Britt Combs: The difference between 1 state and 50 states
How federal power enforces misery
By Britt Combs | The McDowell News
Published: March 24, 2009
The United States contains more than 306 million human souls, according to a Census Bureau Web site. We have among us hundreds of ethnic groups, widely disparate religious and philosophical traditions and diverse regional cultures.
Americans vary greatly on almost every question from the most mundane matters of taste and behavior to great matters of law and order and freedom. Government public service announcements on late night television tout that "our diversity is our strength." That’s a lovely sentiment and it makes everyone feel nice and welcome, although it is, in point of fact, balderdash.
I personally like diversity. It makes life interesting and makes a world of cuisine easily accessible when you get sick of sausage, white bread and iceberg lettuce. If you get bored with your own culture’s hard-headed obstinacy you can go hang out with some other group that’s obstinate in its own exotic way. But diversity doesn’t make a nation strong. The best you can say about diversity is that it doesn’t hurt.
Last week in this space we looked at attempts by several states’ legislatures to resume some of their aspects as "states" and to limit the federal government to its legally specified tasks and functions. We are all so used to thinking of the U.S. as "one nation, indivisible" it is hard to imagine an America without Washington as our supreme authority.
The federals certainly think of themselves in that light. They claim jurisdiction over virtually every aspect of our lives as individuals, as communities and as states.
It is impossible to get everyone in the world to agree with you. That’s why we have families, clans and nations. We bunch up with people we have a lot in common with. We marginalize outsiders and thus maintain peaceful streets (more or less). The federal "super state" makes that peace impossible and enforces misery on everyone. Here are a couple of examples:
Whatever your own view on abortion, it must be granted that it is unwelcome and opposed by North Carolinians. As a people, our culture, our religion and our ethical and philosophical traditions all insist that it should be strictly limited or eliminated.
The same can’t be said, however, about other states and their cultures. New York, for a convenient example, has a culture that values a woman’s autonomy over any considerations of a fetus’s life or potential life. To impose an abortion ban on them would be intolerable to their sense of personal liberty and civic order.
The issue is one reasonable people will disagree about. The Constitution grants the Congress no jurisdiction over reproductive matters or the regulation of the medical profession, and the Tenth Amendment reserves to the states powers not specifically innumerated. Clearly abortion policy is a state matter. Constitutionally there can be no other conclusion.
Yet the U.S. Supreme Court, in their lust for power, used the most laughable and senseless logic to find jurisdiction under the 14th Amendment. The result is that tens of millions of Americans are forced to witness, and even pay for, an act they find to be every bit as intolerable as murder or arson. The cultural preferences of a far away group are imposed on a people who have no use for them.
The First Amendment begins with the words "Congress shall make no law …" It forbids the federal government getting involved in any argument over speech, the press, religion or assembly. The 10th Amendment clearly reserves that jurisdiction to the states. The states have the sole power to limit a man’s right to yell "fire" in a crowded movie house; limit or allow religious displays in public places; rule on matters of the press, such as the printing and dissemination of obscene materials; and define the difference between an assembly and a riot.
That’s how it should be — each community (state) governing themselves according to their own conscience and traditions.
The Supreme Court disagreed. In 1925 they discovered that the 14th Amendment contained secret, hidden language only they could understand that imposed First Amendment restrictions on the states as well. In plain English, they ruled that the First and Tenth Amendments were utterly meaningless, just a bit of fun, not to be taken seriously.
Again, this imposes misery on virtually all 300-plus million of us. Each state and group and culture have their own views on First Amendment matters. To be allowed to govern ourselves accordingly keeps the peace and preserves the happiness of the people. The federal imposition of one standard for all, and their aggressive hostility to the various traditions of the many peoples that comprise the states has been absolutely destructive to our safety and happiness.
We are not one state. We are 50 states, joined together in a union of mutual protection and commercial accord. That union’s government has vastly overstepped its bounds and has made itself master of the states. Their inflation and debt threaten our economic security. Their foreign military adventures have jeopardized our safety and their commercial favoritism has set us at each others’ throats. We would be happier and safer and richer if the federal government would protect and defend the Constitution.