With so much attention on the turf war between Congress and the President, it’s easy to overlook another…
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Federalism on the Firing Line

With so much attention on the turf war between Congress and the President, it’s easy to overlook another, equally disturbing separation-of-powers crisis – the swift erosion of federalism.

Just as the U.S. Constitution assigns certain powers and duties to the three coequal branches of the federal government (legislative, executive, and judicial), so too does it differentiate lines of responsibility between the federal and state governments. This latter idea is known as federalism, and it’s in pretty bad shape according to a thought-provoking essay by Richard Epstein and Mario Loyola.

In particular, the practice of conditioning receipt of federal money on capitulation to federal regulations is turning states into mere enforcement officers.

“Federal officials exert enormous influence…[more]

July 31, 2014 • 02:46 pm

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The Ominous “S-Word” – Secession Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, March 25 2010
Just one year into his [President Obama's] tenure, however, America has become more resentfully divided than any time in generations.

After 230 years, are the American people coursing toward eventual divorce? 

Our polarized society increasingly ponders what would happen if American conservatives and liberals simply agreed that their differences had become irreconcilable, and redivided the nation to go their separate ways.  Which side would prosper and experience an influx of migration from the other?  Conversely, which side would likely become a fiscal and socio-political basket case? 

Any reasonable person already knows the likely answer.  One need only compare the smoldering wreckage wrought by liberal governance in such states as California or Michigan with the comparative prosperity created by conservative governance in such states as Texas or Utah.  We can also examine the past 400 years, during which immigrants abandoned Europe for an America founded upon the fundamental principles of limited government and individual freedom. 

Regardless, the above hypothetical has become increasingly frequent among both conservatives and liberals in recent years. 

Following the 2004 election that they confidently expected would vindicate their 2000 rage and send President Bush back to Texas, liberals only half-jestfully proposed that “blue” states secede and join a new “United States of Canada.”  Conservatives replied with a collective, “don’t let the screen door hit you in the [posterior] on your way out.” 

Now, with this week’s passage of ObamaCare despite ferocious and widespread public opposition, the faint reverberations from that restive elephant in the room became even more pronounced.  Consider the words of Dennis Prager, an intellectual whom no serious observer would label a bomb-thrower: 

We are in a non-violent civil war.  I write the words ‘civil war’ with an ache in my heart.  But we are in one.  Thank God this civil war is non-violent.  But the fact is that the left and the rest of the country share almost no values.  The American value system and the leftist value system are irreconcilable.  If the left wins, America’s values lose.  If American values prevail, the left loses.  After Sunday’s vote, for the first time in American history, one could no longer confidently believe that the American system will prevail.  And if we don’t fight for it, we don’t deserve it. 

Or consider the commentary of Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh, who references the “s-word” in his article “The Rise of Decline:” 

The recession has not just hustled the U.S. economy back to a late-20th-century state of nature that resists all efforts at reinflation, stimulus, and outcome management.  It has created a conviction that American society itself, rather than just its institutions of government and public/private rent-seeking, is in collapse…  We tend to miss something obvious:  The problem isn’t that things are collapsing.  It’s that not enough things are collapsing.   

Even the mainstream Wall Street Journal ran a June 2009 weekend commentary on secessionist backlash entitled “Divided We Stand.” 

For her part, Shikha Dalmia writes in her forbes.com commentary “Resisting ObamaCare, Gandhi Style” that Obama “might have set the stage for the largest civil disobedience movement since the civil rights era.”  She notes that, “even if a few million Americans simultaneously refuse to abide by it or pay the fine, they could easily overwhelm the system.” 

Whatever one’s views toward such sentiment, it is becoming increasingly difficult to deny the irreconcilable ideals of “red” and “blue” Americans despite efforts to reestablish unity.  After all, George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 on a record of bipartisanship following eight years of extreme acrimony during the Clinton era.  Eight years later, the acrimony had only increased and Barack Obama disingenuously campaigned as a moderate promising a “post-partisan” administration. 

Just one year into his tenure, however, America has become more resentfully divided than any time in generations.  Conservative “Scoop Jackson” Democrats have become nearly non-existent, as have liberal “Rockefeller” Republicans. 

How will this resolve?  Will we collectively weather this protracted turbulence, or will the centrifugal forces only accelerate?  Dissolution obviously remains highly unlikely, but Yale University’s Bruce Judson notes in his book It Could Happen Here: America on the Brink that: 

The United States is not the Soviet Union.  Our economy is not as terrible.  Our government is not as despised.  But nobody thought the U.S.S.R. could collapse.  Could everyone be wrong again?

Thomas Jefferson wrote in our Declaration of Independence that irreconcilable values sometimes make it “necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another.”  Jefferson further recognized the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, stating that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles.” 

Those on the left, ephemerally content because they possess temporary political control, mock such wisdom as anachronistic.  They would be prudent to recall, however, that they said the same thing about CNBC’s Rick Santelli just one year ago when he launched the Tea Party movement that now threatens to hurl their political control into the sea. 

Question of the Week   
Which of the following merged to form the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"Immigration has emerged as perhaps President Obama's worst issue -- definitely for today, and maybe of his entire presidency -- when it comes to public perception.  A new poll from AP-GfK shows more than two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) disapprove of Obama's handling of the immigration issue in general. Just 31 percent approve -- down from 38 percent two months ago. When you separate those…[more]
 
 
—Aaron Blake, The Washington Post
— Aaron Blake, The Washington Post
 
Liberty Poll   

Is significant, proven plagiarism sufficient to disqualify, in the minds of voters, any candidate for public office?