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Boychuk: Talk of secession is foolish

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney react

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney react on election night in Boston. (Nov. 6, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Every four years or so, a sizeable minority of Americans — sometimes upward of 49 percent or even more — wake up the morning after Election Day to a country they claim not to recognize.

The thought of four more years of an Obama “recovery,” the implementation of the president’s ghastly health insurance law, and the prospect of a judiciary remade along left-liberal lines — it’s too much for many Republicans to bear.

Rather than suffer the indignity of living under this man’s administration as more and more of our God-given liberties fall away under an ever more regulatory state, wouldn’t it be better simply to part company? No, it would not.

Petulance is a two-way street, of course. Eight years ago, millions of Democrats woke up to the horror of George W. Bush’s second term. Red America was suddenly “Jesusland.” San Franciscans became more smug and insufferable. And soon, people like Kirkpatrick Sale and Lawrence O’Donnell were in the pages of the left-wing Nation magazine and on cable television making an earnest case — or whining, depending on your point of view — for a “blue-state secession.”

It was foolish talk then, and it’s even more foolish now.

We lost an election. Our liberties are always in jeopardy, regardless of which party has the majority. The country will be a different place in four years. Very possibly, Republicans won’t have the presidency again for a generation. That’s politics.

None of those things justifies secession, which is, as the very first Republican president put it, “the essence of anarchy.”

“A majority,” Abraham Lincoln said in his first inaugural address in 1861, “held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or despotism.”

Republicans are not well suited to anarchy. For conservatives, now is not the time to lose faith in the Constitution and the principles of America’s founding. Nothing lasts forever — certainly not republics. But silly secession fantasies are nothing more than preemptive surrender.

Ben Boychuk is associate editor of City Journal.


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