“Do not try and bend the spoon – that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth…
“There is no spoon.” – The Matrix
Don’t try to stop government from seeking power. That’s impossible. Instead, realize the truth: limited government does not exist. That means we need many governments competing and limiting each other’s power through fighting, usurpation and jockeying for tax dollars
Don’t try to bend the spoon!
In reality, most attempts to provide limited government (ie. government that does not trend towards tyranny) are very much like trying to bend the spoon. We have to realize this truth – there is no spoon - before we can understand the failures of the last century – failures of the conservative movement, the reform movement and before that the liberal movement. All of these movements attempted in one way or another to give us “limited” government.
We still don’t have it.
The anti-war movement of the 60s tried to end the war in Southeast Asia. The anti-war movement of the 2000′s tried to end the wars in Middle East. These movements seem to have disbanded, and yet we have more troops in the region now than we did in 2008. In reality, aside from a brief period in the early 90′s, we have been fighting one war or another since 1941. We have WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam war, the Cold War, the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, the War on Terror 2, the war in Iraq (one and two) and the war in Afghanistan. Not to mention Kosovo, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and on and on. We are currently in a state of perpetual war. Clearly, the anti-war movement failed. Why?
It tried to bend the spoon.
In reality, most movements to “limit” government share the same fate. The progenitors of the movement try to create a will within the government to make some change of policy, or to stop some horrendous practice, or to establish some new citizens government privilege that they think is indispensable. But the movement invariably ends in failure because people trust that the federal government will somehow limit its own power.
Think about it – why would government do this? Once the pressure is off, governments simply figure out a way to exercise the very powers put in place to limit them.
For instance, the 14th Amendment intended to ensure basic natural rights to freed slaves in southern states by constitutionalizing the Civil Rights Act of 1866. But the amendment has become a tool to force one size fits all federal programs on the states. The commerce clause was intended to prevent tariffs between the states. Today it is a justification to forbid growing wheat on your own land for your own consumption.
Bending the spoon.
The Conservative movement of the 90′s tried to stop socialized medicine, and balance the budget. Yet the debt is more than four times as large today as it was then. And by the way, we have socialized medicine. Bush II helped that along with his Medicare prescription drug plan. The conservative movement failed.
It tried to bend the spoon.
Nullification approaches things differently. Rather than trying to build a better government, it recognizes that governments are run by humans, and humans are fallen beings, subject to greed, fear, avarice, and corruption. So instead of a better government, we strive to create a market of governments through decentralization. If all the states start nullifying unconstitutional acts, even if just to defend their own power because it is in their own self-interest, it would create an environment closer to that intended by the founders with the powers of the federal government few and defined, and powers remaining with the states and the people numerous and indefinite. Citizens would be able to choose the level of their oppression by location, the same way earlier generations did by relocating to the west.
If somebody wants lots of government services, they can go to a state that provides them. If one state is abusing its citizens, then those people are free to leave. As a bonus, the surrounding states they relocate to will receive the tax dollars associated with those citizens.
Remember the spoon does not exist. Trying to make the government flawless is essentially trying to make humankind flawless. Never trust government with unchecked power. And remember, checks must come from outside the system. The feds will never check themselves. Limited government is an oxymoron!