States Rights Attack!
Am I the only one who hears folks yelling about the Constitution and State’s Rights in the same breath, and feels their irony senses start to tingle?
Let me get the obvious out of the way:
- I’m not a Constitutional Scholar
- I didn’t play one on TV
While I’m at it, let me get the less obvious out of the way too:
- I’m not a historian
- I don’t think I’m smarter than the average bear
- I didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn last night
I’m not even a history buff, though you might say I’m an intermittent, amateur historian. As such, I’ve been slogging through The Federalist Papers over the last year or so. I open up the copy on my Kindle when I’m having trouble sleeping.
Anyhoo, back to irony.
As I understand it, the US Constitution arose from the anarchy and ashes of the Articles of Confederation – a government (if you could really call it one) where the original states had ALL of the rights… and all of the power. My recollection from high school history was that in it’s earliest days our government was a chaotic mess, and the Constitution’s chief aim was to reign in the chaos by shifting some power away from the states, to the central government.
Alexander Hamilton in Federalist #1:
“Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments….”
Yep, I dove deep for that one, eh? All the way down to the first sentence of the third paragraph of the fist essay.
We could argue all day and into the next millennium about how much power the Constitution shifts to the central government, but I don’t think anyone can argue it does. Well, you could… but you’d be wrong.
So this is what’s going through my head when someone starts popping off about The Constitution! The Tenth Amendment! States Rights!
I wonder if they’re familiar with the history of the document they invoke, sometimes with a bit of angry spittle.