Threatening Secession to Preserve a Just Union

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Excerpt from my chapter "United We Stand. Divided We Are" from the book "How Canada Could Rule the World"
The whole chapter can be found at
http://www.scribd.com/doc/77280699/United-We-Stand-Divided-We-Are

Submitted: February 04, 2012

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Submitted: February 04, 2012

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With Obama the United States still doesn’t live up to its name. Now conservatives are as mad as people on the left were during the last president, and fight efforts to adopt universal, single-payer healthcare. Any plan the president passed would be so diluted from the resistance that it would neither live up to the standards of Canada, the ideals of the president who fought for them, or the hopes of the people that have supported him.

 

In politics, nothing is accomplished without compromise. What people on both the Left and Right need to accept is that the leaders you like never do half of the things you hope they will, and the leaders you hate never do half of the things you fear they will. Politicians might try to make a mosaic out of ideas taken from both conservative and liberal influences, but only out of political necessity. The mosaic can still be missing the intention behind these ideas. There is little indication that the pressures of public interest groups have taught the powers that be anything that they should be enlightened by. 

 

With so many different voices and opinions about the decisions of their leaders, perhaps the closest thing to consensus that we can ever come to is mutual dissatisfaction.

 

With small, uniform countries, it might be easier to accept this, because you can remember why governments are established. It is because we are better off working together than trying to survive in the chaos of anarchy. However, in larger countries it is easier for the costs and the benefits to not be shared equitably. Such a distance can form between people and political authorities that they can feel that even with representation their voices don’t matter. If one person dictates your life we call it “tyranny”. If a hundred million people dictate your life we call it “democracy”.

 

For the sake of their careers, politicians may voice support for one political group at the expense of another. To satisfy their base, they ignore voices of dissent. Sometimes, like Dick Cheney, they rally their supporters by accusing half of the country of treason. With blatant disrespect, they will say we are cowardly, ignorant, or immoral. They might not always agree with you, but if a government official can not respect you, then they can not represent you. And if they can’t represent you, they have no right to authority over you.

 

A sense of Anglo-ethnocentrism in the Canadian government, and disrespect for the French-Canadians, lead the Quebecois to feel like they needed to provide new guards for their future security. Thankfully the fear of division motivated the government to finally give the Francophones the recognition and the respect they deserved. The separatists failed in their stated goal of breaking up the country, but succeeded in helping improve the condition of their chosen constituents. And they have unintentionally been a service to the country as a whole. I am not a vocal proponent for dissolving political unions, but if a union is to be preserved then it must be a just and fair union.

 

A union is more likely to remain fair and just if it recognizes that it is not indivisible. The states or provinces of a union are part of it out of choice, not obligation. Many in the United States feel like we are held together by the latter and that secession is not an option. This makes the government cocky the same way the British once were. Like a vendor who thinks their customers have no choice where to shop will have no motivation to ensure quality products, a government that thinks its citizenry has no choice but accept their authority will have no motivation to remain equitable.

 

Many claim we do have a choice by voting, though we are starting to realize that choice might be an illusion. The smartest dictatorships try and make the people believe they have free choice. The Soviet Union held elections, but the illusion was fairly obvious since the there was only one candidate on the ballot. The U.S. has better upheld the illusion of choice, by having two candidates to vote for, from two cosmetically different political parties. Many Americans are no longer fooled by this charade. It might not be possible to change the status quo of the government through government sanctioned avenues, which means that the threat of secession might still serve a purpose.

 

The United States constitution says nothing that forbids secession. Some state constitutions specifically say that they can secede. Besides, the British forbade secession but the U.S. did it anyway. Governments can neither give nor take away a people’s right to self-determination. They can either acknowledge the truth of it or not.

 

On the eve of the 1995 referendum, I remember an American news reporter speculating on a state in the U.S. someday choosing to leave the Union. If there was any reason to want Quebec’s sovereignty movement to succeed and secede it would be in hopes of states remembering that they are not under the authority of Washington D.C. because they have to be, but because they choose to be.

 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/77280699/United-We-Stand-Divided-We-Are


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