"It's not exclusive to those nostalgic for the Confederacy: secession has adherents from sea to shining sea. Kauffman samples proponents historical and contemporary of separation from the Union, discovering as bewildering a cast of constitutional autodidacts, rural rebels, and pastoral potheads as will be found in the current-affairs genre. The homogeneity within such heterogeneity is a view that the tax-collecting, regulation-issuing, and expeditionary-force-dispatching power centers of Washington or Sacramento are inimical to Jeffersonian self-governance. Do-it-yourself democrats march through Kauffman's pages, advocates for a riven New York, a fissiparous Kansas, three Californias, or a U.S. truncated by a (Second) Republic of Vermont. The don't-tread-on-me spirit assuredly attracts its share of mad tinfoil hatters and ornery independents, but there are also plenty of solid-citizen types here. Kauffman's exploration in political heresy is an amiable, vocabulary-bending jeremiad that exalts the local over the global, extols the two-lane road over the interstate highway, and simply defies a Left-Right dichotomy. An entertaining rant for the political set."
It’s been almost a century and a half since a critical mass of Americans believed that secession was an American birthright. But breakaway movements large and small are rising up across the nation. From Vermont to Alaska, activists driven by all manner of motives want to form new states—and even new nations.
So, just what’s happening out there? The American Empire is dying, says Bill Kauffman in this incisive, eye-opening investigation into modern-day secession. And those rising up to topple that empire are a surprising mix of conservatives, liberals, regionalists, and independents who—from movement to movement—may share few political beliefs but who have one thing in common: a sense that our nation has grown too large, and too powerfully centralized, to stay true to its founding principles.
Bye Bye, Miss American Empire traces the historical roots of the secessionist spirit and introduces us to the often radical, sometimes quixotic, and highly charged movements that want to decentralize and re-localize power.
During the George W. Bush administration, frustrated liberals talked secession back to within hailing distance of the margins of national debate, a place it had not occupied since 1861. Now, secessionist voices on the left and right and everywhere in between are amplifying. Writes Kauffman, “The noise is the sweet hum of revolution, of subjects learning how to be citizens, of people shaking off . . . their Wall Street and Pentagon overlords and taking charge of their lives once more.”
Engaging, illuminating, even sometimes troubling, Bye Bye, Miss American Empire is a must-read for those taking the pulse of the nation.
About the Author
Bill Kauffman is the author of nine books, including Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, which won the 2003 national "Sense of Place" award from Writers & Books, and Look Homeward, America, which the American Library Association named one of the best books of 2006. He writes frequently for The Wall Street Journal and the American Conservative and lives in his native Genesee County, New York, with his family.