A reader just posted this comment in response to the last post that featured a crucial section of Florida’s declaration of causes following its secession from the United States. One of things that I’ve learned over the years is that differences in interpretation often have little to do with strictly historical concerns, but with much broader assumptions about the nature of power and the relationship between citizens and government. This is a perfect example:
What do you base your concerns on the Government by? Isn’t it based largely on what has already taken place with a real and present estimation on what might happen? You surely vote. Is not your vote a gamble, on what good or calamity might happen if you choose one candidate vs. another? Consider this has a group, political candidate or party ever threatened your livelihood and well being? Are you so different from being a Confederate, that if a very real threat affected your very livelihood and families well being, that you would not defend them? They did so in accordance with the laws and the Constitution. When their rights were threatened they seceded.
The questions point to a picture of government that I have real trouble identifying with. While I believe a healthy skepticism about federal power and our elected officials is essential to any democracy, this seems to border on paranoia. I live in a democracy and I do my best to ensure that my voice is heard through elections and other forms of political activism. I don’t necessarily view the election of someone I disagree with as a “calamity” since their terms of service are not indefinite. My government is not my enemy. Of course I have strongly disagreed with actions taken by my government in recent years that straddle party lines, but at no point have I ever entertained nullification or secession as a solution. Our system of government is not perfect, but it has served us pretty well so far and I can see no reason to alter it beyond its amendment.
What I now understand is that my disagreement with this individual over how to interpret Florida’s declaration has little to do with whether slavery was or was not central. What do you think?