By Douglas V. Gibbs
State sovereignty was an important part of the founding of this nation. The states were their own, independent entities. The people considered themselves citizens of their own states more than one of a united confederation of states. Each state ran its own affairs, and governed as if they were their own little countries. As far as most people were concerned, they didn't even need a federal government.
Like independent nations, the individual states traded with each other, enjoying a free system of commerce that was unimpeded, and an integral part of the individual state's prosperity. Subcultures and unique societal trends that dated back to their colonial days existed in each of the states. The individual states of America were as different from each other as were the nations of Europe.
Like siblings in a large family, the states were individuals with their own identity, yet a part of a larger family held together and protected by a contract of confederation. The states squabbled with each other, defended each other, and though each were separate, sovereign entities, they looked out for each other as well.
Before they were states, the British Empire viewed the colonies as petulant children who were not willing to recognize their roles as a source of revenue for the empire. The colonies, as far as The Crown was concerned, complained about too much. They whined about taxes, cried about having no representation, and squirmed under the military thumb of the greatest empire on Earth. The least they could do, as far as the King was concerned, would be to shut up and act like good British citizens, regardless of the grief they thought they were enduring.
Rumblings of independence began to murmur throughout the colonies. The colonists desired local rule, not the iron fist of a centralized government from across the ocean imposing tax after tax after tax on them. Separately, however, the states knew they were no match for the British Empire. United, despite their differences, the colonies believed they could forge their independence.
Farmers, store owners, and all of the other Americans from all walks of life, reluctantly united under a single banner, fought against the most highly trained military in the world, and won. A national unity grew as the Revolutionary War reached its completion, and the people became Americans just as much as they were citizens of their colonies.
After victory, the states desired to retain their sovereignty, but realized that a union under a single national government may be necessary. The Articles of Confederation became that constitution, and the United States of America operated under that agreement until the Federalists, who had been complaining the government of the confederation did not have enough authorities, convinced Congress to draft amendments to the Articles. In secret meetings in 1787, however, they wrote a new constitution that added powers like taxation and national security to the authorities of the government, while continuing to try to limit the federal government in such a way that it could not become tyrannical.
One of the strategies used to limit authority was to separate the powers as much as possible, including voting powers. The people voted for their Representatives in the House, the States voted for their Senators, and Electors delegated by the States voted for President.
A step towards tyranny, the founders understood, was democracy. Because of their fear of democracy destroying the union, America was designed to be a Constitutional Republic.
Those who desired a more centralized government could not secure both houses and the presidency with ease as long as the voting powers were split up as they were. If the people were fooled into voting big government types into the House, the States could counteract it with limited government Senators. If the President was a big government goon, the states and the people could counteract it with the Congress.
In 1824, the vote for the president was turned over to the people, and the 17th Amendment ratified in 1913 took the vote away from the states in regards to the U.S. Senate, and gave that vote to the people. Once both Houses of Congress and the presidency became determined by the vote of the people, if a tyrannical ideology was able to fool the people, it would result in them having power in both houses of Congress, and the presidency.
This is why people use words like socialism, Marxism, and the like when describing the current administration. Obama, and the Congressional Democrats may not be literal communists, or desire a totalitarian government, but their policies head America onto a footing that is essentially a step in that direction. The powers of Washington took advantage of the weakening of the American Form of Government by progressives of the past and gained control of all aspects of the U.S. Government. But we aren't democratic enough, as far as those folks are concerned, and the Democrats are working to make us even moreso a democracy. Democracy, as does social democracies (European Socialism), points a nation towards tyranny. Government achieving a complete takeover of everyone's lives may or may not occur during this decade, or the next, but anytime limited government is compromised, and government expands in ways not unlike what we've seen under the Obama administration. And like it or not, these kinds of big government policies are a step towards an authoritarian system somewhere down the road.
The states were given sovereignty for exactly that reason. The Tenth Amendment was written to ensure the states retained their ability to govern locally, and the Constitution was written in such a way as to limit the powers of the federal government so that the federal entity could not negative state laws and constitutions, or become a federal monstrosity that begins to limit the rights of the states.
The breed of Democrat we have in Washington right now believes that more government is a good thing, and that unsustainable entitlement programs and nanny-state policies are in tune with the common good. What such things do, however, is destroy the opportunity for success, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. And a nation that takes away liberty in such a manner, as history has proven time and time again, is doomed to fail.
Therefore, a return to the Constitution is the key, and the path to that eventuality is through the states, and their willingness to fight for their individual sovereignty.
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary