I am merely a citizen. My only influence upon American society is as a person who possesses a tremendous love and respect for constitutional governance, along with a voice and a blog. In my opinion, however, this nation is facing a constitutional crisis as great as we’ve ever faced before in our history. My intuition tells me that I am not alone in this thinking. Pressure is building, along with disgust. Like a pot of boiling water it will eventually spill over. Like a pressure cooker it will eventually explode. Hard-working, everyday Americans continue to see the erosion of their liberties as well as unreasonable limitations placed upon their economic opportunities by an overreaching federal government. It seems of late that each day brings another more obvious–more egregious–example. We try to find comfort by assuring ourselves that the latest wound will be the last, but then we awake the next morning to find another blow to the inalienable rights guaranteed by the Constitution. As I post this, it is Saturday evening. What new assault on constitutional liberties will be made known on Monday?
Ideology and power have become the starting points for law rather than the Constitution. The nation’s Founders did all they could to leave us a workable and realistic system of federal governance that, by separating and balancing powers, would be the strongest preventitive for tryanical government–government run amuck. Yet thousands and thousands of pages of regulation are produced by Congress each year. There are so many new laws that at times citizens are arrested for things they never knew to be illegal. Money is created by declaration rather than by attachment to anything of real value. Government failures are covered up with more regulation and the private sector is blamed for massive economic fault lines caused by government (the Dodd-Frank Act is a primary example of this). The President picks and chooses the laws he and his administration will enforce. He then puts political and legal pressure upon states that continue to uphold the laws he disdains. Through executive order he enforces his will in a manner that more resembles a royal monarch than a federal presidency. George Washington refused the office of king. Barack Obama relishes it.
The American constitutional experiment can be compared to the Hindenburg disaster just prior to explosion on May 6, 1937. There is still time to right the course; with every passing day that time becomes less and less. The nation is being remade in an unconstitutional manner before our very eyes. The answer is not to turn again to the tired ways of the political badminton game in which we alternate between big-government Democrats and big-government Republicans. Turning right won’t fix what’s wrong with the Left. Turning left won’t fix what’s wrong with the Right. More power to the federal government isn’t the answer, obviously. But neither will giving more power to large corporations be our answer. The revolving door between big government and big corporations is a big part of the problem. Our only hope is limited federal government. Return power to the states and their people.
The sovereign states that compose our national compact must refuse to cooperate with any and all federal measures that violate their sovereignty. Constitutionally speaking, the United States are not a single people–we are a set of peoples organized by states. Through our states we have agreed to a federal form of government possessing limited enumerated powers. If the people of Massachusetts want state-sponsored healthcare, that is a conversation for the people of Massachusetts. If the people of Mississippi wish to require identification in order to vote, that debate belongs with them. If the people of New York want to require restaurants to remove salt from their tables, that argument is theirs. Wisdom and folly alike can be debated by the people of the states. Ill-considered laws and regulations can more easily changed on the state level than on the federal level. This is the vision that inspired the Founders.
The states, in the understanding of the Founders, were not obligated to adhere to federal laws that went beyond the enumerated federal powers. Today’s state leaders who value constitutional government must reclaim their state sovereignty. Sovereignty is no mere motto for state seals but is a constitutional reality that they can exercise by legislative acts of nullification. Nullification is a legal theory proposing that a state can refuse to comply with any federal legislation it finds unconstitutional. Although the Supreme Court has rejected this theory, the announcement on the matter of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate demonstrates that constitutionalists can no longer depend upon the majority of the Court. It is stacked with legal minds who refuse to defend constitutional limits on the federal government.
Obviously, state nullification of federal regulations would have far-reaching consequences. The spigot of federal money would quickly be shut off as a punishment. Is it worth the effort? Only time will tell. How many more constitutional offences will occur before enough really is enough?