Would the US have the moral strength to fend off secession now

I was thinking of adding this to the New Civil War thread but that one has, predictably, devolved into the military/civilian routine and it seemed non-productive.

My thesis is this: Do the institutions/leadership of the US have the moral strength shown by Lincoln et al to oppose secession? I’m not certain it does.

Now, get me, I’m not proposing that an American uprising with violent secession wouldn’t be resisted. If we’re good at anything it’s fighting back.

But what about peaceful secession? If the west coast - California, Oregon and Washington - for example petitioned congress to secede from the Union would Congress and the other states deny that petition? There’s theory that a state could secede through approval of Congress and a majority of the states approval.

But my real issue is whether the country as a whole would resist a heartfelt desire to leave. A 2017 Zogby poll showed that 68% of Americans would be open to the idea of allowing secession (though much fewer approved of it for THEIR state).


It’s an interesting question in these politically divisive times.

I don’t see secession as a moral issue, or one requiring moral strength. It’s a political one. The issue, as Lincoln put it in the Gettysburg Address, is that if you have states seceding every time they don’t like something, then the whole union is flawed. But that itself is a choice as well, and there’s no moral issue involved in preferring one type or the other.

I don’t think the country would support an all-out civil war over secession at this time. (Nor should it, IMO.) So I think if a few guys here and there secede, and the government could put it down by arresting the key ringleaders, then they would do it. But if it’s something that has wide and deep popular support, and would require serious bloodshed to supress, then they would not.

I would agree with this assessment. In the current environment, I am not seeing enough evidence that our leaders, and the general populace, have a strong sense of all of the guiding principles of our republic, one being that we are the UNITED States. I see evidence that the level of divisiveness could manifest in support of west coast secession. After all, they voted for Hillary, the left coast, full of Mexicans and gays, etc, and other myths that get repeated.

The moral strength to resist secession would only come into play in the presence of enough bloodymindedness in favor of it. Who and where do you see a secession drive *realistically *happening, never mind jokes about the Texit?

I think Lincoln’s strength was not in his morality, but in his ability to conscript soldiers, print greenbacks, and collect taxes. Trump has the last two in spades, the first may not even be necessary any longer.

Maybe the discontent in people considering questions like this is based more among-st themselves, rather than whatever disillusionment with the Federal government they might perceive?


No. Every possible measure would be taken by the federal govt. to prevent secession. Peaceful or not. And the opinions of average Joe wouldn’t be taken into consideration. Ya see, you let ONE state do it, and you could have a potential domino effect. Has to be tamped down ruthlessly.

I would have agreed with this with previous administrations, but I’m not confident that this administration would have the same reaction.

I don’t think it would take all that much moral strength to refuse secession. As we kicked around in the California secession thread, the practical impossibilities are such that the rest of the country would not agree to the kind of “we secede but keep all the Federal property, and you have to give us water and defend our ports and send us Social Security checks” proposals that fuel these pipe dreams.

The federal government is too deeply entwined in every state to be dug out. And it would hurt the rest of the US to say “let the loonies find out they can’t go it alone so they will come crawling back in a few years”. If it came up for a vote, I would vote against it, lobby against it, encourage everyone I knew to vote against it, and not vote for any legislator who didn’t oppose it.

If they try to secede without permission, then send in the military, round up the ringleaders, stage a few hangings, and see how long it takes to be serious.

Not that any of this has a snowball’s chance in hell of actually happening. We are not going to have any secessions, there will not be a revolution (on the Left or the Right), Trump is not going to declare himself President-for-Life, all elections are going to go off on schedule, etc., etc.

Fun’s fun, but come on now.


If those states vote to secede, there might very well be a civil war (actually, honest to goodness shooting) within the states, and the feds would step in to quell that. Especially in CA, there would be intense fighting on where to draw the boundaries. The eastern part of the state (Central Valley) is, politically, closer to Oklahoma or Kansas than to SF or LA.

Look at what happened in 1860. If the southern states hadn’t seceded, we would have had a sharply divided government with a Republican President and a Democratic Congress. We would have had four years of political conflict with nothing getting done.

But the opposition decided to break off and form their own country. And when they were gone, the government was transformed. Lincoln had a solid majority of support in the Congress that remained after the Confederates left. And secession gave them a clear target to focus on.

In the unlikely event that there was another secession today, I think the same thing would happen. If the opposition left, liberal or conservative, the government that remained would take a sharp shift in the other direction and would be united.

I’m not sure y’all are quite getting where I’m going with this.

Moral strength is the ability to define what you believe is right and to move towards that. For the first time, I’m coming to believe that a secessionist movement might not be completely opposed by the federal government.

So when I speak of moral strength it’s that knowledge of what should be done and having the ability to follow through. I don’t think anyone doubts that the federal government could put down a rebellion among the states…but a peaceful petition? I have doubts that Trump and company wouldn’t see it as an opportunity to cement their own position.

Let’s say I think Maine, NH, and Vermont should secede, and in the future maybe petition Canada to become a new province. It would help both entities with trade issues and the sharing of resources. Putting this together would be bipartsan in nature, as alliances with the two major American parties are iffy, and confidence in the federal government in any of its roles is very low.

What is the moral argument against this?

I don’t feel this is an accurate picture of the government. I’ll agree that there have been people who question the legitimacy of a particular government, saying the current President should be impeached or wasn’t legally elected or isn’t a real citizen. But most of those people aren’t questioning the legitimacy of the American system of government - they’re just opposed to the current administration.

More importantly, this questioning is coming from outside the government. I’m not seeing any administration questioning its own legitimacy much less the legitimacy of the government in general. The Trump administration is certainly no exception. While I feel it has problems, I definitely don’t think it’s ridden with self-doubt.

How much income does the treasury lose if NY and California leave the union?

Wouldn’t that be a factor?

Secession will likely only work if liberals go along with it as well. When it was only a few fringe right-wingers advocating for it, it was just a fringe idea. But increasingly, on Facebook and elsewhere, there are more and more lefties getting on board with it as well - not in the sense of seceding but rather ‘permitting’ secession. The idea of “divorce is mutually beneficial for red and blue sides” is getting support from some blues now.

This is true of Oregon and Washington as well.

I think some people on both sides would do some hasty mental calculations on the political effect of the specific proposal and support or oppose it based, at least in significant part, on that anticipated effect.

The US Federal government has a duty to protect all of citizens, and does so routinely in the face of local opposition. Why would the Federal government hesitate to do so when a small majority is attempting to oppress a large minority, which is what these ‘peaceful’ secession scenarios posit? Around 1/3 of California’s vote went to Trump, do you think that those US citizens don’t deserve any protection from the Federal Government? How about black and hispanic voters in a Texas seceding to get away from Federal civil rights meddling? The idea of a simple majority vote for secession sounds great if you don’t think about it, but doesn’t work well in practice.

We had a long-running thread on California secession, and it was clear that the supporters of the measure had no answers for any of the rather obvious practical questions about how secession would work. The US Federal government owns almost half of California’s land outright, for example. Some of that is big empty space, some of that is highly valuable naval bases. So would Calexitfornia end up with 45% of its land owned by a foreign country, or would it pay to buy the land from the Feds, or would it expect congress to vote to give it a bunch of land for free (unlikely to say the least), or would it seize the land (no longer peaceful)? Would Calexitfornians try keep their US citizenship, which means continuing to pay US income taxes among other things, or would they become foreign nationals and no longer be able to enter the US without a VISA? What would happen with Social Security benefits when they split off? Where would California get its water, since currently it relies on an inter-state compact and treaties between the US and Mexico, neither of which it would be a party to as a new country?

Having 51% of the state sign a petition saying ‘we won’t out’ isn’t really any better than a temper tantrum, you’d need to come up with solid answers for all of these points and more.

Probably the same as the argument against the conservative parts of Maine, NH, and Vermont from immediately voting to secede from the new country of MaineHampMont and petitioning the US for reentry. Once you start down the path that people have the right to just split off with a simple majority vote, there’s no argument for arguing that US states in particular are special and that counties, cities, neighborhoods, and other reasons should be forbidden to secede under the same logic.

Oh sorry, this is just another Trump thread. My bad.