment

At one of the April 15th “tea party” tax protest events, Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union. The resulting furor on the left-wing blogosphere – accusing Perry of being “un-American” and potentially worse -- is both funny to watch and sad at the same time. It’s sad because there are so many people in the United States who are ignorant of our own history. Their ignorance is a big part of the problem.

How did the United States come to exist? Through an act of secession. On July 4th, 1776 the “Declaration of Independence” was signed, which declared our independence from Great Britain. The Declaration started with these words:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The Declaration went on to list a number of grievances that the colonists had against Britain and King George. Among those grievances were the levy of taxes without the colonist’s consent. The Declaration wraps up by saying:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved…

Britain didn’t take kindly to their colony trying to secede and they tried to stop it by force. That led to the Revolutionary War.

Unlike most modern politicians, the colonists were no hypocrites. They upheld the right of secession as the new constitution was being debated and even after it went into effect. The delegates at Virginia’s ratification convention stated: "The powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression." In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson said that: "If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left to combat it." Fifteen years later, after the New England Federalists attempted to secede, Jefferson said, "If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation ... to a continuance in the union .... I have no hesitation in saying, 'Let us separate.'"

In spite of all of the ignorant blather from the left today, I am increasingly encouraged because so many Americans are discovering the heritage and meaning of this great country. For example, 20 states have now passed "10th Amendment" resolutions declaring their sovereignty over the federal government and demanding that the federal government stop usurping their power. Who would have thought even a few years ago that this would have been possible? It's now become inevitable due to the massive power grab of the Bush administration and the even greater usurpation of our rights being undertaken by Obama.

Here's one last thing that we all need to learn: The framers put in a place a system of checks and balances so that no government entity within the United States could gain too much power. In 1913, the 17th Amendment passed which removed the right of state governments to appoint senators. The 17th Amendment removed the biggest check that the state governments had on the federal government. The balance has tilted towards the federal government ever since. Now we find ourselves in this big mess with a bloated, unresponsive government run by special interests. It's only going to get worse. The only enduring way that we can restore the balance between the states and the federal government is by repealing the 17th Amendment. That should be on the top of everyone’s agenda.

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