Civics 101

Lately there have been a number of letters concerning the nature of the United States, states’ rights especially secession, and possible political consequences foreseen by a writer as regards GOP attempts to change allocation of electoral votes.

The United States is not a Confederation, nor has it been intended to be such since 1787. The Constitution replaced a Confederation with a Union. Its preamble starts, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union” A failing confederation existed under the Articles of Confederation. The new constitution adopted in 1787 replaced that Confederation with a Union governed as a Republic. A union is, “a political unit constituting an organic whole formed from usually independent units which have surrendered their principal powers to the government of the whole or a newly created government”. (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary) A republic is “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote, and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to the citizens and governing according to law”. (MW) The United States is a Union governed as a Republic, or more commonly, a Republic. The States in adopting the Constitution, or in joining the Union, give up some essential powers of sovereign states. The States are forbidden the powers to: “enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation, without the consent of Congress, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay” (Art. I, Sec 10).

Is the United States a confederation from which a state may secede? Reread the preceding text. Can a state secede from the Union? It was tried in 1861. The answer was finalized in 1865 after 600,000 lives were lost. The answer is NO. They may revolt, if they can sustain a rebellion.

Will metropolitan areas secede from their states if anyone changes the manner of allocating electors? Not likely. First, they must get the consent of the state government. Second, they must get the consent of Congress. Section III of the Article IV lays out rules for forming and admitting states to the Union. Do the math! In the spirit of federalism, I suggest allocating the electors as follows: one each to the winner of the popular vote in each congressional district, one for winning the majority of said districts, one for winning the state-wide popular vote. This would force parties and candidates to widen their bases.

William C. Dincher


Submitted by Virtual Newsroom