The National Whig

Serving to make the United States better by arguing for Liberty and its best ingredient Limited Government.

Location: Any Towne, Any State, United States

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Secession, the Palins and Leftists' Short-term Memory

The selection of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as John McCain's vice presidential runningmate has brought to the surface an issue that has not been mentioned in the United States for some one hundred sixty years. Thanks, in part, to the Liberal media the issue of secession has been brought up as a serious offense by Sarah Palin given her husband's seven year long affiliation with the Alaskan Independence Party from 1995 to 2002. The AIP's primary goal is to win enough seats in the Alaskan legislature and bring to a vote seceeding from the United States. But Sarah Palin is not the only one involved in this presidential race with connections to secession. Both of the Democrats on the top of that Party's presidential ticket have voted for a bill that would allow for the secession of the state of Hawaii.

The bill that would pave the way for Hawaii to seceed from the Union was sponsored by Democrat Senator Daniel Akaka back in 2006 and it was voted on during the summer of 2006. It failed to reach the 60 votes required to bring it to the floor of Senate by a vote of 56 to 41, and among those fifty-six yea votes were Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Now the Akaka bill, as it is known, is not overtly secessionist, for all it does is allow for native Hawaiians to from their own government based on race, but its author in Senate admits that it could very well lead to secession. During the lead up to the vote and its aftermath there wasn't a whole lot of talk in the media about Akaka being anti-American, as there is today with Palin. And of course, there is not any mention by the press about Obama or Biden being anti-American either for their votes in the affirmative on the bill. But rest assured Sarah Palin is not and will not be given the same type of benefit of the doubt when it comes to her patriotism.

In an L.A. Times piece penned by staff writer Michael Finnegan not only is the AIP made out to be a bunch of kooks, but so is Palin and her husband. Finnegan writes, "With McCain's campaign emphasizing patriotism -- his latest slogan is 'Country First' -- the Palins' links...could prove awkward." Although Mr. Finnegan never asks or reports on anyone asking about Obama's lack of emphasis on patriotism, he sees fit to question McCain's and Palin's when neither of the two have gotten as close as Obama or Biden to actually succeeding in allowing a state to leave the union.

The premise behind the "anti-American" label if you support secession is wrong. Secession is a means used when states feel affronted by the federal government outside of the stipulations of the Constitution. Secession has been linked to slaveholders, and, as such, has been discredited as a fringe, racist action. However, it should be noted that the first attempts at secession in the United States were by northerners agitated over the issue of taxation. The best philosophical explaination for supporting secession was brought forth by John C. Calhoun--Andrew Jackson's vice president--following a tariff that had pernicious economic outcomes for his home state of South Carolina. In his epic book,
The Rise of American Democracy, Sean Wilentz explains Calhoun's philosphy thus: "The only cure for majority despotism, Calhoun argued, was to recognize the undivided sovereignty of the individual states that, he asserted, was anterior to the Constitution. Just as the federal government could annul any state law ruled binding, so aggrieved states could void, within their borders, any federal law they deemed unconstitutional. Should three-quarters of the states then fail to revise the Constitution, under the amending power, to make the offending law constitutional, the nullifying state would have the option of seceeding from the Union. Calhoun would always insist nullification was not secession, which was literally true. But in seizing on the theory of original state sovereignty, he offered a theoretical justification for both nullification and secession." In essence, what Calhoun is saying is that when a state feels coerced into doing something emplemented by a majority in the federal legislature, but deems the act unconstitutional, it can act, first, by rectifying the unconstitutionality of the majority or, second having the first option failed, can leave the Union all together.

This is exact reasoning behind the Alaskan Independence Party. Back to Finnegan's
L.A. Times piece: "Leaders of the party say many of its 13,681 registered members have joined out of frustration over restrictions that the federal government has placed on the use of its vast land holdings in Alaska. Beyond the secession vote, the party also advocates gun rights, home schooling and abolition of property taxes." The members of the AIP feel affronted by the federal government and, knowing that the federal government will never be made to act under the Constitution, they have resolved to convincing their fellow Alaskans that secession is the better course of action. This philosophy runs true for Hawaii as well. For the Alaskans, it is not so much that they want to be governed outside of the Constitution, but that they feel that they are not being governed that way and as such must leave the jurisdiction of the federal government, a reasonable course of action.

The media are making a lot of noise about Sarah Palin's husband being connected to the AIP, a group that the media have labeled anti-American. But it cannot be forgotten that Obama and Biden, both Democrats, have supportted a bill on the Senate floor that would, as the bill's sponsor admits, lead to the secession of Hawaii. It is likely that this issue will not stick, and the American people will receive Sarah Palin hospitably. But it also must be stated that secession is not anti-American, particularly when it is pursued as a means to get back to being governed under the auspices of the United States Constitution. Let us not forget that the whole reason for the existence of the United States comes from our separation from England as articulated by Thomas Jefferson: "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 a 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."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Amidst Success, Utter Failure

In most aspects of life success will breed interest. For instance, prior to winning their first World Series in 86 years, fans of the Boston Red Sox were quarantined in the North East while the Yankees, winners of twenty-five percent of all World Serieses, controlled the masses of fans. After having won two Serieses in the past five years, the stock of the Red Sox has risen drastically. There are even BoSox fans in Pensacola Florida. But in the political world success is the midwife of insouciance. In politics, no one is willing to discuss an issue that has been successfully resolved. In fact, it is rare to see an issue successfully resolved dominate the frontpages of newspapers or the lead segment of news programs, falling under the old adage of the news business of "if it bleeds, it leads." Iraq, once a media drumbeat of failure now turned toward complete success, is certainly among this phenomenon.

The number one indicator that Iraq--and on a more general scale the War on Terror--has been moved, not to the back burner of politics but, off of the stove completely is where this issue falls in regards to importance for voters in this year's presidential election cycle. The latest polls show that the economy is the number one issue by far with anything remotely close to terrorism barely garnering over ten percent of the voters' concern. Some polls even show that Republicans are overwhelmingly more concerned about the economy than they are about terrorism. This sentiment among the voters is the primary reason why there is a good chance that a candidate that they view as woefully unqualified and inexperienced--Barack Obama--is running just a few points ahead of John McCain in most polls. Many view Obama can do a better job of steering the economy in the right direction than McCain can, while it is just the opposite in regards to terrorism. (Nevermind the fact that the economy is actually doing well with the last quarter showing GDP growth of 3.3 percent.)

The reason for this nonchalant attitude toward Iraq/War on Terror is the overwhelming success that there has been over the past three years. In Iraq, today marks yet another major advancement towards success as the US has handed over control of Anbar province to the Iraq government. The BBC reports that this will mark the handing over of controll of eleven of the eighteen provinces to the Iraqis. A major step forward in Iraq. Couple this with talk of there being a major military pull out of US troops from Iraq by 2011 and it becomes clear why Obama can get away with saying that he will completely pull us out of Iraq within his first two years of office. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan there has been a drastic decline in the harvest of poppies--a key ingredient to heroin--that has hurt the ability to fund terror operations in Afghanistan. Granted Afghanistan still needs help, but there have been many successes in the still fledgling country.

The biggest failure in the War on Terror has been the inability of the Bush administration to keep the focus of the American voter fixed on the task at hand while the mainstream press has done everything in its power to push it to the peripheral and replace it with stories of an ailing economy. Again, looking at the polls one might say that the media has accomplished that task. Of course part of the Bush administration's problem stems from two-thirds of the American people holding a rather low opinion of the administration, and as such, making it rather difficult to get the good news out about Iraq and Afghanistan. When people glaze over with disapproval, they are real quick to not hear anything that is being said. It is going to take the next President to explain what is going on in the Middle East.

Not since 2003 has there been a sense that the American military has been on the offensive and completing any of its objectives. Unlike 2003 though, the American people are not paying any attention to these successes. They are wrapped up in the so-called ailing economy, the emergence of the Messiah-like Obama and McCain's pick of Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his runningmate. It is often stated that success has a million fathers. That is only true if you are discussing successes outside of the political arena, where success is as much an orphan as corruption. This is the reality of politics in America, it is as much a fixture of our culture as baseball is. Which begs the question, how many games back behind Tampa Bay is the Red Sox?