'State Sovereignity' is NOT Libertarian

The last few weeks have seen an outpouring of support for so-called 'state sovereignty' and '10th Amendment'. On the surface, they sound like libertarian causes. But again, this is only on the surface.

In the first place, ratifying the 10th Amendment is a prerequesite to statehood. Every state legislature has already passed a de facto endorsement of it. If a state feels it's 10th Amendment rights are being violated by the federal government, then the proper recourse is the federal courts---same as any other constitutional issue.

Who is behind these movements? Not libertarians by a long shot. Almost every 'sovereignty' bill pending in state legislatures is sponsored by politicians with strong ties to the Religious Right. They say in interviews that they don't want federal money with the 'strings attached'. Well, one wonders where all this concern was when Bush & Cheney were doling out 'faith-based' welfare to these states? There were plenty of 'strings' attached to those.

Apologists for these movements claim that the Obama Administration (after less than 100 days in office!) is usurping the Constitution. Again, no one seemed to mind about encroachments on 'states rights' with the Patriot Act, the FISA Bill, FEMA power grabs during natural disaters, domestic spying, 'No Child Left Behind', militarizing local law enforcement, and a host of other Bush crimes. Why now? And what Obama iniatives can they point to that are usurpations or can't be remedied by recourse to the Courts?

The ostensible leader of the secession movement is Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose ties to the Bush Administration are utterly transparent. This alone should raise red flags. Perry is probably best known for the illegal FLDS Raid and various other crimes. What kind of government would a character like this impose in the absence of constitutional restraints?

We need to ask these hard questions before thinking about where this movement is leading.

--- End forwarded message ---


  I agree with your skepticism about Rick Perry. But I think he's going to have to do a lot more than he has so far to claim leadership of the secessionist movement. I think most people who favor secession are probably fairly radical and politically conscious -- probably not an easy crowd for a mainstream politician like Perry to win the allegiance of. I rather doubt he wants that role anyway; I suspect he was just pandering, seeing the resolution as meaningless symbolism that won't really go anywhere, but will help get him votes in the 2012 Republican primary if he runs for president as some are speculating he intends.

  You're also right that state sovereignty is not libertarian, as libertarianism holds that individuals are sovereign. However I think moves toward state sovereignty in the U.S. are positive from a libertarian perspective, because it tends to decentralize power away from the federal government, which I believe is the biggest threat to the liberties of people in this country. The states may be on record historically as supporting the Tenth Amendment, but obviously the amendment is not being followed -- reminding people about that is a good thing in my book.

  It seems to me that Republicans like Perry who promote state independence, like those who attack Obama for overspending at the Tea Party rallies, are doing two helpful things: (1) advocating libertarian messages, and (2) highlighting their own hypocrisy, or at the least their recent political somnolence, in having failed to uphold similar principles when inconvenient to the Bush administration or conservative sacred cows like Drug Prohibition.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))


Here's how I look at this issue, and how I think about every political or economic issue:

I ask myself "Would stronger adherence to the original meaning of the 10th amendment result in a net increase or decrease for Liberty?". Would weakening the Federal government in favor of State's rights result in a net increase or decrease for Liberty?"

I'll support anything that increases liberty, even if it doesn't go as far as I would like.


Eric, Just because some bad gu;ys are also supporting an issue doesn't mean that the issue does not have merit.

Separation of powers is the key to protecting individual liberty. The castratation of state power over the last hundred years is a primary driver for the growth of the Federal Leviathon police military State.

Of course States are tyrants too, but the point is to keep the tyrants fighting with one other, and thus maybe leaving us alone to have a little freedom..

DeToqueville's Democracy in america written in the 1830s remains as relevant as tonights hottest blog on this topic.

I agree that the idea has merit; but it's not just that some bad guys are supporting it---in this case, the bad guys are orchestrating it. I doubt that Perry and his confederates actually intend to seceed (they want the whole country for themselves again someday); I'm guessing their long-range plan is to keep the country on the verge of a civil/race war while the Dems are in power---and once they come back in, unleash all that rage on their enemies.

But imagine the balance of power here if there were NO constitutional restraints on people like Rick Perry, Joe Arpaio, Sarah Palin, Arnold Schicklgruber, or Mike Huckabee. They ignore as much of it as they can as it is; I think if they didn't fear federal power they'd turn their states into worse despotisms than they are now.


  Very good points. Under the constitution, though, states have considerable power within the constitutional framework. It's just that over the years, they've surrendered much of it in return for federal handouts.

  I would like to see more emphesis on states' rights; but I'm afraid what too many in the Far Right actually want is to be out from under ANY kind of constitutional restraint.

  Secession too could actually be more dangerous in the long run. Unlike the USSR, there is no central power in the US (like Russia was in the USSR) who could hold things together while the transition was being made. Think about Governor Schwarzneggar with a nuclear submarine fleet and you'll see what I'm worried about here!


  Thanks! Definitely a breakup of the U.S. union would have unpredictable consequences, some of which would undoubtedly be less than desirable. On the whole though, I can't help but see it as preferable to the status quo. I think large jurisdictions more naturally lead to big government and out-of-touch, unaccountable officialdom. While some new smaller jurisdictions might move further toward tyranny, some would surely move in the opposite direction, and the resulting contrasts would provide yet more evidence that liberty is a better model than statism.

  On a purely philosophical level, I think all groups have the right to secede, down to the level of the individual, so it would be difficult to oppose secession in good conscience even if I were convinced it would make things worse. But in fact I'm much closer to being convinced it would make things better. In your example of the breakup of the U.S.S.R., I believe the former Soviet republics would be better off today if the Russian government *hadn't* been trying to "hold things together." Chechnya being of course Exhibit A, but I think authorities in many of those countries would have been subject to more helpful international interaction and pressure toward democracy and respecting human rights, if the countries in question had not generally still been seen as part of the Russian "sphere of influence."

  As for Schwarzenegger's alleged militarism waiting for an opportunity to manifest itself, are you sure you're not just thinking of his film roles? It's possible I missed it, but I haven't heard him making those kinds of noises as California governor, and he does already, after all, have the ability to call out the national guard.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

and the Feds have grabbed significant power with the income tax , the fed ( completely unconstitutional, the invasion of little rock by the 101st, the FBI, the popularly elected senagte, the coronatoion of Bush, etc.

but one could vote with the feet, which is much more difficult to do if one wants to leave the US.

Early in Schwarzneggar's term, he created an international incident by threatening to send National Guardsmen to close the border with Mexico. That was too much even for the Bushmen who had to rein him in. In neighboring Arizona, the psychotic Joe Arpaio has suggested rounding up Hispanics and putting them in concentration camps.

Over in Texas, Rick Perry sent stormtroopers armed with machine-guns and flamethrowers against an unoffending Mormon compound. He's taken considerable payoffs from anti-mormon religious groups, and just like Schwarzneggar and Arpaio is probably a White Supremacist sympathiser besides.

The system of checks and balances prevented all three of these criminals from carrying out their evil schemes. Granted they did (and are still doing) a lot of damage, but imagine them WITHOUT any constitutional restraints?

As a VP candidate, Sarah Palin announced she would ignore any constitutional provisions and pick 'faith-based' cabinet officials and judicial appointees. In the 2008 campaign, Mike Huckabee publically stated he was 'chosen by God' to save the country. A former Baptist minister; Huckabee has a track record of sermons saying the same things.

It's true there's far too much federal encroachment on States' Rights, but what these people are advocating isn't so much freedom to follow the Constitution as it is a desire to escape its restraints altogether. I doubt that the Bill of Rights would last a year under any of the people I just mentioned if they weren't forced to abide by it.