States' Rights

States’ rights aren’t really about the states. They’re about the individual.

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States' rights aren't really about the states. They're about the individual.

One of the biggest mis­con­cep­tions about states’ rights is that their pur­pose is to pro­tect the states from over­reach by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. On the sur­face, this is cor­rect, but we have to dig just a lit­tle deeper to under­stand why they’re so impor­tant to every American.

The states do not need direct pro­tec­tion. It’s rare for DC to tar­get an indi­vid­ual state gov­ern­ing body or the foun­da­tion of a state’s exis­tence, though one can argue it has hap­pened from time to time. The real­ity is that states’ rights are so clearly pro­tected in the Con­sti­tu­tion to empower the states to pro­tect the peo­ple from oppres­sion. The founders feared an overly pow­er­ful fed­eral gov­ern­ment could sys­tem­at­i­cally attack the rights that the Con­sti­tu­tion defends if they weren’t held to account by the states through the checks and bal­ances the Con­sti­tu­tion allots them. What we’ve seen since the 19th cen­tury and what has accel­er­ated since FDR is the founders’ fears com­ing true.

From edu­ca­tion to the envi­ron­ment, from health care to the use of nat­ural resources, Wash­ing­ton DC has stepped into are­nas where it has absolutely no busi­ness enter­ing. The real vic­tims are not sim­ply the embod­i­ment of the states them­selves but rather the peo­ple within the states who are being made to feel they have no recourse. As states bend and often break to the will of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, Con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tions for the peo­ple are being trampled.

Some states have fought back. Most have accepted their fate, for­got­ten the 10th Amend­ment, and sat stag­nant as DC con­tin­ues to dic­tate what they can and can­not do. Lest we for­get, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment was granted many enu­mer­ated pow­ers that give them plenty of clout; I’m not one who thinks DC should be pow­er­less. I sim­ply want them to stick with the pow­ers they were given.

A look at the enu­mer­ated pow­ers and the var­i­ous amend­ments that added to them presents us with a fed­eral gov­ern­ment that should be much less pow­er­ful than it is today. The rea­son the 10th Amend­ment allows the states and indi­vid­u­als to gov­ern them­selves in all regards out­side of the enu­mer­ated pow­ers is because the founders believed safe­guards were nec­es­sary to pre­vent lim­ited rep­re­sen­ta­tion in impor­tant mat­ters. The states, local gov­ern­ments, and espe­cially indi­vid­u­als are more aware of how to han­dle their sit­u­a­tions than the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. In other words, they can solve prob­lems for them­selves much more eas­ily than DC could ever imag­ine doing. Edu­ca­tion, for exam­ple, requires no input from DC. None. It’s time to get rid of the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion for good.

As much as I’d like to hope one of the two major par­ties will break from the over­reach­ing trends they’ve both demon­strated over the decades, I’m not wait­ing around. The Democ­rats are call­ing for Fed­er­al­ism to com­bat Pres­i­dent Trump just as the Repub­li­cans called for Fed­er­al­ism to fight Pres­i­dent Obama, but both have failed to bring about the degree of change nec­es­sary to make a real impact. Part of this is because they tend to call for Fed­er­al­ism when they’re in a posi­tion of weak­ness. It’s for this rea­son that we’ve formed the Fed­er­al­ist Party. Regard­less of which major party cham­pi­ons Fed­er­al­ism at any given moment, it’s our party’s belief that they’re just bluff­ing. Their actions when they’re in con­trol indi­cate they have no inten­tion of return­ing the coun­try to the bal­ance of pow­ers the founders intended.

This arti­cle is being writ­ten on a con­ser­v­a­tive blog and I con­sider it a bless­ing to have access to this forum. I do not speak for this site, but as a con­ser­v­a­tive who feels that both par­ties are veer­ing to the left, it’s imper­a­tive that I talk about states’ rights to appeal to con­ser­v­a­tives and lib­er­als alike. Oth­er­wise, I’d be lying to myself and this audi­ence if I were to say that I’m con­fi­dent the two-​party sys­tem will ever yield a true cham­pion for the Con­sti­tu­tion. There are those within the major par­ties who love the Con­sti­tu­tion, but they are dwin­dling in num­bers. A time is com­ing when they’ll need to make a choice. I’m con­fi­dent many will choose the Fed­er­al­ist Party as their home.

The key to Fed­er­al­ism is bal­ance. When the orig­i­nal Fed­er­al­ists were fight­ing for rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion, their oppo­si­tion wanted the states to be too pow­er­ful. It was up to Fed­er­al­ists to bring the bal­ance of pow­ers nec­es­sary to have a vibrant con­sti­tu­tional repub­lic. Today, we fight for this bal­ance from the oppo­site direc­tion. DC is too pow­er­ful. Just as Pres­i­dents Nixon and Rea­gan before us, their con­cepts of “new Fed­er­al­ism” require us to fight to limit the fed­eral government’s power to reestab­lish a bal­ance with the states. This is the only way indi­vid­ual Amer­i­cans can be secure from over­reach by either their state or fed­eral government.

A return to the checks and bal­ances that were designed to pro­tect the peo­ple and defend the Con­sti­tu­tion is grow­ing more nec­es­sary every day. We’ve seen strides in the right direc­tion in DC, but these strides are quickly erased by fur­ther over­reach, increased bud­gets, and expanded fed­eral pow­ers. It’s time for Constitution-​loving Fed­er­al­ists to rise up and show DC they can­not con­tinue down this road.

One of the biggest misconceptions about states’ rights is that their purpose is to protect the states from overreach by the federal government. On the surface, this is correct, but we have to dig just a little deeper to understand why they’re so important to every American.

The states do not need direct protection. It’s rare for DC to target an individual state governing body or the foundation of a state’s existence, though one can argue it has happened from time to time. The reality is that states’ rights are so clearly protected in the Constitution to empower the states to protect the people from oppression. The founders feared an overly powerful federal government could systematically attack the rights that the Constitution defends if they weren’t held to account by the states through the checks and balances the Constitution allots them. What we’ve seen since the 19th century and what has accelerated since FDR is the founders’ fears coming true.

From education to the environment, from health care to the use of natural resources, Washington DC has stepped into arenas where it has absolutely no business entering. The real victims are not simply the embodiment of the states themselves but rather the people within the states who are being made to feel they have no recourse. As states bend and often break to the will of the federal government, Constitutional protections for the people are being trampled.

Some states have fought back. Most have accepted their fate, forgotten the 10th Amendment, and sat stagnant as DC continues to dictate what they can and cannot do. Lest we forget, the federal government was granted many enumerated powers that give them plenty of clout; I’m not one who thinks DC should be powerless. I simply want them to stick with the powers they were given.

A look at the enumerated powers and the various amendments that added to them presents us with a federal government that should be much less powerful than it is today. The reason the 10th Amendment allows the states and individuals to govern themselves in all regards outside of the enumerated powers is because the founders believed safeguards were necessary to prevent limited representation in important matters. The states, local governments, and especially individuals are more aware of how to handle their situations than the federal government. In other words, they can solve problems for themselves much more easily than DC could ever imagine doing. Education, for example, requires no input from DC. None. It’s time to get rid of the Department of Education for good.

As much as I’d like to hope one of the two major parties will break from the overreaching trends they’ve both demonstrated over the decades, I’m not waiting around. The Democrats are calling for Federalism to combat President Trump just as the Republicans called for Federalism to fight President Obama, but both have failed to bring about the degree of change necessary to make a real impact. Part of this is because they tend to call for Federalism when they’re in a position of weakness. It’s for this reason that we’ve formed the Federalist Party. Regardless of which major party champions Federalism at any given moment, it’s our party’s belief that they’re just bluffing. Their actions when they’re in control indicate they have no intention of returning the country to the balance of powers the founders intended.

This article is being written on a conservative blog and I consider it a blessing to have access to this forum. I do not speak for this site, but as a conservative who feels that both parties are veering to the left, it’s imperative that I talk about states’ rights to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike. Otherwise, I’d be lying to myself and this audience if I were to say that I’m confident the two-party system will ever yield a true champion for the Constitution. There are those within the major parties who love the Constitution, but they are dwindling in numbers. A time is coming when they’ll need to make a choice. I’m confident many will choose the Federalist Party as their home.

The key to Federalism is balance. When the original Federalists were fighting for ratification of the Constitution, their opposition wanted the states to be too powerful. It was up to Federalists to bring the balance of powers necessary to have a vibrant constitutional republic. Today, we fight for this balance from the opposite direction. DC is too powerful. Just as Presidents Nixon and Reagan before us, their concepts of “new Federalism” require us to fight to limit the federal government’s power to reestablish a balance with the states. This is the only way individual Americans can be secure from overreach by either their state or federal government.

A return to the checks and balances that were designed to protect the people and defend the Constitution is growing more necessary every day. We’ve seen strides in the right direction in DC, but these strides are quickly erased by further overreach, increased budgets, and expanded federal powers. It’s time for Constitution-loving Federalists to rise up and show DC they cannot continue down this road.