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 Let the Blue States Go! 

November 23, 2004 
As everyone knows, the United States of America are no longer quite so united as they used to be. They are now divided into blue states and red states. Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.The blue states tend to be liberal and Democratic and the red states tend to be conservative and Republican.

The blue states, concentrated on the coasts, are upset that President Bush has been reelected — or, as many blue-staters would say, elected. I can’t blame them; but then, the alternative scared me even more than Bush did.

Some blue-staters are even talking about seceding from the Union. To me this is the most heartening development in many years. I don’t quite understand it, since the blue-staters usually favor a huge centralized government; and Bush is certainly giving us that. One new book by two British observers argues that Bush has invented a new style of conservatism, which, instead of opposing big government, makes the most of it. Maybe his “big-government conservatism” is finally teaching liberals the virtues of small government.

Anyhow, I’m delighted to see them learning. I never expected them to rediscover Jefferson Davis, but perhaps the age of miracles isn’t past after all. Soon we may be hearing the rebel yell in staid Boston.

It’s generally a healthy thing when people rethink their basic political assumptions, and it usually takes a shock to make them do so. A rethinking of mass democracy is long overdue. Faith in sheer majority rule was assuredly alien to the Founders of the Republic, which is why they called it a republic; for them, democracy meant mob rule, and it’s one of the amusing turns of American history that the allegedly conservative Republicans have become the most ardent champions of the weird notion that wisdom resides in numerical majorities.

The blue-staters have had the kind of trauma that leads to conversion. The scales of centralism are falling from their eyes. Sure, they want big government — but not faith-based, anti-abortion, homophobic, war-mongering big government! They were thinking of something more, well, Scandinavian.

Or Canadian. Some of the neo-secessionist are toying with forming a new union with our friendly neighbor to the north. This would permit a contiguous federation, a rather crab-shaped polity extending down both coasts. Canada, unlike the United States, recognizes the right of its provinces to secede, so if things didn’t work out, the blue states could opt out again. It is a bit queer to think of San Diego and Baltimore as Canadian cities, but I suppose we could get used to it.

[Breaker quote: Now is the time.]Personally, I’d miss Boston and San Francisco, two of my favorite cities. On the other hand, I respect their right to go their own way, and I’d oppose taking up arms to stop them.

Which of course raises the obvious question: Would the U.S. Government ever permit it? The last time the issue of withdrawing from the Union came up, the Federal Government’s response was “Not nohow, not no way,” and it took rather extreme measures to prevent it. And today its arsenal is immeasurably greater than it was then, including what we now call weapons of mass destruction.

So the problem would have to be handled with great delicacy. The blue states would have to achieve their freedom by nonmilitary means. That would mean persuading the red states to accept secession as a legitimate, righteous, and constitutional cause.

Is that possible? Yes, it’s possible. By another fine historical twist, the reddest of the red states today are the Southern states that seceded the last time. The South, which has a long memory, might well be strongly sympathetic to the plea of the blue states for a peaceful separation, especially considering its differences with, and even antipathy to, the culturally alien Yankee states of the Northeast in particular.

We forget that sympathy for secession was so strong in the North that Abraham Lincoln had to crush freedom of speech and press, with thousands of arrests, in order to suppress it. If the North had been free, the South would have won its freedom.

“One nation, indivisible”? This has been our mantra for over a century. Today’s mantra, “diversity,” is in important respects closer to the original spirit of the Republic — before it was welded into an unwieldy and centralized monolith.

“Mightier than armies is an idea whose time has come.” We are dealing with an idea whose time has come back.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2004 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
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