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Monday, December 3, 2012

On the Division of Men


This week this blog will be discussing the concept of conservative government which centers on the notion of states' rights over federal authority, and why it leads to more prosperous and harmonious society.

In the last four years we have begun see a great deepening of the natural rift between men both on a political and sociological level that is unprecedented. While most have lamented that Barack Obama is most divisive President in US history, good argument can be made that there are much deeper reasons to the increasing level of violence, angst and general unrest in the nation.

Accusations that the President has directly contributed to this national rage are somewhat true. He has fanned the flames of wealth envy and race hatred in an effort to ‘divide and conquer’ politically. The supporters of the President have accused people that are opposed to his policies as racially motivated—any direct challenge to his actions are termed racists by many on the left. The President’s ideology of increasing taxes on wealthier citizens and then redistributing the wealth down to the lower classes through both direct entitlements and corporate re-regulation has also been a major factor in unrest, as corporate interests dug in their heels and laid off workers and cut benefits in order to maintain margins.

The real division, however, has come from a long standing and well known cause of civil strife that has largely gone unnoticed in the modern era. This is the concept known as ‘federalization’, or an increase in federal powers over the powers of individual states rights. During the development of our nation and the writing of the Constitution in 1787, the founders understood this risk well, and strove to achieve a balance by the concept of ‘citizen-states’ who would join together for the common good for such things as national defense and commerce.

This concept of federal vs. states’ rights is what gave us the two party systems today, and was the central revolving point around which our nation was built. Should we be one nation under one government, or a confederacy of individual states?

It was Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe that were strong proponents of states’ rights over the ideals of Alexander Hamilton’s and James Madison’s Federalist ideal.  Yet, even Hamilton recognized the need for state sovereignty in order to maintain balance in government and to keep the peace between the states.  Hamilton on the issue of state sovereignty:

The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition of the State governments, makes them constituent parts of the national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct representation in the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and very important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds, in every rational import of the terms, with the idea of a federal government.- Alexander Hamilton, 1787.

As our government today exerts more authority directly from the federal government, and more power is consolidated in the bureaucracy under the power of the White House, more and more citizens are forced to live under a national standard of law, rather than the natural and historical tradition of differences between the states. This has ultimately led to more people being dissatisfied with their government, and commerce less able to play the field economically. Many businesses now use overseas labor rather than simply relocate to another state because federalization of the economy has also hindered the natural competitiveness between the states.

The net result of the massive federalization of laws and economy thus has led to a break with the original intent of a unionized confederacy of states—the concept of individual rights under localized protections.  Hamilton again:

 Except as to the rule of appointment, the United States has an indefinite discretion to make requisitions for men and money; but they have no authority to raise either by regulations extending to the individual citizens of America. The consequence of this is that though in theory their resolutions concerning those objects are laws constitutionally binding on the members of the Union, yet in practice they are mere recommendations which the States observe or disregard at their option.-Alexander Hamilton, 1787

Even Federalist Hamilton recognized the need for local and state superiority of law. Had controversial topics such as abortion, environmental law, health care, and other subjects, been left to state jurisdiction, the citizenry would be far less hostile to the policies of Barack Obama and indeed to each other.

The concept of Progressivism, and centralizing power in the federal state is a grave threat to the harmony of this nation, and why the fundamental strength and argument of Conservatism has been lost in all the rhetoric.

America needs to get back to basics, and listen to the words of our forebears and their enlightened wisdom.