Having been a dilettante student of history my entire life, as I studied the Roman Empire and the British Empire and the Spanish and Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires, as well as the fall of the Soviet Union, I often found myself wondering when, if, and how the United States, a rather large conglomeration of various states and peoples, would ultimately bow to the inevitable fate of all empires. But now there is a new twist– I am wondering if it might happen a whole lot sooner than I expected.
As politicians and my fellow citizens do as they do these days, I get the sense that there is a presumption that the Constitution, and this union of 50 states, will go on forever no matter what. History says this is not likely.
A number of scenarios go through my mind. One is a financial crisis where the Federal Government can no longer pay its bills . . . After all, we have already experienced numerous “government shut downs” recently, this would just be a slightly bigger version. Another scenario is where the red-blue polarization gets so crazy that individual states start to drop out.
It could be a “black swan,” like, say, a plague of some fast moving virus that wipes out much of the population. And I could easily see a voter initiative creating our own version of Brexit, e.g., Californexit, or Texit.
If individual states, or groups of states, decide that they would be better off out of the union, well, with Lincoln not in office, if the remaining states see an opportunity of taking over congress by letting the states of New England, or California, or New York leave, well, nowadays I don’t think anything that could give certain folks the added power they seek would be rejected out of hand.
It is important to remember two things: One, Vladimir Putin would love to see the United states fracture the same way the USSR did, and he is doing everything he can to make that happen; and second, let’s remember that any such fracturing might call for a brand new Constitution in your current locale, and you can’t assume that any of the current Constitution would make the leap. Gun rights? Freedom of the press? Civil rights? No guarantees. And also remember that your social security money and medicare could disappear overnight as well.
There are many people, both at home at abroad, that would love to have their individual power be magnified by the disappearance of the Federal Government. People who want to starve the Federal Government of tax income, those who throw it into massive debt, those who simply don’t vote, and those who are stretching the limits of the law, thinking their individual corrupt acts will not sink the ship . . . I wonder if they realize that if the Constitution is a living document, it can also die.
When the folks in Charleston fired on Fort Sumpter, no one could imagine Atlanta burning. I always figured the USA would someday go the way of Ancient Rome or the USSR, but now I am wondering if it will happen in my lifetime.