Civil War? What Civil War?

Ron Paul, hero to a lot of middle school-minded Americans, said on Sunday:

If a people cannot secede from an oppressive government, they cannot truly be considered free.

Paul was commenting on “all the recent talk of secession” going on in the reddest hearts in the reddest parts of the country.

Of course there really isn’t any serious talk of secession going on, but Ron Paul, who is mercifully retiring from Congress, doesn’t want to miss a chance to demonstrate just why libertarian Republicanism isn’t a grown-up political philosophy.

Paul asked:

Is it treasonous to want to secede from the United States? 

Why, yes, it is, Ronny Reb. We have been there, done that, remember? Yep, he does remember:

Many think the question of secession was settled by our Civil War.  On the contrary; the principles of self-governance and voluntary association are at the core of our founding.

In the Paulian mind, in the mind of a man with a kid’s view of politics, the Civil War didn’t mean squat. Nothing, apparently, was settled by the often-ugly death of 600,000+ Americans in our War of Northern/Southern Aggression, the name dependent on what side your ancestors were on.  All states are free to dissociate themselves from the Founders’ creation at the drop of a hat, or at the drop of a black man’s hat, he says.

Paul continued:

There is nothing treasonous or unpatriotic about wanting a federal government that is more responsive to the people it represents.

Nope. That’s right. There is nothing treasonous or unpatriotic about “wanting” such a thing, but there is something treasonous and unpatriotic about actually fighting—with real guns, for God’s sake—for such a thing. And if we are not talking about real guns here, then what the bleep are we talking about? Does anyone think President Obama is going to say to the Ron Pauls of Texas: Go ahead, go your own way? Secession talk means nothing if it doesn’t mean fighting for it with guns.

But what is it that has Ron Paul’s rebellious spirit all aglow? What is it that has him writing such nugatory nonsense?

Stupidly, he seems to be, above all, upset about the Affordable Care Act:

It remains to be seen what will happen in states that are refusing to comply with the deeply unpopular mandates of Obamacare by not setting up healthcare exchanges.  It appears the Federal government will not respect those decisions either.

Respect what decisions? If a state is unable or unwilling to comply with the law, the law—apparently a foreign concept to Paulmandates that the federal government set up those exchanges. The federal government will respect any state’s decision not to set up the health insurance exchanges by setting them up itself. As John Kasich, Republican governor of Ohio, said, his state “will not run an ObamaCare health exchange, but will instead leave that to the federal government to do.”

Got that Ronny Reb? If states don’t want to do it, The Scary Negro In The White’s House will take up the slack.

Finally, Ron Paul wrote:

In a free country, governments derive their power from the consent of the governed. When the people have very clearly withdrawn their consent for a law, the discussion should be over. 

The “discussion should be over” if people in a state “have very clearly withdrawn their consent for a law“? Huh? Is that all it takes to dissolve our Union? A state simply has to declare that, say, it will not abide any more meat inspectors and, voilà,  a new Republic of Texas is born?

If Ron Paul had been a big shot politician in the 1960s, when landmark civil rights legislation was passed, he would surely have said that states had the right to secede over whether blacks could piss in white toilets or whether blacks could sit in the front of white buses or whether blacks could vote in white elections.

But, thankfully, this isn’t the 1960s, or, more to the point, the 1860s, and Ron Paul is in a very tiny minority, a minority that looks more childish every day, a minority that will soon be without Ron Paul as its intellectually callow leader.



  1. King Beauregard

     /  November 20, 2012

    The 24 Types of Libertarians:


  2. I have stated on a few occasions that the federal government should not allow Texas to leave the union. Instead, why not give it back to Mexico and then close the borders? It would relieve a huge burden from this country. There, I sounded just as foolish as Ron Paul and the secessionists.

    I wonder how the Republic of Texas would look without the United States federal government. Would they be able to keep their taxes low without federal aid to roads, education, and other programs? Would the elderly have to work until they died, or would programs as Social Security and Medicare be available? Obviously, the mental midgets, in their state of panic at the reelection of a non-white to the presidency, did not give adequate thought to such things.

    The electorate has changed, and will continue to change, so these whining babies should accept it as fact or move to a country that embraces their views, if there is such a country in the world. I sure as hell can’t think of a country where corporations rule, minorities are placed in a secondary role, the function of women is to reproduce for the white master race, the poor are shunned, and the middle class supports the wealthy leaders. These types of countries failed in a few decades, so lick your wounds, losers, and accept the fact that things are changing, and you will continue to lose as long as you embrace the policies of the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox Noise, the radical Christian (?) right, the Koch Brothers, and Karl Rove.


  3. Good post, guys. I have to admit there was a time when Libertarian philosophy appealed to me. It appeals to logic, especially if one is, as Jim H. says, one is already comfortably nested in social programs and infrastructure provided by state and federal governments. But to observe how near we are to unacceptable bounds of human behavior, even within the limits of existing regulations and laws, one only has to read the newspaper, or, perhaps go down to the mall at midnight next Friday.


  4. Yellow Dog

     /  November 20, 2012

    Oh God, let them go. For Gods sake cut these red states off. They’d be back once they realized what “your on your own” really means.


  5. bruce

     /  December 24, 2012

    I’m obviously late to this party, but this post kind of left me torn, though I agree with you much of the time Duane.

    I think I agree with the thrust of this post as nothing in health reform or President Obama’s agenda justifies even talking about secession. I pulled up most of your Paul posts, and had to agree with more of them than not.

    All that said, in this year’s GOP field, I often was much more comfortable with Ron Paul than the others. While his support for the Gold Standard; dismantlement of much of the social safety net and the like would cause a lot more pain than gain, he at least didn’t seem to be in lock step in the xenophobia; and war mongering that seems to course through most of the GOP now. Also, he at least seems to have coherent philosophy more than most Republicans do I think.

    Even on the point of secession that we shouldn’t be discussing, I think I’d concede that a rebellious separatist movement could be a justified response to oppression in principle.

    In anycase, I disagree with a lot of Ron Paul’s positions, but I find him much preferred to a Rick Santouroum or Mitt Romney.


    • Bruce,

      I understand the affection for Ron Paul, as often he is refreshingly honest about what he believes and doesn’t play silly games trying to hide his philosophy. And I certainly would have preferred him over Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney, if only because Paul would have little support to do the most extreme things you mention.

      It is his philosophy itself that is bothersome, even though I too agree with some of his foreign policy ideas, if for slightly different reasons.

      And in principle, I do agree that rebellion can be a justifiable response to oppression. But here in America, we have nothing like even the rudimentary
      structural support for the kind of oppression that I would consider ripe for rebellion by secession. We are still a very robust democracy, and for the most part we, collectively, get the kind of government the majority wants (even though I have a huge problem with the way congressional districts are drawn for partisan purposes, which contributes to the distortion in our democracy and adds to the inconvenience of dysfunctional government).

      My problem with those who believe secession is the answer to relatively trivial matters, is that they are the same ones who tell us how patriotic they are, how much they love their country. Let’s face it. We all love our country a bit more if we think it conforms to our vision of what it should be. But even those of us on the left who get disappointed in America now and then don’t (seriously) want to cut large chunks of it off from the whole just because we don’t always get our way. A lot of right-wingers these days (but not as many as some would have us believe) do, though, think that their vision of America is so fundamentally different from what about half of the country embrace, that we are therefore hopelessly incompatible. Any philosophy that leads to such thinking is antithetical to the American democratic (and still experimental) spirit, as far as I’m concerned.

      Finally, I hope you have followed Ron Paul’s comments on the NRA’s statement about Sandy Hook. His remarks, well, reveal the extremism woven into his libertarian philosophy.



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