Thom Hartmann interview

Day, which is Latin for “the voice of God.”, his
website; Christian libertarian; author of several books, including A
Throne Of Bones
, just out today. The blog is “Vox Popoli”, which would be the voice of the people. So, Voice of God, welcome.

VOX DAY: Thanks, Tom.
TH: Great to have you with us. You are a self-professed secessionist. Explain this to me.
VD: The way that I would begin it is that I would say that I favor
self-determination for all peoples, whether they’re American, whether
they’re Scottish, whether they’re Catalonian…
TH: You know, any person, including yourself, can hop on a plane and
go to any other country, and if you can get them to take you, you’re
VD: I am. I’ve lived in Europe for 13, 14 years now
TH: Ok. So, you know . . . what’s the problem?
VD: I don’t have any problem, it’s simply an intellectual
thing. It’s simply understanding that, throughout the course of human
history, it is entirely normal for groups of people to come together for
a period of time, and then break apart after a while.  You
know, this is a pattern of history that has existed for as
long as man has written these things down. In fact, in that new novel
that you mentioned, it’s based on the Roman social war of 91BC, which
was, essentially, a secessionist movement, even though they ended up
joining the empire after all.
So you’re suggesting … let’s translate this into simple English. Are
you suggesting that the citizens of any particular state, on a majority
vote, should be able to simply withdraw themselves from the union as
states did in 1860?
VD: Of course. We’re seeing it happen right now in Scotland. We think it’s unthinkable because America is such a short-lived….
But Scotland has historically been a separate country. And, they have
profoundly different . . . I spent a fair amount of time in Scotland.
And it’s a very different culture from British culture. And they have
fought wars over the years. I mean, you know, what’s his name, the crazy
actor, Mel Gibson, made a movie out of one of them.  I
mean, they fought wars with the British. England, historically, was a
separate country, just because they happened to be on the same island.
And you could argue that the only reason Scotland was part of the United
Kingdom was because they were conquered, and now they’re “unconquering” themselves.  That’s very different from states voluntarily joining a union like we have here in the United States.
But they weren’t conquered. They came together as part of the voluntary
Acts of Union from 1707. Their voluntarily, democratically-supported
union has lasted more than twice as long as the history of the United
States [Union].(1)  And so, we’re seeing this all over the world.  We’re
seeing Catalonia, which has been part of Castilian Spain for even
longer than Scotland’s been part of the United Kingdom, voting, again democratically, left and right joining together, to vote the secessionists into power.…
Right. But, again, don’t you think that that’s because they’re sick and
tired of Spain being part of the EU, and thus having lost their
national sovereignty, and so they’re going to claim their own national
sovereignty and withdraw themselves from the EU?
That might be the case with the Catalonians. That’s not the case with
the Scottish. The Scottish actually want to get out of the United
Kingdom, and then join  the EU in their own right which….
TH: Which seems crazy to me.
It’s totally crazy to me, too. But that’s the whole point about
self-determination. What is it to us as Americans or whatever we might
be …
So do you think Lincoln should have just said when the South seceded,
even before… A number of the states seceded after he was elected but
before he was installed into office, because back then the elections
were in November and you were sworn into office in March. And during
that time, you had a bunch of states that said, “Ok, that’s it, we’re
out of here”… that he should have just said, “Goodbye”?
Oh, absolutely. In fact, the interesting thing is that before Lincoln,
about, maybe, 30 years before that, the secessionist states were the New
England states. They were the ones who were talking about seceding. I
don’t recall what the deal was, why they were interested. But it was
never really questioned that a state had the right to voluntarily leave
the union because, otherwise, if they didn’t have the right to
voluntarily leave, then it was just another militarily imposed empire.
TH: But that right is not laid out in the constitution.
VD: I’m sorry?
TH: That right is not laid out in the constitution.
Well, no, because the constitution has to do with the rights of the
federal government. It doesn’t have anything to do with the rights of
the states. If you’re writing a document limiting the federal
TH: Well, actually, it does. It gives the federal government, for example, the right to regulate commerce between the states.
VD: Sure.
It says how states shall apportion their electors. It says how states
shall determine the number of representatives they’re sending to
Washington, DC. There are a lot of rules for the states in the

VD: And those are all things that have to do with the operation of the
federal government. It doesn’t have anything to do with the operation of
the sovereign and several states.  Obviously, when you join a group, you agree to abide by the rules of that group.

So if Texas secedes, and becomes the independent nation of Texas, what
happens to those Americans in Texas who consider themselves Americans
who don’t want secession?
Well, presumably in a democratic country, in a free and democratic
country, those people would either have to decide if they wanted to stay
and accept it, the same way that the people in America at the time of
the revolutionary war …  You know,
many them either moved to Canada, or moved back to England, or in some
cases they just decided to stay and become Americans. It would be up to
them, and presumably the Texans would be focused enough on freedom that
they would let those people do whatever it was they wanted.
TH: What is it about the United States that …  first of all, what state do you live in?
VD: I don’t. Like I said, I’ve lived in Italy for 13 years.
TH: So you live in Italy right now?
VD: Yeah. I used to live in Minnesota.
In Minnesota. So… you really don’t have a dog in this fight. Doesn’t
that diminish your credibility somewhat in making these kind of
statements? I mean, this isn’t going to affect you.
Well, no, of course it’s going to affect me in the sense that I have friends and family there. I mean, I wouldn’t say that…
Would you say about somebody who lived in the states who has family back
in Scotland that they have no … Of course there’s an interest. But my
primary interest in this, as in practically everything, is primarily
intellectual.  Am I going to shed
any massive tears if Catalonia breaks away from Spain? No. Am I going to
be terribly upset if Texas decides to be independent? No. If you
support self-determination for one group of people in the world, you
should support it for everyone. And why shouldn’t Americans have the
same right of self-determination that we support for the people in
Libya, for the people in Egypt, for the people…
But most of the states who are talking about secession are states that,
for every dollar that they send to Washington, DC, they get back $1.10,
$1.20, $1.30. Texas gets more federal money in than they send out. So
when they secede, first of all, all the military bases in the state
would close. And that’s not even included in that equation that I just
shared with you. Secondly, everybody loses their Social Security,
Medicare, Medicaid, all those other things.  How is that state going to exist?
VD: First of all, Texas is not going to have any trouble existing,
because Texas is, would be one of the, I believe, twenty largest
economies in the world, thirty largest economies in the world. I mean,
if …
TH: Not without federal infrastructure.
Obviously it might not be quite as easy for them. But whether it is or
not, that’s their right to say. It’s not for you or me to decide. If
Delaware, for example … let’s take the most absurd example … Delaware
would be like, … Lichtenstein or something. Now, you wouldn’t think that they would have any business going independent.
But if they want to go independent and live in grass huts and that sort
of thing, what is that to you or me? That’s what freedom is all about,
is allowing people freedom to make stupid choices.
Well, you make a very compelling and libertarian argument…. Hm.
Interesting. I wonder if this is going to be THE thing for the
Republican Party.

(1)  Just to be clear, I can do the math.  I was referring to the post-1865 Union that was forcibly imposed, not the voluntary one that lasted from 1776 to 1861.