Based on ideas from Cokie Roberts’ recent article found here, it is hard to draw any conclusion other than she prefers a dictatorship of the federal government to the balance of power guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Obamacare has been signed into law. However, there are a number of other checks and balances built into the Constitution that are specifically designed to protect the states and ultimately “we the people” from unconstitutional laws. Unconstitutional laws would include any law passed by the federal legislature that was not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. States have authority to make laws on all of the other matters, this is guaranteed by the 10th amendment.
Cokie’s article seems to suggest that “we the people” simply ignore these other checks because she is afraid that it might lead to a civil war. Ironically, her “solution” to avoid civil war is actually the most likely spark to ignite it, here’s why.
From the first paragraph: “It’s also easy… to view today’s nullification battle over health care less as a frivolous political game and more as a serious threat to the Constitution.” In effect she is saying “We must abandon the Constitution to save the Constitution”. This kind of circular thinking is as dangerous to freedom as G.W. Bush’s declaration that “we must abandon the free market to save the free market”. I think what actually concerns her must be that state sovereignty is a “serious threat to absolute federal power”. Hint: that’s the way it is supposed to be.
Her article continues: “The attorneys general of 14 states have filed suit challenging the health care law because, they argue, the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to require the purchase of health insurance.”
This is true, and this is an appeal to the judicial branch of the federal government. What is the problem? Does Cokie really want to eliminate the federal court’s ability to strike down unconstitutional laws? I hope not, that might lead to unchecked executive power.
The next sentence states: “Virginia, acting in direct defiance of federal law, passed a measure making mandated health insurance illegal.”
This is partially true. Virginia is actually indicating that they believe the health care law to be unconstitutional and they have passed state legislation that positions the power of the state government between the federal government and the citizens of Virginia. This is a legal and proper role of state governments; if the federal government steps outside it’s enumerated powers, it is the duty of the state to respond accordingly. Is Cokie hinting that the second tier of balanced power should be abandoned too? I hope not, that would lead to fully centralized power.
Consider Thomas Jefferson’s sentiments about this very situation:
“I am for preserving to the States the powers not yielded by them to the Union, and to the legislature of the Union its constitutional share in the division of powers; and I am not for transferring all the powers of the States to the general government, nor all those of that government to the Executive branch.”
Now, the article’s proposed solution: “It’s an election, after all, that defused that first challenge to federal authority. Jefferson won the presidency and simply allowed the Alien and Sedition Acts to expire.”
This proposed solution eliminates the use of the checks and balances in the Constitution and quite literally promotes a dictatorship of the federal government. I suppose she believes that we can always vote out any dictator that centralizes too much power by passing unconstitutional laws. (wink, wink)
Toward the end this statement is made: “It’s hard to imagine what would happen politically if the Supreme Court sided with some states against Congress. The already severely frayed fabric of government would certainly be further torn apart. It’s far better to leave the health care debate in the arena of electoral politics — and for the losers to accept defeat. That’s the essence of democracy.”
Again, the suggestion is made to just accept the federal government’s decree even if unconstitutional. The thing that struck me here though was the “essence of democracy” concept. That may be how a democracy works, but that’s not how a Constitutional Republic works.
And one final thought, the justification for tossing the Constitution aside is based on a perceived fear of civil war. I would suggest to Cokie that she is confusing the symptom with the disease. The disease is a federal government that is passing unconstitutional laws without regards for life, liberty and property. Instead, she focuses on the response, which is merely a symptom of the disease. The response of course is a dedicated effort by “we the people” in conjunction with state governments to lawfully and constitutionally eliminate a major threat to liberty… through adherence to the Constitution.
Bottom line: The Constitution and decentralized power limit the risk of civil war; centralized power in the federal government increases the risk. Freedom from unconstitutional laws leads to peace, servitude under coercive mandates does not.
Cokie, you’re cheering for the wrong team.
Brian Roberts is a long-time volunteer with the Texas TAC and a regular contributor to the Tenth Amendment Center website.
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