Over the course of approximately six hours, the Left in the United States made a spectacular, 180 degree turn on federalism and states’ rights without even recognizing it. Although this lack of self-awareness shouldn’t be particularly surprising coming from the modern Left, which seems to have missed the irony when it goes about
I’m old enough to remember when the Tea Party was making hay about nullifying Obamacare and Rick Perry even floated the idea about
Rachel Maddow referred to talk of nullification as “confederates in the attic,”
Apparently, we were told, the
Then all of a sudden, on November 8th, 2016, Donald Trump beat out all the predictions and won the presidency. Suddenly, states’ rights became rather appealing to the Left (and lost their allure to much of the Right).
The rallying cry for the Left so far has been “resistance” and that includes more than just protesting in the street. The Hill notes that
We’re not a monarchy. We’re a representative democracy, so we have agency, we have a voice. We have the ability not just to navel gaze, but to act, to be engaged — to resist. We’ve got to dust ourselves off and step up, and not just roll over and act as if we don’t have a very potent role to play in our democracy, particularly at the city level … if he does try to build a wall, there is legislation in California to challenge the administration, by requiring the construction of the wall to be put to a vote of the people of California.
In other words, Newsom will recommend nullifying a federal order with a state referendum.
And the whole
Indeed, nullification in everything but name has been tried or successfully used on all sorts of issues such as
New England states … appealed to nullification (or interposition) against President Jefferson’s embargo, against what they considered the unconstitutional calling up of the New England militia during the war of 1812, against the use of military conscription, and against a law providing for the enlistment of minors.
American history is littered with examples of nullification. Obviously not all were for good causes, but many were. Fortunately, some liberals, such as
If this point isn’t obvious enough, a thought experiment regarding the reason liberals generally dislike federalism, that I put forth in
Let’s say it was the federal government that had mandated segregation and not the states. Do you believe for one second that Martin Luther King Jr. would have opposed states nullifying that particular federal law? Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to crush segregation and I find it patently absurd that he would neglect a non-violent method of doing so if the situation had been as described.
I think it’s safe to say that it was less the how (other than nonviolence) and more the what that civil rights activists cared about.
And the same goes for secession. Indeed the United States wouldn’t even be a country if
National Socialism must claim the right to impose its principles on the whole German nation, without regard to what were hitherto the confines of federal states …
And pretty much every other totalitarian dictator agreed with Hitler on that matter.
So federalism and localism are critical to a free society in general. But let’s return to the present and the whole matter of the so-called “sanctuary cities” that thumb their nose at federal immigration law. Indeed, even the conservative Helen Rittelmeyer
But one should look even further than Rittelmeyer’s “nullification for both sides” concept then just immigration. Perhaps neither liberals nor conservatives have gone far enough with their federalism.
Right now the United States is extremely divided and growing more so with every passing day. There are massive differences of opinions between north and south, the coasts and flyover country, urban, suburban and rural and regarding race, religion, and political beliefs.
And it’s only gotten worse since then.
The average New Yorker has much more in common with the average Londoner than the average person in Topeka, Kansas. Other than language, the same would probably go for Berlin, Madrid, or Paris as well. We may all be part of one political union, but it’s hard to make the case we’re all part of one country.
Perhaps it’s time we looked to localism instead of Washington. Perhaps it is time to ask whether 320 million people should be governed by one swamp on the East Coast.