Posted on October 10, 2008

The American Secessionist Streak

Christopher Ketcham, Los Angeles Times, September 10, 2008


[Sarah] Palin’s husband was a member of the AIP for seven years, and Palin herself has courted the AIP for more than a decade. {snip}

The thing is, it’s not just residents of the Last Frontier who favor breaking away from the Union. According to a Zogby poll conducted in July, more than 20% of U.S. adults — one in five, about the same number of American Colonists who supported revolt against England in 1775 — agreed that “any state or region has the right to peaceably secede from the United States and become an independent republic.” Some 18% “would support a secessionist effort in my state.”

The motivation of these quiet revolutionaries? As many as 44% of those polled agreed that “the United States’ system is broken and cannot be fixed by traditional two-party politics and elections.”

Put this in stark terms: In a scientific, random sample poll of all Americans, almost half considered the current political system to be in terminal disorder. One-fifth would countenance a dissolution of the bond. This is not a hiccup of opinion. In an October 2006 poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corp. and broadcast on CNN, 71% of Americans agreed that “our system of government is broken and cannot be fixed.”

No surprise that the disquiet finds a voice in popular movements. In 2007, a small group of delegates to the second North American secessionist convention–the first was in Burlington, Vt., in 2006–met in Chattanooga, Tenn., to discuss how to foment the collapse and destruction of the United States of America. {snip}

The dominant idea among the delegates was that the U.S. experiment had failed; it had become impractical, tragically ridiculous, its leaders and institutions bought off, whored out, unaccountable and unanswerable to the needs of citizens. The United States would have to be reborn smaller–our loyalties realigned to the needs of localities–if the American dream was to survive. The convention presented, in effect, a marriage of progressives, paleo-conservatives, libertarians, Christian separatists, Southern nationalists, all united “to put an end to the American empire and reestablish freedom and democracy on the state and regional level,” as organizer Kirkpatrick Sale put it.

The delegates settled on a list of principles they called the Chattanooga Declaration. “The deepest questions of human liberty and government facing our time go beyond right and left, and in fact have made the old left-right split meaningless and dead,” the declaration read. “The privileges, monopolies and powers that private corporations have won from government threaten . . . health, prosperity and liberty, and have already killed American self-government by the people.” The answer, it went on, was that the American states “ought to be free and self-governing.”