I ran across an interesting article last week headlined “How Hatred Came to Dominate American Politics.” It brought up some pretty good points, particularly regarding the nationalization of American politics. But I think the article swerved pass the biggest cause of the division and hatred in American politics today — the centralization of power in Washington D.C.
The founders called this “consolidation” and many warned it was dangerous to liberty.
For instance, in Federalist #32, Alexander Hamilton wrote:
“An entire consolidation of the States into one complete national sovereignty would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and whatever powers might remain in them, would be altogether dependent on the general will.”
Fisher Aims, a delegate to the Massachusetts ratifying convention, wrote:
“A consolidation of the States would subvert the new Constitution.”
Think about it. When virtually every important decision is dictated to some 325 million people from a nearly all-powerful, far-away government, it only makes sense that people are going to fight tooth and nail over who gets to control it. Every election is perceived as a mortal, winner-take-all battle. The victors get to impose their wills on the large minority they vanquish at the ballot box.
Patrick Henry warned, “Consolidation must end in the destruction of our liberties.”
He was right.
This is why I rail against the incorporation doctrine – the made up out of thin-air Supreme Court doctrine that allows federal judges to effectively dictate policy at the state or local level. A lot of people think it’s a good idea because the federal courts can protect us from state or local tyranny.
Cute theory. But it almost never works out that way.
Why would you trust the most powerful government in the history of the world to protect your liberties? This strategy runs counter the wisdom of the founding generation. And it falls flat with historical scrutiny.
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