You Can’t Have It Both Ways. It’s Either State Sovereignty or Federal Dominion

(Eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty. Thinking Central Government will not seek more power to dominate the masses is the foolish and timeless error of republics from Rome until today. It always begins with the cry of ‘necessity.’ – DD)

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When Slave Owners Chose Federal Power over Local Sovereignty

(Ryan McMaken, The Mises Wire) – A recurring theme in American politics is the cynical use of federal power by those who simultaneously pretend to favor “states’ rights” or “local control.” We see this today when Republicans one minute say they favor local control with gun laws or Obamacare—and then demand the federal government impose nationwide drug prohibitions. We see it among Democrats who want local control over “sanctuary cities” for illegal immigrants, but then denounce the idea that states ought to decide for themselves on abortion policy.

The basic logic goes like this: if you’re negotiating from a position of relative weakness at the federal level, take a faux “principled” stand in favor of local or state sovereignty. However, once it looks like you might have the political power necessary to force federal laws down everyone’s throat, declare the issue to be “too important to be left up to state or local control.”

This habit of declaring every “important” issue to be a matter for federal intervention is very much the story of American politics over the past century. From alcohol prohibition to social welfare benefits to an out-of-control FBI, American policymakers never tire of “discovering” new ways that every alleged problem must be solved by a federal “solution.”

This problem pre-dates the twentieth century, however…

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