HOW NOT TO LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT: “Secession”

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These are trying times for Republicans. Not only did we lose the election, we got pantsed. Control of both houses and the presidency have been lost. We’re involved in two unpopular wars, we‘re bordering on a third, the government is deeply in debt, the international economy is in the crapper, and whether wrong or right, the strong public consensus is that it’s entirely our fault. Whether you’re a die-hard Bush supporter, or a moderate who feels mistakes were made, I think it’s pretty obvious that the party and its members are having a bit of an image problem right now.

To that end, I humbly submit this guide on how we can change our reputation and not be perceived as paranoid racists and raving religious fanatics, at least on a one-to-one basis.

LESSON 4: “Secession”

I’m a conservative, you’re a conservative, we’re all conservatives, we tend to identify ourselves based on our conservative views, we tend to flock together on and offline based around the things we believe in much the same way the other side does. That‘s human nature. But just as there is a radical fringe of liberalism that would make most Democrats step back and say, ‘Whoa, dude, that’s messed up!’ there is also a radical fringe of conservatism that is insidious, dangerous, and just plain wrong, and we need, need, need to distance ourselves from it publicly. I mean, there’s a difference between Conservative Views and Flat Out Whack-A-Mole Thinking, and we can’t let ourselves get subverted, or even associated with the latter if we ever want to be taken seriously in politics.

I’m referring to Secessionists.

This is not a new phenomenon, of course: There was a little thing called “The Civil War,” there were nasty almost-civil-war outbreaks of it in 1815 and 1830. There’s always been a pinch of it in our society, but it’s really mushroomed of late, to the point where everybody knows one: a person who seems rational enough, but then they start using words like ‘Statism’ and gibbering about how the president is really a Muslim spy sent here by the Illuminati to destroy us as part of their larger scheme to build landing pads for gay Martian flying saucers, who will then use them to fly Satan here from his home in the Crab Nebula. Then they start going on about Wyoming or Idaho or Kentucky or Vermont could be, nay, should be an independent nation, and how “Delaware doesn’t need America, America needs Delaware!” and how [Insert name of state here] would doubtless become a major world power, if only it were to cut lose the US of A, which is, of course, now a Godless, soulless, evil society governed by communist perverts who flout the intentions of the Founding Father.

Ok, I pumped that up a bit for comedic purposes. I admit I haven’t heard the whole “Satan Lives In The Crab Nebula” thing since the early ‘90s, and I got the “Landing pads for gay Martians” thing from a Dead Milkmen song (“Stuart”), but the rest of it is all stuff I’ve heard people saying (Though in some cases the names of the states have been changed to protect the guilty). The point being we all know people like this, maybe even some of the people reading this article *are* like this.

Well, I’m here today to tell you why this is idiocy and it makes all of us look bad.

#1 - IT’S RADICAL. “Conservatism” is all about holding on to core values about which society is based: God, Country, Family, Loyalty, Honesty, Honor, Barbeque. That’s not to say that Conservatism is opposed to social change - clearly it isn’t - but one of our fundamental precepts is that change should be incremental and somewhat slow, so as to make sure we’re not making a horrible mistake. You simply don’t change the rules of the game all at once - like the Democrats seem to want to do - and you *CERTAINLY* don’t get upset, knock over the table in the middle of the game, storm home, and load up your shotgun. That is, by definition, Radical, which is, by definition, not conservative.

If you want to do this, you are *not* a Conservative. Certainly you’re not a Republican.

#2 - IT’S DISLOYAL. As Republicans, we tend to believe in America far more than our Democratic cousins appear to. They’re always screaming and moaning about this or that perceived outrage, lobbying to destroy projects that would conceivably help their aims (Nuclear research, the Space Program), burning flags, and basically acting like a bunch of shrill over-caffeinated high school freshmen. Now I’m not saying Democrats *are* un-American, they’re mostly not, not really, but by contrast we Republicans tend towards almost-religious devotion to our country and it’s symbols: The flag, the constitution, the venerated figures of our past, the myth of the endless frontier, the military. These are important things, they *mean* something to us. It is as though we are holding watch over the sacred flame of our country, while they mostly just wanna’ listen to boy bands, and find a place to buy cheap pot that somehow isn’t all stems, as if such a thing were possible.

Well, if you’re talking about secession, all that good stuff that we revere and protect officially means nothing to you. Secession is saying “Screw the country, the constitution, the flag, and everything people died to protect, *I* think federal highway regulations are oppressive, and the hell with all of ‘em.”

Furthermore, let’s assume you get your wish and form the Republic of Upper Peninsular Michigan: People will die! You think the Fed will just let you go? Don’t start blubbering about the rights of the states, and how it’s the only way the Federal Government will learn, and how you’re leaving America to save America, that’s all crap: what could have made you hate America so much that you’d want to take up arms against it and kill people?

If you want to do this, you are *not* a Conservative. Certainly you’re not a Republican. In fact, you’re not even really an American anymore, are you? You’ve turned your back on everything, everything, everything we stand for.

#3 - IT’S AUTOCRATIC. Let’s just get right down to it here: Secessionism in America has *always* been about not setting up a one-party democracy because you can’t handle competition. The South in the civil war? Entirely Democratic. Not a single Republican. What it was really all about was saying “I can’t handle the other side winning, so I’m going to set up a system in which the other side won’t even exist, and then my like-minded friends and I will mete out justice and punishments like unto a god.” New England’s attempt to secede in 1815? Every single one of them was a Federalist, no one else need apply. The party was so disgraced they never recovered, and ended up disbanding.

Our republic is entirely based on the idea of a multiplicity of viewpoints. I’m not talking about some hokey ill-conceived multiculturalism, I’m talking about legitimate difference in view on how and why things ought to be done. Our founding fathers specifically set the system up so no one group could have too much power, and no one could have power for too terribly wrong. Yes, Democrats are mommy coddled whining needy little self-absorbed twerps who are more concerned with finding a Rave, and sleeping in on Sunday than they are with international realpolitik and responsibility. But they are not always entirely wrong. They are *mostly* wrong most of the time, but that’s not entirely. There have been some good things to come out of the Left (The space program, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), amidst the kerjillions of bad things (Vietnam, the 1970s, The Great Society, Socialism, anything connected to Jimmy Carter, the rise of “Letigocracy,” what the definition of ‘is’ is, etc.). And we’ve had some bad ideas, too, though of course not nearly so many.

Secession is based around the idea that we can’t *handle* an opposing viewpoint, that we need to pack up our ball and go home, the idea that even though we won the Cold War through intimidation and clever economic policies, we somehow can’t handle some pottery-making PBS pledging hippie in Oakland. I refuse to buy into that.

If you want to do this, you are *not* a Conservative. Certainly you’re not a Republican.

#4 - IT’S UNREALISTIC. Look, I get the romance of it. I’m not Southern, I’m not an Indian, but the idea of a small band of free men standing up against overwhelming odds is not something that is lost on me. I had a subscription to Timothy Truman’s “Scout” comic book. Just like everyone else, the glory of the Revolution is in our blood; I wished I had some enforceable way to tell president Clinton to stuff it. I get it: Righteous Anger is a powerful thing.

It is, however, easily mistakable for Selfrighteous Anger: A holier-than-thou kind of thing that has more to do with misplaced dreams of recovering lost glory (“The Republic of West Florida - which existed for 90 days - should *never* have joined the United States, and I’m going to correct that error!” And don‘t even get me started on Texas.) These things are not based on legitimate problems that leave no recourse, they’re just flights of fancy with guns. Never a good combination.

If you want to do this, you are *not* a Conservative. Certainly you’re not a Republican.

#5 - PEOPLE WILL DIE. Yeah, I know, “It’s going to be a peaceful secession.” When has that ever worked? Answer: Never! There isn’t a single example I can think of where country A has broken into countries B and C without a whole lot of killing going on. Even in situations where such partitioning was peacefully mandated by an outside force, the blood starts flowing almost immediately. Take India, for instance, which was peacefully divided into three independent countries in 1948. Since then, Pakistan and India have fought THREE murderous wars, and Burma (Now Myanmar) immediately fell into a twenty-sided civil war which is *still* going on SIXTY TWO years later!

But let’s assume you’re right, let’s assume a magic fairy comes along and sprinkles pixie dust on the US Government and somehow you get away without firing a shot: People will STILL die.

The US produces roughly half the world’s food, and we’re one of only four countries that produce enough of a surplus to export a substantial amount. That means that about three billion people largely subsist on our grain and other produce, which we sell them, or simply give them as humanitarian aide. This is a right and good and noble thing to do. About three years ago, when car manufacturers started switching to ethanol, farmers saw that they could make a profit by plowing under their traditional crops, and growing corn, since Ethanol comes from that. So they did. That immediately resulted in food shortages and short-term famines in countries like The Philippines and East Africa, and some parts of Southeast Asia. Ten Million Kenyans could die so that the Greens can feel good about themselves.

My point is simply to point out how precarious, how tightly-stretched the world economy is, and how close people are to starving as a result. The global economy is already in the crapper.

So you get your magic pixie dust secessionist republic: This will, unquestionably, destroy the American economy, which will, unquestionably, destroy what remains of the global economy. There’s 2.5 TRILLION dollars of credit card debt in the US at this moment. Any state leaving the union will cause vast interstate debts to go unpaid, which will overtax the banking industry, which will cause it to default on all it’s loans, which will cause all those credit cards to be charged off, which, of course, will devastate the American and International economies. That means farmers don’t get paid, which means food stops shipping, which means people die.

Seriously, what could have made you hate the United States so much that you’re willing to let a billion innocents die to satisfy your misplaced dreams of glory? And, of course, pixie dust aside, the US Government will *not* let you go. You’ll get a long, slow, bloody war that will kill tens of thousands. Furthermore, the US would have to divert resources from Afghanistan and Iraq, meaning we’ll probably lose both of those wars, and we’ll certainly be unable to make our obligations to our allies. If you cause the US to screw over NATO, do you really think any NATO member is going to recognize you? Or the UN? Do you *REALLY* want to go crawling to the UN for recognition anyway? I mean, isn’t that a large part of what this is about? Your paranoia about the UN?
Seriously, what could have made you hate the United States so much that you’re willing to kill Americans, and let your neighbors get killed in the process?

If you want to do this, you are *not* a Conservative. Certainly you’re not a Republican, and you’re no one I want to be associated with. You’re just insane.

#6 - IT’S UNCHRISTIAN. Here, read this:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13: 1-7)

Let me just restate one verse for emphasis:

he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:2)

There you go: Rebel and go to hell. Pretty cut-and-dry. There are, of course, exceptions. If your government forces you to do things that are against the rules of Christianity, then you’re justified in opposing them. So let’s go through a checklist, shall we?

Is the government forcing you to engage in Sexual Immorality? No. Is the government forcing you to drink blood? No. Is the government forcing you to eat food sacrificed to idols? No. Is the government forcing you to eat strangled animals? No. (Acts 15:20) Is the government forcing you to exclude elders and deacons from the leadership of your church? No. Is the government forcing you to stop looking after widows and orphans? No. Is the government forcing you to be polluted by the world? No. (James 1:27) Is the government holding you down and saying ‘you can’t worship God anymore?’ No. They’re being jerks about public displays of worship, no doubt about it, and that annoys me to no end, but - important point - no one has ever, ever, ever said ‘You can’t be a Christian anymore.’ (In fact, the president has regularly, publicly identified himself as a Christian, much to the annoyance of his own party.) They don’t even tax our churches or the sale of Bibles! They pray in sessions of Congress!

So there you go: There is no justification for talk of secession, and that’s not my opinion, brother, that’s straight from the Bible. You can play all the paranoid schizophrenic games you want, but let’s not pretend it’s anything other than sin, shall we?

Furthermore, our ancestors in the faith *did not* rise against Rome. They submitted themselves to secular authority. When attacked, they turned the other cheek. When arrested, they submitted to imprisonment. When killed, they accepted martyrdom and commended themselves to God. Each act Rome took against our forbearers damned the authorities more and more. Gradually, the persecutions ended. Gradually we were tolerated in society. Gradually we came to be valued - Christians were pretty much the only people in the empire who weren’t cheating on their taxes. Gradually we subverted the status quo. Gradually, we won.

Now, if our faith could play the long game and accomplish all that in the face of an actual, real, oppressive government that *Was* doing some things that would justify Christian rebellion, then how can you claim we can’t wait a lousy two years until Obama is out of office?

Seriously: if you still say secession is a good thing, then you’re not a Conservative, you’re not a Republican, and you need to give some long, serious thought to whether or not you’re a Christian.

So: Don’t be an idiot.

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