Power & Market

Why Stop at the States? A Republican Form of Secession

American Colony governments were experiments in and innovators in freedom, but state governments haven’t been, and have been even less so in the Progressives’ century-plus since 1894. Here’s a fix for that.

Hyperlocal Secession

Network effects create employment opportunities in metro areas. Within a given area, a person can commute to his job from different kinds of residential areas.

The people who favor the candidates who are the most-constitutionalist that are available have turned out to mostly choose to live in rural areas, exurbs, small suburbs, small urban cores, and large suburbs, and mostly choose to not live in large urban cores.

In more general terms, in every area except in large urban cores the majority of voters currently support the Constitution. Supporting the Constitution essentially means supporting being left alone by governments, by keeping governments constitutionally severely-limited in scope and impact.

The people currently in our governments, though, defy the Constitution, leaving our governments not limited. Majorities of such Progressives are kept in place by the current parties, whose rules and practices strongly favor Progressives.

This impasse would be broken if constitutionalists would separate themselves from the voters currently in the large urban cores and from the representatives currently in the state governments. This could be accomplished by having most of the county representatives in a given state ratify a new county-region constitution that would replace the current state constitution in that new county region.

This would be a surgical approach. Each county’s current legislators would choose whether or not to secede from the state government to institute what would effectively be a new state government of republican form.

A state government of republican form has long been guaranteed by the Constitution to (the residents of) each state and therefore to the residents of each county. But the individual state governments have never delivered on this guarantee, and the national government has never enforced this guarantee.

To deliver on this guarantee, county-region constitutions would need to very-closely follow the archetype given by the Constitution. Having the Constitution as the model would also greatly expedite action.

Choose, Then Observe

Resolutions, ordinances, or laws in support of the Second Amendment have gained political support and passed in 62 percent of counties. County-region constitutions would be a mechanism by which voters could leverage such political popularity to make representatives enact more-comprehensive law that has substantial enforcement power and impact.

To visualize how a county-region secession would play out, consider my state, Missouri. Missouri has a median level of urbanization; it’s the 26th-most-urbanized state. Voters supported Trump over Biden In 97 percent of Missouri counties, with 65 percent of Missouri’s population. These counties include metro St. Louis’s St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Franklin County, Lincoln County, and Warren County, and metro Kansas City’s Clay County, Cass County, and Platte County.

In each of these 97 percent of Missouri counties, voters would likely support breaking through the impasse produced by our Progressive parties and forming a new Constitution-supporting county-region government. (The last county representatives likely to ratify a new county-region constitution might well be those in my own county, St. Charles, in metro St. Louis; large metros’ governments are relatively Progressive.) This would create a sea of freedom.

The only counties and separate city whose voters would likely support remaining in the legacy state government would be metro St. Louis’s St. Louis County and St. Louis City, metro Kansas City’s Jackson County, and college town Columbia’s Boone County. These areas would remain islands of socialism, at first.

Once constitutionalist counties would leave the legacy state government by instituting a new constitutionally-limited county-region government, a genuine experiment would commence. Moves within a metro area are far easier to make than moves from one state to another or moves from one metro area to another. Metro residents would suddenly be able to readily vote with their feet.

Each resident could choose to live either in the new county region or in the legacy state government’s counties. Further, each resident in the legacy-state counties would be able to pressure his state, county, and city governments to limit their scopes or to supply services more efficiently, to compete with the new county region’s considerably-lower taxes and considerably-greater freedom.

This experiment would have not only real teeth and real legs but also real impact. State and local governments together spend about as much as the national government. In the aggregate, this republican form of county-region secession from state governments would quickly restore Constitution-support and constitutional limits to a sizable fraction of our current government. And since this change would make a real alternative available to people in metro areas, this initially-sizable fraction would keep growing. It’s always government people who choose coercion. We the people ourselves always choose freedom.

We have it well within our power to form a more-perfect union. A constitutional optimal path is by seceding from state governments.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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