Sucessionism

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Map of USA with Hawaii highlighted

Map of USA with Hawaii highlighted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A colleague of mine compared secessionists to the people in Germany who supported the rise of Hitler into power. Despite the obvious oddity of a group in favor of decentralization of government being linked with a group in Germany who were for more centralized government, the claim remains absurd for other reasons. A number of people in more conservative states feel disenfranchised by the recent re-election of Mr. Obama. Older members of this group are frightened as a man who hates their vision of America is confirmed in power. Now Mr. Obama clearly won the election–even if accusations of voter fraud in Pennsylvania and other places were valid, Mr. Obama still had the numbers to win. Yet if one examines a map of the vote for Mr. Obama, a few densely populated urban areas, especially in the northeast, along with the usual “left-coast” voting, determined the outcome of the election. Small town voters, rural voters–most voted for Mr. Romney. A map of the United States showing counties won by Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney reveals a sea of red surrounded by a few urban pockets of blue. Urban tax consumers can now routinely outvote rural and small town taxpayers. In addition, the values that many Americans hold dear–moral and religious values–are increasingly under attack by a more aggressive federal government. The “contraceptive mandate” is the most egregious threat to religious freedom in recent years, yet it slides through court challenges as if the constitution no longer means anything–which is de facto what has happened. The succession movement is symbolic–no person who signed the petitions thinks that the federal government would allow a state to succeed. The petitions are expressions of frustration, a way of “letting off steam.” Now I have always believed that the states are sovereign units, that any unit that voted to join the United States should not be forced to stay within the United States. This was the general viewpoint before 1861, and Mr. Lincoln went against established law in trying to force the Southern states back into the Union. With the illegal passage of the 14th Amendment, the domination of the states by the federal government became enshrined in law. Although I believe succession to be legal under the original Constitution, it would be practically impossible to pull it off today. Now if in the future a massive economic collapse occurs and a country of this size becomes ungovernable, then succession may become a realistic possibility. Given the diversity of populations within the individual states, I doubt that even a nonbinding resolution for succession would pass. The recent petitions, however, reveal the complete frustration of people who have seen the world in which they were reared turned upside down by the forces of radical leftists. Mr. Obama does not govern as an economic socialist; however, his background is Marxist and I doubt that he has fundamentally changed his earlier philosophical stance. Conservatives realize that Mr. Obama supervises, albeit indirectly, a vast federal bureaucracy which is already dominated by leftist thinkers. They also realize that it will be further radicalized by the Obama Administration appointments, especially at the middle management level, and that such bureaucrats write federal regulations. The regulations coming down on the states are growing exponentially. How long will it be before such regulations wrest control of education from the states? How long will it be before abortion is rammed down the throats of religious organizations or else–excuse me, that has already happened. Conservatives would like to be free from such overarching control, and they resent the fact that the difference in the election was the votes of people dependent on the federal government (this is not to deny that many working people also voted for Mr. Obama, but to point out one of the key voter blocks supporting Mr. Obama). They want real independence from the overarching tyranny of the federal government and see no way out. Thus they sign (foolishly, I think since they have to give their names on a federal government site) petitions for succession to assuage their emotions. This is the opposite of a Fascist move to force their views down others’ throats–if anything, it is the most peaceful form of protest in which people can engage–in signing a petition. At least the left should stop making ignorant comparisons between groups, especially if they do not understand one of the groups they are insulting. Such behavior is all too typical of the political left.

True, There Never Was a Golden Age, but….

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Small town Arizona

I enjoy looking through the books other faculty require as reading at the university where I teach–it gives me a sense of the focus of their classes and the gist of the material taught in a particular class. One day I found a book on the 1950s, arguing that it was not a “golden age” for family life, and that families had severe problems then as they do now. My first response was to say to myself, “No kidding.” Only a fool would think that the 1950s or any other decade was some kind of “Golden Age” that bypassed human frailties. Marriages had problems in the 1950s, some spouses were abused as well as some children, and some families were dysfunctional. However, apart from these obvious facts, and apart from useful advances in technology and medicine since the 1950s, it does appear that, despite its flaws, that decade was the last true “Era of Good Feeling” in the United States. It was also the last decade in which a generally Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic was dominant in American thought, even among most Roman Catholics and Jews. Although divorce was sometimes necessary in extreme circumstances of physical and/or emotional abuse or serial adultery, in most cases divorce was frowned upon. Although the Hollywood set would get abortions as well as others, abortion was recognized as a grave moral evil. Only a small minority disagreed. Premarital sex occurred, of course, and the hypocritical aspects of 1950s sexual mores are well known, but at least there was an ideal that the wedding night would be a special beginning of  a new life between two people that is sealed by their first act of sexual intercourse. More extended families existed, especially in the South, the Midwest, and (as is still the case today) in the Italian-American community. Although people moved, outside of the military or of upper business management, extensive moving was rare. The new suburbs, for a time, retained the notion of a “neighorhood” with cookouts and regular visits between neighbors. Small town life, though declining, still flourished in many parts of the country. Alcoholism was a problem, as was always the case, but extensive use of hard drugs such as heroin was rare outside some inner city neighborhoods. There was a growing problem with juvenile crime, but most teenaged social life was tame by today’s “standards.” Although conformity was sometimes taken to an extreme, there was a strong sense that the older generation felt a responsibility to rear a virtuous younger generation. Perhaps the “greatest generation” did not understand the degree to which easy access to material things would create the spoiled and self-serving whiners of the mid-1960s onward, but most tried to rear their children with high moral values. My parents told me that at least in the 1950s a person knew whom he could trust. Today, they said, it is difficult to trust anyone.

The “Great Society” and the destruction of underclass society which arose through their dependency on federal aid, was in the future. The vast majority of children, white and black, were born in stable two-parent homes. A strong work ethic permeated most of American society.

This is not to say that the 1950s did not have deep flaws–struggles over race and the threat of nuclear war, for example. However, I would have rather lived in that kind of culture rather than the upside down world of 2012, in which people “call evil good and good evil” and Nietzsche’s “transvaluation of values” took place, though not in the direction of the Homeric virtues as Nietzsche desired. Christian culture is rapidly declining in influence, with a new breed of young secularists coming into view who, as Rush Limbaugh (who is right on this point) notes are both desirous of a government “nanny state” to take care of their physical needs while at the same time desiring that the government let them “do their thing” regarding gay marriage, abortion, and other “choices” they deem “personal.” The rapidity of the decline in American character since the 1950s has been astounding. In my own lifetime the world has turned upside down, to the delight of the anti-Christian left and to the chagrin of the few traditionalists standing against the plague of barbarism overwhelming the country.

No generation is unfallen. Yet most members of the 1950s generation would admit when they did wrong. They might do bad things anyway, but they understood them to be morally wrong. Today people strut immoral activity without believing it to be immoral. Academia has been part of the fuel for the fire of relativism, but it is, ironically, an absolutist relativism that denies traditionalists their right to express their views. The universities have become cesspools of relativism, Marxism, and a stifling politically correct orthodoxy. At least in the 1950s, faculty had academic freedom to express their views. Traditional conservatives may have been a small minority, but they were not censored. The university was generally a place of open discussion of ideas rather than the cesspool of radical orthodoxy it has become now.

It is too late to go back–the United States as I knew it as a child is dying. The sense of anomie I and other traditionalists feel has driven some to emigrate from the country and others to retreat to enclaves of like-minded people. In the 1950s I would have felt at home. Even in the 1980s there seemed to be hope for the future. Now I feel like a stranger in a strange land, and I am sure many other people do as well. There are times I want to go back to my grandparents’ house where my parents lived with my sister and I from 1965-1969 and enjoy the simplicity of it all before the madness of the 1960s froze into place in the 1970s. It may be a good thing for Christians, for it forces us to focus on God as the only One who is eternal, the only One who does not change. Going back to the past is pointless–traditionalists have lost the culture. We can trust in God, try to live good moral lives and be good examples to others, be active in church, and enjoy visits with like-minded people without isolating ourselves from the larger society. We know that God will triumph in the end, but until then, we wait “with earnest expectation” for Christ to come.