Today’s Republicans are leading a revolution, a revolution of the radicalization of America. They would have you think that they are conservatives. The Tea Party followers and the so-called Federalist Society would have you believe that they are working to return America to its founding principles. Nothing could be further from the truth. They call themselves the Republican Party when in essence they are the States Rights Party. This attempted revolution is occurring without a shot being fired, but the truth is that a Coup is taking place.
The 150th anniversary of the South’s surrender at Appomattox has just taken place. At the end of our most terrible and bloody conflict, the American Civil War, it was thought that the “Lost Cause,” of the South was forever lost, and that the argument of a union of states versus a compact of states in a confederacy was forever buried along with many true believers in that horrific struggle for the Union.
Today’s radicals and reactionaries masked in the language of so-called conservatism, misuses and just plain lies about history. The very name Federalist is used to describe their beliefs that powers need to be returned to the states based upon the idea of state sovereignty. If you close your eyes and listen carefully these spokespersons of radicalism are preaching the same sermon of John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis.
In the early days of our Republic, the Federalist Party was made up of people like Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams. They believed in a strong central government.
The first political party in opposition to the Federalists, was the Democratic Republican Party, founded by Thomas Jefferson. Theirs was the party of more local government based upon Republican principles as espoused by Locke and others.
The historical facts are the opposite of what today’s Republicans claim. In fact what the radical reactionary Republicans sound like are the Anti-Federalists who argued against the ratification of the Constitution. The Anti-Federalists supported maintaining the Articles of Confederation and the latter day states rights pro-slavery advocates used the same arguments that proponents of the Confederacy supported and fought for.
Since there is so much confusion today on what the Constitution does say and what the Articles of Confederation said it would be instructional to briefly remind the readers what each document concentrates on regarding the power of the states and the power of the people.
The Preamble and the first article of the Articles state the following: “Between the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia. ” Date November 15, 1777
Article 1. The stile of this confederacy shall be “The United States of America.”
Article 2. Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”
The articles even use the words Perpetual Union in the Heading. Each article describes the powers of the states.
Now as you move forward to the ratification of the Constitution, due to the inadequacies of the Articles of Confederation, the entire emphasis of the Constitution is different. The powers wherein described and delineated are powers given to Congress, the Executive Branch and the Judiciary. Only the 10th Amendment emphasized without specifics powers left to the states.
The Preamble of the Constitution states the following: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The Constitution stressed the people and not the states. In their effort to establish a more perfect union the Constitution did 3 things which the Articles of Confederation failed to do. It gave the federal government the power to tax, it gave the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce and it gave the federal government the power and ability to defend the United States against potential enemies. There were in fact 3 empires perched on our doorsteps, waiting to pounce on any weakness of these United States.
If you doubt me on this issue of a compact of states versus a federal government of united states please read, the 2 volume set, entitled, “The Debate on the Constitution,” especially volume 1. Volume 1, pits the best of the arguments for and against the ratification of the Constitution. The Anti-Federalists were quite clear in recognizing the fact that by ratifying the Constitution the states would be giving up their individual sovereignty in return for having a nation rather than an assemblage of 13 states. The noted historian Bernard Bailyn compiled the arguments for the debate from the expansive letters that were written in the periodicals and newspapers of the day. Brutus was particularly cogent in his analysis and to this day you hear his arguments through the current voices of people like Mark Levin.
What should be accepted is the fact that the forces for states rights and individual state sovereignty lost their fight in the ratification process. They lost.
Later we heard a chorus of the very similar arguments in the discussions leading up to the Civil War. In their efforts to justify slavery they introduced the very same arguments that the fans of a Confederacy used. The leaders of the rebellion against the Union, tried to excuse their behavior, their use of slavery, by claiming that no one had the right to take away their property rights.
Now here we are in the 21st Century and we are hearing once again, the same out dated and defeated arguments for what they now mistakenly call Federalism. One would think that having lost their arguments twice they would have accepted defeat but no. It doesn’t matter to them that so many died during the Civil War to establish a permanent union. We are not a group of individual states independent of the Federal government able to nullify federal law. We are one country, united, and indivisible.
Take one of the right wing’s leading advocates, Mark Levin, he is again, arguing for something that has already been decided several times while claiming falsely that we need to go back to the beginnings to regain our liberty. His book, “The Liberty Amendments,” again and again advocate for Constitutional Amendments that would destroy the power of the Federal Government and increase substantially the powers of the individual states. Here is a brief list of the names he gave to what he cleverly calls Liberty Amendments: 1. An Amendment to Restore the Senate. This amendment would return the power of choosing a senator to the State and take it away from the people. 2. An amendment to Grant the States Authority to Directly Amend the Constitution. 3. An amendment to Grant the States Authority to Check Congress. Each and every other suggested Constitutional Amendment that Levin would like limits the power of the Federal Government or limits federal voting laws and terms of office.
What masks this revolution or coup that we are facing is the inordinate billions of dollars our oligarchs are spending to help insure that they keep more and more of their money. ALEC is an organized effort on the part of the Koch brothers to further diminish the power of our central government and pass laws through the power and influence of money that would change our state governments to feed their greater power and influence and to accomplish what these sons of the John Birch society could not accomplish over the years through an open and transparent electoral process.
Those who advocate individualism and property rights over equality and states rights over the power of the federal government are encouraging disunity. Right wing conservatives have already had a bite at the apple when in colonial times the people decided that they should be governed by the Constitution and not the Articles of Confederation.
When the issue of slavery and whether or not to allow slavery in any of the new states became the issue of the day, once again, states rights were defeated. And in that struggle around 700,000 men died, the equivalent of 5 million today. They died to maintain the union, the idea of a confederacy was defeated for all time. We are a union, a nation not a compact of 50 sovereign states.
The effort to use money to buy what could not be won on the battlefield is insulting to every man who lost their lives during that Civil War. It is traitorous to attempt to subvert our nation by using the corrupting influence of money to get their way. The right wing is attempting to undo all that has been done to increase the rights of the people, since the ratification of our Constitution. We must reject those who would have us have a plutocracy, with our country being run by the richest and most powerful. We must demand of our candidates and elected officials to do the job that they have been elected to do. Honor the Preamble to the Constitution, and work towards making a more perfect union a reality. Deny the forces of disunity the power to undo what our forefathers have so nobly worked and sacrificed for.