NOTE: The following was based on a speech given at a freedom rally hosted by State sovereignty advocate and Washington State Representative Matt Shea on Aug. 30.
Almost everyone I know has written a letter to the Federal government. Many of them have contacted their Representatives or Senators at some point. They have emailed, faxed or even called — asking, demanding or just plain begging these politicians to do something or not.
I never have.
Why? Because I believe it is an absurd idea to ask the Federal government to fix problems it created, and that doing so just doesn’t work.
For example, those on the antiwar left got a “peace President” who has bombed Libya and massively expanded the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many of those same progressives vehemently opposed the Patriot Act forced upon us by former President George W. Bush and the Republicans. With the Democrats in power, they got more of the same. Again.
For those on the right, the so-called conservative Bush and the Republicans in Congress gave us more Federal control over education with their No Child Left Behind Act. They also laid the groundwork for today’s national healthcare mandates with the largest expansion of Federal control over healthcare in decades: Medicare Part D.
And for everyone, we’ve got the Transportation Security Administration. Because no one, at least no one I know, likes the fact that this particular agency violates the 4th Amendment almost constantly.
So, because of things like these, I’ve always thought it was pointless to write the Feds telling them anything. Until now.
I recently wrote a draft letter to my so-called Representatives in Washington. Before sending it to them, I thought I’d share it with you here to see if you have suggestions or if it meets your approval as is.
Here’s what I came up with:
“Dear Federal government: Go to hell!”
Out Of The Mainstream? Not At All
Start talking 10th Amendment, state sovereignty or — heaven forbid — nullification, and you will immediately find yourself branded as an extremist, a nut job, a radical and out of the mainstream. There’s even a supposedly nasty term for those of us who would dare advance such nutty principles: “Tenther.”
Well, apparently, the American majority is just plain nutty.
A Rasmussen poll released last Friday tells us that “54 percent of Likely U.S. Voters believe that states should have the right to opt out of federal programs they don’t agree with.” In other words, more than half of Americans now embrace the Constitutional concept of State sovereignty.
More telling than this small majority in support of such crazy ideas is the much smaller minority of people opposed to them. Only 31 percent of those polled disagreed and said States should not enjoy the ability to opt out.
Think about that for a moment, because it is significant. Less than one-third of the country opposes our base principle that each State can and should have a unique approach to handling various political issues.
The Founders told us that such a system was not only a good idea, but also in line with the Constitution. They knew that one-size-fits-all solutions would lead to pretty much what we have today: a crumbling economy, liberty eroded and continual violations of the rules given to government.
Today, people everywhere are beginning to recognize a simple truth: What’s right for California is likely not right for Washington State, and what’s right for Idaho is likely not right for Alabama, and so on.
In fact, such a decentralized system (the system the Founders gave us in the Constitution) is the only kind in which people in a huge country like ours — with widely varying political, economic and religious beliefs — can all live peacefully together under a large defense umbrella.
John Adams famously told us that the real American Revolution was not the war for independence. He said:
The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.
Happening Right Now
Even more exciting than this poll is the fact that States around the country are putting this idea into practice.
In 1996, when my home state of California decided to opt out of Federal drug laws by allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes, it was going it alone. But, soon other States recognized not only their own ability, but the possible benefit of opting out of this particular Federal program. Today, 15 States have done so, and they are increasingly getting away with it.
A few years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union championed State-level opposition to the REAL ID Act of 2005, which required States to follow Federal guidelines in issuing driver’s licenses. Since then, more than half the States have enacted legislation against participation, and all applied for or received extensions by the 2008 deadline.
Here we are six years later and it’s still not fully implemented, because States just won’t do it.
States opting out of Federal programs (at the Tenth Amendment Center, we refer to it as “nullification“) can be a pretty effective strategy. It’s far more effective than “voting the bums out” or writing a letter to Federal politicians, in my opinion.
States’ Rights: Not Just For Liberals
Better yet, this growing States’ rights movement is not just exclusive to progressives and the left. Conservatives have gotten on board with the idea in recent years; and they are becoming more effective with it, too.
A recent Washington Times article said: “All told, 17 states have enacted laws rejecting parts of the Affordable Care Act, according to a report by the National Council of State Legislatures.” And, as tracked by the Tenth Amendment Center, more than 10 states have begun to consider the next step, rejecting (read: nullifying) the entire Affordable Care Act — every word of it.
Rasmussen reported: “Support for states’ rights jumps higher when the question involves federally mandated programs with no checks attached. Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters think states should have the right to opt out of such programs if the federal government doesn’t help pay for them. Twenty-one percent (21%) disagree and 16% are undecided.”
What does that mean? Only one in five people believe the States should have to blindly comply with Federal mandates, no matter what. This is certainly good news, and something to build upon. We Tenthers are winning the ideological battle amongst the people.
In the end, it seems to me that Thomas Jefferson’s ideas from the Principles of ’98 have gone mainstream, as they should. He was far more eloquent than I when he wrote, “…the several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government…”
But, the message remains the same.
“Dear Federal government: Go to hell!”
NOTE: Michael Maharrey, communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center, contributed to this article.