In a recent interview with a reporter from the BBC, I was asked what I thought about proposed cuts to foreign aid spending. “More than 10 percent in cuts, that’s pretty steep, right?”
My answer: “Steep? [Chuckling.] It’s all perspective, I guess. My preference? I’d like to see that number changed. To 100 percent.”
The reporter was shocked to a point of near-disbelief. The responses given to me were the common ones. I must be OK with people starving in the streets, or people dying of AIDS, or any number of other horrors that would obviously happen if the Federal government were to follow the rules given to it: the Constitution.
In another interview with The Washington Times last week, I was asked: “With all the talk about the 10th Amendment from candidates, what are voters getting from this?”
My response: “They’re getting duped. For probably a century, it hasn’t mattered which political party has held power in Washington, Federal power always grows.” I heard a bit of a chuckle in response.
What’s the point of these two seemingly unrelated discussions?
Problems Don’t Fix Themselves
On the one hand, there’s a considerably large segment of the establishment that would reel in horror at the thought of individuals having, well, personal liberty and the Federal government being limited to those few powers that have been delegated to it in the Constitution. On the other hand, there’s a large part of our own population (you know, we average people who want the Constitution followed on every issue, every time, with no exceptions and no excuses) who focus all their time, money and energy on Federal elections as a solution to our problems.
In my opinion, both ends of that spectrum are problematic, at best.
In regard to the latter, going to the Federal government to fix problems created by the Federal government not only doesn’t work; but after a century or so of trying, it might be bordering on insanity.
As I wrote in a recent column on Personal Liberty Digest™, there is a solution to our problems, and it doesn’t rely on the Federal government magically fixing itself. Instead, it lies with us — through the Jeffersonian remedy called nullification.
Nullification: Educating The Masses
In September 2010, the Tenth Amendment Center, in tandem with local groups around the country, launched a series of events around the country to educate people on these principles. The Nullify Now! tour has already been to eight cities and is heading to Kansas City, Mo., on Aug. 20; Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 22 ; plus Philadelphia; North Carolina; and elsewhere.
Our goal? Forcing State nullification — Thomas Jefferson’s doctrine that States must refuse to allow the enforcement of unConstitutional Federal laws — into the political discussion by means of a series of high-profile events. So far, it has been working.
For example, Texas State Representative David Simpson spoke at Nullify Now! in Fort Worth, Texas, while he was still a candidate for office last year. He went on to introduce legislation to nullify unConstitutional search and seizure by the Transportation Security Administration in Texas airports. While the bill didn’t go the distance, it got major national attention, bringing the idea that a State can and should step up to stop the unConstitutional TSA.
In other States, bills have been considered to nullify Washington’s unConstitutional acts on gold and silver, healthcare mandates, gun laws, Environmental Protection Agency regulations and more. Around the country, people are actually considering proposals to use their States to block the Federal government.
The Establishment Hates Nullification
In fact, it’s happening so much that some of those in the establishment who would reel in horror at the idea of personal liberty are out on the warpath. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC is just one example. She recently did a 14-minute segment on the subject of nullification. And her presentation, as you might guess, wasn’t a cheerleading session either.
The segment, titled “Confederates in the Attic,” was about how efforts today, primarily championed by the Tenth Amendment Center, to decentralize power and reject unConstitutional Federal “laws” are somehow directly related to slave owners in the pre-Civil War South.
No. That’s not a joke. She was quite serious.
She said: “A conservative group called the Tenth Amendment Center has been pushing a lot of the anti-health reform stuff… in the context of nullification. And they’re pushing for other kinds of nullification, too.”
The Center has been pushing anti-health reform stuff? Yep. We drafted the model bill, the Federal Health Care Nullification Act. Versions of our legislation — to either fully nullify or refuse compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) — have been introduced in 11 States so far, and it’s making headway in a few, too.
We’re pushing for other kinds of nullification, too? Ab-so-freakin-lutely!
Two for two. Good job, Rachel! But, no, it’s not related to slave owners; it’s about decentralization — for freedom. In fact, nullification was used in opposition to Federal slave laws prior to the Civil War, but that’s something we can cover in more detail in a future column.
Rachel is not the only one trying to frame this movement in a negative light. The establishment has spent considerable time attacking our efforts, and the efforts of those pushing nullification. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently issued a “warning” that the Nullify Now! tour might be headed to a city near you. Saying “no” to Washington requires a “warning?” For lovers of endless central power, it sure does.
If you’re not catching any flak, you’re not over the target. And the Tenth Amendment Center, along with other advocates of nullification, are certainly over the target.
But it’s not just ideas and bill proposals that are happening. This is all building off an already-growing movement around the country.
Since 2007, 25 States have passed resolutions or binding laws refusing to comply with the 2005 Real ID Act. The result? That law is still on the books in Congress. It has never been challenged in court. Yet, due to massive State-level resistance, that law sits null and void in much of the country.
Fifteen States are now defying both Congress and the Supreme Court on marijuana. Eight States have passed Firearms Freedom Acts, making State law that a gun made in State and sold in State is not part of “interstate commerce” and the Feds need to keep their dirty hands off. Seven States have passed Health Care Freedom Acts to block health care mandates from being enforced. And in Utah, a bill was passed this year allowing gold and silver to be used as legal tender. If enough States do that and enough people start using metal for currency, the entire Federal Reserve system should be quaking in its boots. Ending the Fed from the bottom up is the idea, and it’s going to work.
Not Just A Good Idea: Duty
James Madison informed us that nullification is not just something to talk about, or take action on after trying everything else. Instead, it’s your State’s duty to stand between the Federal government and you to protect your liberty. He called it “interposition.” In Virginia Resolution of 1798, he wrote:
That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them. [emphasis added]
Something significant is happening around the country. Plenty of informed people are beginning to make a stand in the name of a doctrine that the establishment despises. The idea is already reaching the general public. More and more people are understanding that elections don’t fix things. They never do. While our “leaders” would like us to believe that all roads lead to them, the fact of the matter is that it’s only through us — decentralized activism and nullification — that we’ll see a growth of liberty in this country.
Nullification isn’t just some historical oddity. It’s not just a good idea. It’s our duty to say no to violations of our liberty.
Sheriff Richard Mack put it best in a recent interview on Tenther Radio. His message to Washington? “Shove it up 1600 Pennsylvania, and leave us the hell alone!”
They don’t want us doing this. We are doing it anyway. Be a part of it, and Nullify Now!