When we left off, every eye in the Federation is on the Federation Council chambers where Captain Picard has showed up and given his account of the events in Star Trek: Insurrection. This launches a Federation-wide debate about whether the ends justify the means, about whether the Federation's interests as a whole outweigh those of its constituents. (Sound familiar?)
Out of nowhere, in the midst of the debate, a border planet gets attacked by some no-name alien race, and, in light of the raucous stirred up by Captain Picard's report, the Federation can't get its shit together in time to respond adequately. A bunch of people die before a neighboring planet can gets its own (non-Federation) ships there in time and the planet's governing body get together and decide to send a communiqué to Starfleet Headquarters on Earth announcing their secession. Thanks but no thanks.
Theoretically, every planet in the Federation is sovereign, but would that really hold up if it came down to it? For that matter, the Federation doesn't seem that inclined to follow its own rules lately. Say this border planet was home to some vast cache of resources the Federation couldn't survive long without.
All of a sudden, the issues from Insurrection, those which everybody in the Federation has had just enough time to come down on either side of, are of vast importance. To many, the prospect of a life without the Federation would be nigh unimaginable. How would they possibly be able to defend themselves against the Romulans, the Dominion, or the Borg?
On the other hand, the Federation was founded on a set of principles which many would never betray, no matter what the advantages, nearly primary among these being the sovereignty of its member-planets, and their rights to live according to their own systems of belief and conscience.
The battle lines drawn, it gets interesting to think about what could happen on board the Enterprise. Would everybody back Picard? Suppose in the intervening period Riker had been granted his own command. This ended up happening at the beginning of Star Trek: Nemesis, the movie that actually got made. Riker had turned down his own ship a number of times throughout the series, believing he could make a bigger difference as second-in-command on the Federation's flagship than as captain of some research vessel. He turned out to be right, and finally Starfleet offered him command of the newly-commissioned and state-of-the-art USS Titan.
Probably, like Robert E. Lee, the Federation would try to win Captain Picard over by offering him the top spot, which he would immediately turn down and take up the position in the Secessionist camp, bringing the Enterprise with him. Undoubtedly, he would be kind enough to offer safe transport to all those aboard when the decision was made.
The question is, where would Riker fall? I think, most likely, he would side with the Secessionists. There is the fact that he's spent his entire career living in Picard's shadow, and might not want to continue to do so. Especially considering the Federation might consider givnig him the Fleet Admiralship if he asked for it. He was always a good guy, though, and never resented Picard. The question is, then, when would he pick a side?
My guess is he would waver between one choice and the next as long as he could, siding with the Federation early on. Probably, though, the Federation would want to launch a swift attack on the first planet to secede in an attempt to persuade others not to follow suit. Inevitably, they would react too strongly, though, throwing the planet's leaders in prison as war criminals at least, if not executing them. Riker would witness this and realize the Federation actually has gone off the deep end.
Counselor Troi would, of course, do whatever her husband did, but I bet her planet wouldn't. Worf would, and would himself captain the USS Defiant on Picard's wing. Geordi would, and Picard would surely give him his own command as well. Dr. Crusher would probably side with the Loyalists. If only because it's more interesting, and would give her character something to do, which is rare. The real question mark is Data. You always think you've got Data figured out, and then he surprises you. I'm not sure what Data would do.
Of course, the other cool thing is that this would all happen after Voyager made it back to Earth. My money would be on Janeway siding with the Federation. If not here, then definitely Chakotay, and certainly Tuvok. After all, "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one." The Doctor probably would too, but I'm not sure. Seven of Nine wouldn't. Neither would B'Elanna. I would bet neither Harry Kim nor Tom would either.
Then you've got to think about what the all the different aliens would do. The first thing to realize is that in the last episode of Voyager, Janeway destroyed one of the Borg's trans-warp hubs, making super-fast transport to the Alpha Quadrant impossible. That being said, even though they're probably a 10 year journey away, the Borg have a retaliatory armada on the way. Probably the Klingons would side with the Secessionists. Or maybe they would split themselves.
The Cardassians would side with whoever looked stronger, but they would probably only offer economic and moral support, coming out of a long war themselves. The Romulans would be smarter and wait out the war, seizing the opportunity after it was over to slaughter the weakened winner, though Picard would make every effort to persuade them to support his side. A big selling point would be that, like Tuvok, the Vulcans would all be Loyalists, so they'd probably help out some under the table.
It's fantastic, see? You get to slice up the universe and make them wage war on one another. You mix things up with Voyager crew on Riker's ship and the like. It's great. Plus, there's at least 2 movies there. If not a trilogy.
It's definitely too late to do it now. They should stick with J.J. Abram's awesome new Trek-verse. I'm just saying, the awfulness that is Nemesis didn't have to happen.