Earlier this month Huffington Post ran a live discussion titled States’ Rights Liberals. The panel shared the same progressive values and goals expressed by many critics of states’ rights, but in reflection of marijuana and gay marriage legalization victories this year, the panelists recognized a positive result of people ignoring Washington, D.C.
Their focus was on the same column from The Atlantic that TAC’s Joel Poindexter wrote about last week. Notice how far they’re willing to go in discussing the legitimacy of state sovereignty. With no intent of diminishing their gradual learning of the role of the several states, I must point out that not once was the 10th Amendment mentioned by Alyona Minkovski or the four guests.
“Racism and states’ rights is alive and well but it’s not one or the other – we have to separate, not all states’ rights are created equal, while we would probably put the rights for states to have legal slavery and marriage equality both under potential discussions, one is really about the taking away of rights from a group of people whereas the other is about remedying something,” stated David Pakman. Does David know the historic nature of the word “remedy” here? Judging by his understanding of slavery and states’ rights, perhaps not.
Steven Schwinn, an Associate Professor of Law at The John Marshall Law School, correctly pointed out that “states’ rights” is a misnomer, because it is the citizens who have rights and the debate is more about through what governmental vehicle they can exercise those rights. But he also says, “progressives ought to look at where they have political advantage.” It would seem Steven recognizes no distinction between state or federal power except expediency in completing some agenda.
On the practicality of local action, John Celock, the state government reporter for HuffPost, pointed out, “not that much money is needed to run in the state legislature, since it’s so easy,” and “you see more money coming in from outside groups helping those candidates.” Indeed, many Americans have to look out-of-state to find a constitutional candidate to support these days, and liberty generally wins when the federal government is dismissed.
“Yeah, in the past, often times you saw states rights arguments being fielded when people in particular states kinda liked things the way they were, not wanting to abolish slavery or what have you,” James Poulos (not a historian) expounded. Despite lingering bromides and conventional thought, the conversation did feature some breakout moments of disregard for centralized authority. James also said, “my stake in society is not won or lost based on how well I can mobilize national support and turn it into a phonebook sized law that comes out of Congress someday.”
Well said, James (just that second part).
Now that the Left is more interested in states’ rights, there is hope. Coalitions are what the most effective Tenthers specialize in. Some liberals may have wider eyes though, with their hearts set on implementing a whole new national way of doing things after a particular state program is adopted (i.e. nationalizing gay marriage). The purpose of protecting a state from unconstitutional acts is not to further a national agenda other than to form “a more perfect Union” meaning a neighborhood of socieities looking out for one another’s right to self-government under the 10th Amendment.