The Fifty State Solution

Disgusted by the prospect of Hillary Clinton and/or Donald Trump having the power of the presidency? I certainly am. And for full disclosure here, I don’t think any individual should have the powers that have accrued to the president over this country’s development. As has often been stated, “It’s not the abuse of power, it’s the power to abuse” that we should worry about. Even with some substitute candidates we’d still face the power to abuse problem.

But there is one solution to this problem:  Fifty state secession from the United States! Why not? After all, the then 13 states seceded all at once from the British Empire in 1776. And then those 13 United States seceded from the government under the Articles of Confederation with 11 at first and two more separately and later to form the government under the Constitution in 1789-1790. Secession is part of what makes America, America. Secession is as American as apple pie. There are already organized secession movements in a number of states. The strongest of these are in Alaska, Hawaii, California, Texas, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

The fifty states could then create a new government or some number of them could create one new national government while some other number(s) could create each their own government. Allowing parts of the fifty states to establish themselves separately from the others would yield the benefit of better matching citizens’ preferences for what the national government should do. A northeastern state grouping—say of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont—would be able to have the features of a strongly liberal government. The population there could successfully pursue strong gun control, socialized medicine, open immigration, abortion rights, etc. without interference from the more conservative voters in other states.

And a northwestern state grouping—say of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming—would be able to have the features of a strongly conservative government. The population of such a country could successfully pursue strong gun rights, free market medicine, limited immigration, restrictions on abortion, etc. without interference from the more liberal voters in other states.

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State secessions would not mean newly created parts of the country would have to be cut off from other newly created parts of these new countries. In fact free trade, since it benefits each jurisdiction, is likely to be more encouraged than it has been by the current federal government. This is particularly so since businesses already have established dealings with suppliers and customers in other states. Smaller countries have a history of freely trading with other countries and in fact are among the greatest of economic success stories (see Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Monaco, none of which joined the European Union but continued a policy of free trade).

Or what must be the most appealing strategy to the American population; all fifty states could stay in this new union as the New United States and deal with all the issues anew. In any case, the proposed secession here would leave only D.C. and its 16 territories behind to continue under the presidency of Clinton or Trump. And the attendant problems from the history of what has been the U. S. could be left behind: the $20 trillion debt, the fiat money, the interventionist blowback, and the crony trade treaties and regulations. The seceding states would not be burdened by the additional disasters that will inevitably come from a Clinton or Trump presidency.

To deal with all of the federally owned land and other assets in the states, the states could do a reverse eminent domain on the feds. Properties currently owned by the federal government could be bought by the states or private owners at a price that the states each find as constituting just compensation.

Fifty state secession is a historically validated solution to current problems. It is a real world solution to the Trump/Clinton problem America is facing.

Jim Cox is a retired professor of Economics and Political Science living in Tucker, Georgia.