DATE: 11/10/2004 09:00:00 AM
Secessionitis - One of my favorite documentary series is "The Civil War," Ken Burns' amazing look at the War Between the States and the people that fought it. Burns uses President Lincoln's words in one episode to describe the feeling of "secessionitis" that blazed through the South just before the war began. A similar feeling seems to be infecting prominent liberal writers following the election of George W. Bush. It's obvious that despite the fervent wishes of a few nuts, the so-called "blue states" are not going to secede from the Union. It's been tried once, and it failed miserably. The talk of secession is just a way for disgruntled liberals to vent about the election.
Still, though, the idea has a certain amount of interest from a purely alternate history point of view. Imagine if, say, Oregon or Michigan decided it wanted out and the legislature of one of those states decided to vote itself out of the United States? What would the president do? What would be the appropriate response? There is certainly a legal precedent for the president to take military action against rebellious states. Would a U.S. president order troops to invade a state? Harry Turtledove, where are you?