I try and avoid political non-fiction, but having had a phone call with the author, his premise caught my attention. This is a short book making it a fast non-fiction read – but the topic is anything other than light. What Axelman does with this book is layout a detailed case for secession in the United States. As a historian, I found the concept intriguing enough to pick up the book and managed to finish it off in just a few evenings of reading.
To be clear, I don’t personally support the premise. That doesn’t mean that Axelman doesn’t do an admirable job of making his case. There were a few times where I found myself in such agreement with the case he presents that I was actually challenging what I thought; which is what good writing can and should do.
He does a remarkable job of highlighting the philosophical and cultural differences that exist between the left and the right in America. Rather than resolve these, he contends that resolution may not be possible. Thus, the solution, is a division of the United States. He goes so far is to present a new Constitution, which is more Libertarian than traditionally conservative (at least in my opinion).
His case for secession is seductive, because it allows both sides to rule in the manner they desire. He even tackles the roles of the military in such a split, as well as how basic services would be administered.
The author makes his case solidly with prose like: “The United States is becoming increasingly divided and polarized. This polarization is augmented by federal laws that prohibit States from governing themselves. With each passing year, the laws that govern all 300+ million people in the US are becoming more similar, while ignoring how unique we actually are. As time passes, it will become increasingly evident to progressives as well as conservatives that a peaceful dissolution of the union – and independence for each State – is the only way to truly satisfy the dramatically different populations which comprise the union. Consider the avoidance of a violent civil war to be a bonus benefit of secession. If you don’t want to secede, at least give conservatives the nudge they need in order to leave the union.”
Powerful and thought provoking stuff to say the least!
I found myself agreeing with much of the early part of the book, but less with the solution. It didn’t feel right…yet. I stress the ‘yet’ in this. Sometimes this kind of work is dependent on the historical context and current events. While the present-day events don’t necessarily push for the solution that the author presents, that doesn’t mean he is wrong. Having started a book titled Texit, about Texas splitting off as its own nation again, forces me to concede that this line of thinking may very well gain momentum in the politically charged environment that we find ourselves in. If that is the case, then Axelman is a visionary. Only time will tell.
If you have had thoughts along the lines of, “Maybe we should just pack up our stuff and form our own country, with our values,” then this is a book I highly recommend. It is not a piece of fantasy, as evidenced by the extensive footnotes of support. This book grabs you hard, shakes you, forces you to reflect on the world around you, and lays a possible foundation for a roadway to political sanity.