Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nashville newspaper considers state sovereignty resolutions "a waste of time"

The Tenneseean, a newspaper published in Nashville, doesn't think much of state sovereignty resolutions. Yesterday, it published both an editorial and a guest editorial critical of them.

In the editorial, entitled "'State sovereignty' movement distorts Constitution," The Tennesseean argues that the state sovereignty movement is only a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the current administration in Washington. The paper is embarrassed that Tennessee has become a "leader" in this movement, because, pursuant their HJR 108 (which was enacted), the sponsors have invited legislators in other states to "create a 'working group' to 'enumerate the abuses of authority by the federal government and to seek repeal of its assumption of powers.'''

The editors charge that these accusations have descended to the level of partisan attacks on President Obama. Instead, they see state sovereignty proponents as failing to acknowledge that "economic steps taken may have, in fact prevented a depression or acknowledging that these controls are not permanent." First of all, there is plenty of evidence, such as this report from the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Analysis, that the economic steps taken are likely to worsen a depression. Secondly, may we remind the editors that the federal income tax and the USA PATRIOT Act were sold to us as "temporary" provisions? Power taken by the federal government is not easily given up. Rather, the Federal Government finds justifications for making "temporary" measures permanent.

Of course, they say it is "unsettling" when the resolutions attempt "to paint the federal government as antagonistic to the average American when, in truth, it was the American electorate that put those federal officials in charge. If Tennessee voters are unhappy with Washington's attempts to come up with, for example, health-care reform, they can talk to, or vote out, the senators and representatives whom they elected to make these decisions. The key is to have a constructive, common-sense discussion, in which state and federal officials come together to hammer out what is best for their constituencies."

Apparently, it doesn't matter that President Obama has behaved in the opposite manner from what he promised in his campaign, particularly with respect to banking, defense, and foreign policy. And yes, we still need to talk to our Congressmen and U.S. Senators. But too often, Washington becomes a brick wall when we talk to it.

State sovereignty resolutions, while of limited value, do open up a "constructive, common-sense discussion." When Administrations of both parties, over a period of twenty years, fail to listen to the needs of the American people, we need to consider an alternative approach. State sovereignty is one such alternative. And if that fails, secession is yet another.

The guest editorial, "Movement a waste of time," is by Chip Forrester, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party (consider the source):

How in the world can she [State Rep. Susan Lynn] justify such a lame-brained piece of legislation when the state's unemployment rate exceeds 10 percent and some hard-hit counties' jobless rates hover near 20 percent? Working Tennesseans fear they may be the next ones in the unemployment line. Accordingly, many of us are cutting back on our spending, which is having a drastically adverse impact on the state's revenue.

One would hope that Rep. Lynn and like-minded lawmakers would have matured beyond this divisive, meaningless grandstanding. But it's obvious that's not the case, as too many far-right politicians and pundits are spewing alienating rhetoric daily.

Maybe because federal taxation, mandates, and NAFTA have choked our corporations and entrepreneurs so much that they can't create jobs? And who is "spewing alienating rhetoric?" We have shown that state sovereignty has benefits and potential benefits for the Left, for example, in California. The 14 Democrats in the Michigan Senate didn't have a problem with it. The French Left and many non-Marxist socialists don't have a problem with it, either.

Mr. Forrester then asserts that "most scholars and legal experts have debunked the 10th Amendment/state sovereignty movement as nothing more than a fringe group of right-wing zealots who want to disband the Internal Revenue Service and severely curtail the powers of the federal government." Such as? Of course, his assertion cannot be disproven – after all, he would not consider Walter Williams or Thomas DiLorenzo to be scholars, nor Andrew Napolitano or Robert Bork to be legal experts.

I'm all in favor of putting aside partisan politics in times of crisis – but state sovereignty is non-partisan. So, Mr. Forrester, let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

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