A very predictable progressive, I might add. Once in a while a progressive, like Jeff Taylor at Jacksonville State, realizes that gigantic, unresponsive bureaucracies that bomb foreign populations at the drop of a hat, just might — might! — not be so progressive. And that the old progressive slogan “small is beautiful” just might apply to the political order as well.
But then there are the Predictable Progressives, who stick to the 3×5 card of allowable opinion, and trot out all the old arguments. Half the time they’re not even arguments. It’s just, “Hey, this is an old idea! That means it’s stupid. Today we’re so much more sophisticated. The modern state has showered the world with so many blessings; what kind of uppity troublemaker could ever want to challenge it?”
Hence the “Progressive Professor,” who teaches at Florida Atlantic University, has a blog post called “Rand Paul Revives Nullification from the Pre-Civil War Years.” He writes:
By bringing up “nullification,” [Paul] is forgetting that the Civil War was fought over precisely that issue, the concept of states rights, that a state could nullify laws or actions of the federal government. And that viewpoint lost the war!
Rand Paul is not “forgetting” the Civil War, obviously, so that snide comment serves no purpose. The Civil War was not fought over nullification; in fact, South Carolina complained about nullification in its ordinance of secession, and Jefferson Davis condemned it in his farewell speech to the U.S. Senate. The war was indeed fought over the concept of state sovereignty, but it is obviously correct that the peoples of the states were sovereign. I have covered this. I am waiting for someone to refute me. Maybe the Progressive Professor will try. Probably not.
The Progressive Professor thinks war settles constitutional and moral questions. The state sovereignty position lost the war, so it has no place in our awesome, nationalist, progressive future. What does the Progressive Professor say when his son comes home from the playground with a bloody nose? “Son, whatever position got you into trouble was obviously wrong and can never be brought up again, since you lost that fight!”
“The Civil war settled this” is the morally grotesque position repeated endlessly in left-wing and neoconservative (note how easily they get along when the chips are down, by the way) denunciations of nullification. But if we were deranged enough to think violence could ever settle an intellectual dispute, we could just as easily say, “John Wilkes Booth settled the issue of presidents who violently put down secession.” And then where would we be?
Again, I have answered these objections in my Nullification FAQ.