Monday, May 26, 2014
I submitted this letter to the Richmond Times-Dispatch in reference to their editorial in today's edition:
In today's edition of the Times-Dispatch your editorial - "Secession? We the..." you state that, "Ignorance of history leads to distortions of the past." I respectfully submit that you have fallen prey to your own admonition.
You further state - "The assumption [Emphasis mine] seems to be that the federal government was created by the states, which retain the right to leave a structure they formed." The "assumption?" Perhaps you should avail yourself of the history surrounding the ratification process of our Constitution. Among the states that hesitated to ratify were Virginia and New York. Their state representatives insisted on two things; the first was a Bill of Rights, assuring the rights of the individual. The second was an assurance that this new Union was a "voluntary" Union, which they could leave if it became destructive of that state’s rights. In the Declaration of Independence this is addressed quite clearly - "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." I'm not sure how you read that, but it is clear to me that it means the people have a right to leave any form of government that they deem destructive of their rights and liberty.
Now, we can argue about the propriety of secession in today's world and whether or not it is a wise move to make, but there can be no doubt that our Founders intended that the people have the right to make such a decision. It should also be noted that the meeting in Philadelphia, that you allude to, was not originally known to those attending to be for the purpose of creating a new government. The majority attending did so believing that they were there to "tweak" the existing Articles of Confederation, not to scrap them and start anew. The Founders, in the Constitution, gave the federal government seventeen enumerated powers and no more. The fact that the federal government now has assumed a great deal more than those seventeen is a reflection on the ignorance of the electorate and the lust for power by the political class.
You finish by speaking of the people, as opposed to the states. Well, who comprises those states if not the people? Yes, the Constitution speaks of a “more perfect Union,” but if the people in their respective states do not have the right to decide whether or not to remain in a Union that is destructive of their rights and liberties, then that Union is far from perfect and should, in fact, be divisible, if the people so desire.