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Ron Paul stands with secessionists. But how many are there, really?

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a bastion of secessionist sentiment, issued a statement in defense of state petitions to secede from the US, citing American 'principles of self-governance.'

By Staff Writer / November 20, 2012

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks in Tampa, Fla. in August 2012.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Rep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas may be retiring from Congress but he still knows how to stir a pot, metaphorically speaking. In the latest example of his ability to get people talking he’s issued a statement that’s supportive of state petitions to secede from the US.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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You’ve heard about those petitions, right? They’re on a section of the White House website intended to allow citizens the ability to express their opinions about the direction of the US government. Disgruntled voters have now initiated petitions for each of the 50 states to withdraw from the union. The one for Texas has the most signatures – 115,751 the last time we looked.

Anyway, all this got Congressman Paul thinking. “Is it treasonous to want to secede from the United States?” he writes.

While many people might think this question was answered by the Civil War, the “principles of self-governance and voluntary association are at the core of our founding,” Paul argues. He adds that if secession is off the table, there’s nothing to stop the federal government from continuing to encroach on individual liberties.

“Consider the ballot measures that passed in Colorado and Washington State regarding marijuana laws,” Paul writes, pointing out that the residents of those states have indicated they want pot policy to be different than the federal government's.

"At what point should the people dissolve the political bands which have connected them to an increasingly tyrannical and oppressive federal government?" Paul concludes.

Well, we’ve got a couple of comments here. The first is that, yes, for all practical purposes the Civil War did settle this question. But we’ll move past that since Paul is just writing rhetorically here. He notes that he has no expectation Texas is really going to secede.

The second is that this argument appears to greatly discount the power of democracy. Without the threat of secession, there’s nothing to stop the gradual slide toward a police state? That would mean elections don’t matter. Why bother to have them?

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