Greg Szymanski / The Global Eye Express & Hon Harry Reid / US COngress – 2005-11-10 22:46:22
Historic Vermont Meeting in State Capital Passes Resolution to Secede from the US
Greg Szymanski / The Global Eye Express
WASHINGTON, DC (November 2, 2005 ) — The neo-con band of criminals running Washington, trampling on civil rights at home and invading countries at will overseas, has led a large group of strong-minded Vermont freedom-fighters with no choice but to secede from the United States.
And last Friday at the state capital building in Montpelier, a historic independence convention was held, the first of its kind in the United States since May 20, 1861, when South Carolina decided to leave the Union.
A packed House Chamber in the Vermont statehouse, with more than 400 gathered, started the daylong secession convention with a speech by keynote James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, and ended with a resolution passed to secede from the United States.
Most people think of secession as impossible if not treasonous, but the concept is deeply rooted in the Declaration of Independence, reminding us that “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and to institute new government.”
And with the neo-con takeover of Washington, including all its branches of government transforming America into a one-party dictatorship, that’s exactly what the resolution passed in Vermont seeks to do by members of grassroots movement growing in numbers daily.
Although the resolution is the first step in the long process that needs support from the state legislators – as well as an officially recognized convention – the grass roots group called the Second Vermont Republic passed the following citizen’s resolution:
“Be it resolved that the state of Vermont peacefully and democratically free itself from the United States of America and return to its natural status as an independent republic as it was between January 15, 1777 and March 4, 1791.”
Even though critics give the secession group ‘a snowball’s chance in hell,’ organizers are firmly convinced in the present-day tyrannical political climate secession will not only succeed but will prosper.
‘This could only happen in Vermont where people are still fiercely independent and fed up with the course the American government is taking,” said Thomas Naylor, the head of the group calling itself the Second Republic of Vermont. “We have a lot going for us and if you think about it, we have a lot in common with Poland’s Solidarity movement, who many said would never succeed.
“But Poland did get its freedom, mainly because it was a country liked around the world, sort of like how people in America feel about Vermont. When people think of Vermont, they have a warm and fuzzy feeling, an image of black and white Holstein cows and beautiful scenery. I can also tell you there is now closet support in the legislature now and we are serious about getting the support needed to secede from the United States.’
Naylor, a former Duke University economics professor, said from his Vermont home this week that statewide independence is really a euphemism for secession, adding Vermont also will seek to join the group of Unrepresented Nations similar to the Lakota Indians and other international indigenous people.
“Secession is one of the most politically charged words in America, thanks to Abraham Lincoln,” said Naylor, adding he had been writing about secession for the better part of 10 years but the movement picked up tremendous steam after 9/11. “Secession really combines a radical act of rebellion grounded in fear and anger with a positive vision for the future.
“It represents an act of faith that the new will be better than the old. The decision to secede necessarily involves a very personal, painful four-step decision process. It first involves denunciation that the United States has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable, ungovernable and unfixable.
Second, there is disengagement or admitting ‘I don’t want to go down with the Titanic.
Third, there is demystification that secession really is a viable option constitutionally, politically and economically. And finally, defiance, saying ‘I personally want to help take Vermont back from big business, big markets and big government and I want to do so peacefully.’”
What started out as Naylor’s little fantasy to have an independent country made up of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, has already grown from a small group of 36 several years ago to a packed House Chamber in the state’s capital. Claiming to have a membership of 160 as of last April, Naylor said the numbers have doubled or even tripled.
“”I’m getting calls from all over the country supporting our movement,” said Naylor. “Although there are more than 20 states with some kind of secession movement, Alaska and Hawaii being the best examples, I think Vermont really has the best chance at succeeding at seceding.”
Besides holding the Vermont independence convention in Montpelier, the smallest state capital city in the United States, it also has the reputation as being the most fiercely independent and anti- big business, being the only one not allowing a McDonald’s in the entire country.
“First and foremost, we want out of the United States. It’s not just an anti-Bush statement and if Kerry was elected, we still would have wanted out,” said Naylor. “The reality is that we have a one party system in this country, called the Republican party, that is owned and operated and controlled by corporate America. So it’s not just a Bush protest, but a protest against the Empire.
Although many critics have said the mighty U.S. would not stand for Vermont’s secession, Naylor as will as others disagree, including Jim Hogue, a talk show host on Vermont Public radio.
“There’s nothing they would want here. There’s no oil, just mountains. We’re just not important enough. We’re funny, we’re small and we’re peaceful,” said Hogue several months ago in an article in the Montreal Gazette.
With most Vermont politicians, including the Congressional delegation, ignoring the grassroots secession movement or just laughing it off as good theatre, Vermont’s Lt. Gov., Brian Dubie, has weighed in on the issue, giving it a certain amount of merit but stopping short of outright support.
“I really salute their energy and passion,” he said in a local press interview. “we have an obligation to think of what is in our best interest as a state and for the people of out state, even as we approach federal and national issues.”
Besides Naylor and Kuntsler, others who spoke at the Oct. 28 independence convention included Professor Frank Bryan of the University of Vermont; Kirkpatrick Sale, author of Human Scale; J. Kevin Graffagnino, executive director of theVermont Historical Society; Professor Eric Davis, Middlebury College; Shay Totten, editor of the Vermont Guardian; and Dr. Rob Williams of Champlain College.
Seceding Seldom Succeeds, but Vermonters Try
Josh Burek / The Christian Science Monitor
MONTPELIER, VT.(November 8, 2005) — Politics, like fall foliage, turns faster in Vermont. The state was out front opposing slavery and first to approve civil unions. And if the activists who met here last month succeed, the state will set another precedent: first to secede since 1861.
No, this wasn’t a clandestine meeting of militants. It was a convention for Vermonters, held in the plush, gold-domed capitol.
And its keynote — that separating from the United States is a just remedy for the federal government’s trampling of state sovereignty — is echoing beyond the snow-capped Green Mountains.
From Hawaii to South Carolina, dozens of groups across America are promoting a similar cause. Their efforts aren’t politically popular — yet. But they are reviving one of the most passionate debates in US history: Can a state legally secede?
For the Second Vermont Republic (SVR), the group that hosted the convention, the answer is “yes.”
“If we had a right to join the Union, we certainly have a right to disband from it,” SVR founder Thomas Naylor told the assembly. In his view, Vermonters should join the cause if they:
• Say the US has lost moral authority and is unsustainable, ungovernable, and unfixable.
• Want to help take back Vermont from big business, big markets, and big government — and do so peacefully.
Other Separatist Groups
Naylor’s talking points aren’t unique to Vermont. Separatist groups with diverse causes share the view that the federal government has grown too big and too powerful. Many say obedience to the Constitution would restore America’s lost liberty. But some insist that the federal government long ago overstepped its constitutional powers, leaving secession as a valid recourse.
“Separatism is a Christian principle,” says Cory Burnell, president of Christian Exodus, which aims to relocate thousands of Christian constitutionalists to South Carolina to “redeem” that state’s government. “We talk about secession as potentially necessary because history has demonstrated that where one people stand up, there tends to be another people to rule over them.”
The Free State Project (FSP) is another group determined to reclaim constitutional liberty. Its libertarian members have pledged to move to New Hampshire to restore limited government.
But FSP is not promoting secession, which, according to spokeswoman Amanda Phillips, usually has caused more problems than it has solved.
“We can accomplish our goals by working within the constitutional framework,” she says.
FSP’s reluctance to rock the boat points to a major obstacle US separatists face: public uneasiness about secession.
Two Views of Secession
Ever since the Civil War, many Americans view secession the way President Lincoln did: as an unlawful act of rebellion by the slave-holding Confederate States. Indeed, Lincoln saw it as a tyrannical threat to the principle of democracy.
But movements like SVR counter with two points. First, they argue that secession is a continuing theme from America’s formative years. And second, they say that Lincoln was not a noble savior of the Union, but a racist warmonger intent on strengthening federal authority.
To mine intellectual capital for these ideas, Yankee-based SVR has dug deep into what critics call the neo-Confederate vein of Southern ideology. The group has promoted the work of scholars affiliated with the League of the South, which advocates greater autonomy for the Southern states.
One of them, Donald Livingston, a professor of philosophy at Atlanta’s Emory University, wrote a cover story — “What Is Secession?” — for the Vermont Commons newsletter, in which he philosophically defended the principle.
The 15 states that left the Soviet Union beginning in 1991, Dr. Livingston says, show that secession can be a peaceful instrument to dissolve an empire that’s become dangerously large.
“The public corporation known as the United States is too large,” he says. “It needs to be downsized like any other corporation.”
Secession was a vital part of American history, Livingston and others say. New England, for instance, tried to secede several times, most notably in 1814 over the war with Britain. The Declaration of Independence, they insist, was a secessionist document — not a
revolutionary appeal to natural rights, as other historians maintain. And the right of secession, they argue, is implied in the 10th Amendment.
“The right to coerce a state in the Union is not delegated to the federal government,” says Mr. Burnell of Christian Exodus.
At Odds with Lincoln
Delegates in Montpelier didn’t accept these arguments entirely. One man rose to express admiration for Lincoln, whose statue sits in the state house lobby. How could he support a position, he wondered aloud, that Lincoln fought so hard to oppose?
Indeed, Lincoln was adamant. He held as sacred the right of a people to overthrow a government that violates what the Declaration of Independence called the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”
But secession, he proclaimed, was not an exercise of minority rights; rather, it was an attempt to nullify majority rule — a cornerstone of a democratic constitutional republic. A government that allowed a fraction of its citizens to reject its authority any time that community dissented from majority rule would be no government at all.
“Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy,” Lincoln said at his first inaugural address in 1861.
Furthermore, Lincoln felt secession was based on an erroneous claim about the nation’s founding. In the secession view, expounded by South Carolina Sen. John Calhoun in the 1840s and echoed by SVR’s Naylor today, the Union was a voluntary compact among sovereign states, which can be broken.
“The other view is no, the Constitution is not a pact among states; it is a contract among all people in the nation — it’s an irreversible commitment,” says Stephen Presser, a legal historian at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
Questions of Legality
Today, most experts say states have no legal right to secede. “To exercise the right of secession requires a violation of national law,” says Herman Belz, a professor of history at the University of Maryland.
That didn’t stop some frustrated voters in blue states from urging secession after President Bush won reelection last November. Nor will it stop SVR, which pledges to use all nonviolent means for Vermont to become “independent.”
In fact, the group is already thinking nationally, with founder Naylor and author Kirkpatrick Sale teaming up to form the Middlebury Institute, a think tank devoted to secession.
Observers and SVR devotees alike say it will be difficult to gain popular support. “[SVR is] very sincere, but it has absolutely no chance of happening,” says Eric Davis, a professor of political science at Vermont’s Middlebury College.
But SVR takes inspiration from the history implied in its name. Vermont was an independent republic once before, between 1777 and 1791.
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