To the victor go the spoils, and the winners write the history books, this latter coming unavoidably with the former. Still, facts persist, despite their inconvenience.
One fact that seems particularly inconvenient to the editors of New Hampshire’s Nashua Telegraph is that the government of the United States is a limited government. Their specific complaint is against "HCR6," a resolution introduced in the New Hampshire House of Representatives re-affirming the principles laid out in the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution, namely, that the federal government exists to exercise delegated powers only, and that all other powers are retained by the states and the people.
A similar resolution was passed by the Oklahoma legislature last year, and about ten other states are considering sovereignty-related legislation. It makes perfect sense: following eight years of an Imperial Presidency like George Bush’s — not to mention 80 years of welfare-statism — state lawmakers should be anxious to tell Washington that they are not branch managers for the federal government. The people, in their sovereign capacity, established the governments of the states, and in turn, the people of the several states ratified the Constitution, creating the federal government. The states are equal agents in this compact, with relation to each other and the entity they created. HCR6 is an attempt to remind folks of this historic fact.
"Resolutions such as this," write the Telegraph’s editors, "exploit the democracy of the Legislature to pursue an ideological agenda with no practical impact on public policy." Resolutions stating broad principles or making grand declarations are far from unheard of, and are always used to "pursue an ideological agenda." That’s the whole point. But whether it has any chance of making a "practical impact on public policy" cannot be known unless and until the resolution is properly discussed and debated. What the Telegraph really means is that they just don’t like HCR6, so ipso facto it is a waste of time. What arrogance.
Worse, the editors betray an incredible ignorance, not just of history, but of the rules of basic decency. They write, "The notion that the Republic is a creation of the states and can be dissolved by the states may have been viable — until 1865…the Civil War settled the debate at the cost of more than 600,000 American lives." What the Telegraph is ultimately saying is that because the North won the war, the history of our government was automatically re-written and the deaths of 600,000 people — not to mention the jailing of state legislators, congressmen and newspaper editors(!) — are therefore justified. Like the main character in Orwell’s 1984, just burn that inconvenient little scrap of paper and a new truth is unveiled. The problem is, the little scrap of paper they wish us to burn is the Constitution.
Joseph Stalin oversaw the murder of millions in the name of protecting the Soviet Union. If body count is a measure of righteousness, he was an ideal leader. To quote Will Smith from the recent film Hancock, "Are you boys sure you want to ride that train?"
The Telegraph claims that "The Supreme Court of the United States gets to decide if the federal government has exceeded the authority granted by the Constitution, not the state of New Hampshire or any other state." As the Southern statesman and Senator — and Vice-President — John C. Calhoun consistently argued in the first half of the nineteenth century, the Supreme Court is an agent of the federal government; if the federal government gets to determine its own limits, then any idea of a limited government must logically be abandoned. No doubt this would suit the editors of the Nashua Telegraph right down to the ground. Or would it? New Hampshire governor John Lynch is the only governor in the Union who has said that he will not implement federal "Real ID" provisions under any circumstances. Maybe the editors would re-consider their position if federal troops marched up the Merrimack River Valley to tell him otherwise.
Endless accolades to "Honest Abe" cannot change the nature of our institutions. The Constitution, ratified by the people of the states, created the federal government. The people of the several states, operating in their sovereign capacity, are the final judges of the extent of federal power. The blood of 600,000 dead Americans only proves the lengths some political leaders will go to in their lust for power. Like it or not, HCR6 re-affirms the principles our entire system of government is founded on.
Scott McPherson [send him mail] lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and encourages anyone who can to attend the rally in support of HCR6 on the steps of the state capitol on March 4 at 8AM. He serves as a policy advisor to the Future of Freedom Foundation.