DE GRACIA: Stop the imperialization of America with nullification

Angry at Benghazi, IRS harassment or the AP probe? Try the Tenth Amendment remedy. Photo: AP File Photo/Richard Drew

HONOLULU, May 15, 2013 – Some say that President Barack Obama has been having a tough month, rocked by the scandals of Benghazi whistleblowers, IRS harassment and the Associated Press records probe.

I say baloney.

No matter what egregious offense or incompetence by the federal government erupt into public view, just remember at the end of the day that Obama has – as he told Dmitry Medvedev – “more flexibility” in his second term to do anything he wants.

When a U.S. military combatant commander has subordinates that screw up or engage in activities that offend Washington D.C., he must go to bed conscience afflicted and fearing he will be relieved of command.

By contrast, when the Commander in Chief of the United States screws up or delegates authority to individuals who “poorly assess” situations and endanger Americans, blame falls solely on an obscure cubicle functionary no one has never heard of.

When private small business owners get negative publicity in the mainstream media for something they or their employees did, they walk around perpetually abased and tormented by the thought of what could happen to their company and all its workers. When the President or any other elected official for that matter receives media excoriation, the matter is easily resolved by sending a public spokesperson to take the heat and give nebulous responses to “tough” questions.

First page of the U.S. Constitution (click to enlarge)

Don’t think for one moment that President Obama is having a tough month. Congressional hearings, lawsuits, stinging OpEds and TV pundit rants are just political theater. Remember, unlike you, the President can always purge his conscience and fly to Honolulu or Martha’s Vineyard for a last-minute vacation at taxpayer expense.

“What was that, America? I can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome my golf game is!

Don’t even think that Obama’s cabinet level members are having a tough time from all these scandals. Remember, unlike you, a senior official can escape accountability through resignation – claiming “the need to spend more time with family” – and several months later when the public has forgotten the scandal they will be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom as a consolation prize.

What is the only true penalty for being evil in office? An episode of FRONTLINE.

This is not a partisan criticism of Democrats or Republicans. This is the stark reality that we have come to live in. All of this is happening because America has been seduced and imperialized by the allure of Washington D.C.’s favors. If Americans want accountability, transparency and limited government again, they need to wake up to the fact that exercising the Tenth Amendment is the rightful remedy to tyranny.

The Nullification Reflex

Have you ever noticed first time candidates for federal office almost always use a variation of the phrase “I have the experience and the credibility to bring Washington under control and make government work for you?” In other words, congressional and presidential candidates promise to force D.C. to do their will. That sounds less like a public institution and more like a wild animal to be tamed.

President Obama agrees “you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside.” (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

As we all know though, no federal candidate ever actually tames the beast once elected, instead the beast tames incumbents and turns political personalities into thralls. The ability to tax the states and redistribute wealth to select special interests, demographics or even individuals is an addicting power.

Never forget that unlimited power gives rise to unlimited pride. The federal government has become so powerful that in television, movies and even commercials they are portrayed as taking what they want, arresting who they will and demanding anything they please. Once world renowned for being the lighthouse of free people, today even Israeli commercials portray U.S. agents arresting foreign teenagers late at night so that President Obama can order a hamburger.

Some may call that funny. I call that a tragedy. When Washington’s tyranny has become internationally famous you know that something is wrong with our system.

America’s founders knew from their experience in Europe that the direction of all government is to trend to imperialization so they engineered separation of powers into the blueprint of the United States so as to slow the accretion of power in the hands of a select few. The Tenth Amendment in particular exists to give states (and more importantly, the people) a reflex to stop the federal government every time its power got out of control.

We call that nullification.

President Obama, the 2008 change candidate, told Univision viewers four years later that the most important lesson he learned was that “you can’t change Washington from the inside.” No kidding. Thanks for telling us what we already knew. Real reform begins not nationally but locally in our state legislatures and city councils when local people stand up for their community and say “NO!” to bad government.

Washington wants you to do whatever it says. The Constitution says Washington cannot overstep the line states and the people have limited it by. Things are getting out of control because we have genuflected before the creep of federal power for far too long. It’s time for states and cities to start using the nullification reflex that the Constitution gave them to kick back against tyranny.

Freedom isn’t being given free stuff. Freedom is the power to live your life and determine what is best for your personal circumstance and local needs. States do not have to tolerate harassment of their people by federal agencies or ruinous compliance mandates that deplete their treasuries. When states consistently use the nullification reflex over and over again, Washington’s power will wane and local people will be responsibly governed at the local level as our founders intended.

Remember what Madison said: “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

The Tenth Amendment is the rightful remedy to America’s decline. Our republic perishes for lack of knowledge. It’s time for local governments to step up and use the nullification reflex.

10th Amendement

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

More from Making Waves: A Hawaii Perspective on Washington Politics
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Danny de Gracia

Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs committees at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, Danny has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. Now working on his first novel, Danny resides on the island of Oahu.

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