Nullification: The states have a “nuclear option,” too

by Josh Eboch

(Editor’s Note: Nullification is not the nuclear option, secession is. Nullification is an unarmed challenge on a battlefield against superior forces.)

After gambling his young presidency on an ambitious domestic agenda, Barack Obama’s political insecurity and ideological arrogance now demand passage of a health care “reform” bill that will vastly increase the federal government’s role in the lives of American citizens. This could be accomplished in a number of ways, from a Trojan Horse compromise to the so-called “nuclear option” of budgetary reconciliation. But make no mistake, it will be accomplished; despite the vocal protestations of voters across the country.

Look carefully though. Deaf to budget warnings and terrified of a minor legislative loss, the Obama administration and its statist allies in Congress may inadvertently be committing a much larger strategic error.

Their miscalculation stems from a failure to recognize the true nature of President Obama’s electoral mandate last fall. Certainly plenty of Americans share his leftist world view, but many more Obama voters, especially the independents who have since abandoned him in droves, voted for his fiscally conservative platform of efficient government, lower taxes, and more transparency. With each passing day, it becomes increasingly obvious that is not the change they got.

Instead, the eloquent centrist Americans thought they elected has been replaced by a haughty cuadillo who demands that we all shut up and get on board with his various social engineering schemes. And always, despite the abysmal economic track record of government, his plans call for more federal control over private industry, including our single-most important industry: Health care.

However, ripping a page from the Bush playbook of condescension and demagoguery is not the way for Obama to gain trust the trust he needs. Heavy handed federal policy turns voters off even in the best of times, and these are clearly not the best of times.

Outrage over decades of bipartisan waste, fraud, and corruption has been on display for the last six months, and widespread fear over the federal government’s motives has driven millions of previously apathetic citizens to vocal and vehement political activism for the very first time.

But the president still doesn’t get it. Obama expects us to continue watching quietly from the sidelines while he arrogates enormous power to himself, tramples constitutional freedom, and then waits to be lionized by history. After all, that strategy has worked for virtually every president since Lincoln.

It won’t work this time. If and when President Obama forces through his health care bill, it could trigger a backlash already simmering at the state level that neither he nor his colleagues in Congress seem to have seriously contemplated: A popular push for state level nullification.

These days, nullification is an obsolete and misunderstood term, ostensibly discredited as a viable policy option more than a century ago by four years of bloody Civil War.

But for desperate people whose freedoms are being systematically usurped by all three federal branches and both political parties, nullification may be the key to restoring our republic.

Already, state legislators from Arizona to Florida to Georgia have proposed measures to nullify unconstitutional aspects of any federal health care law. Which, in all likelihood, would mean pretty much the entirety of H.R. 3200. But even more intriguing is the precedent a nullification fight would set and the confidence it would build for those in the liberty movement.

For years Americans have watched helplessly while the Supreme Court sat as binding arbiter in constitutional disagreements, essentially permitting the federal government to dictate the limits of its own power. And, predictably, the limits on that power have been few.

But once citizens understand that they can circumvent a power-hungry Congress and its enablers on the court by demanding their state governments step up and nullify unconstitutional laws, entrenched abuses of every sort could come crashing down.

Admittedly, that future is still a long way off, and reaching it will require a sustained effort and focus by small government activists heretofore unseen. But more of those activists are finding their voices every day, and no matter what happens in the coming weeks with regard to health care, recent events suggest a major power decentralization may already be underway.

Josh is a freelance writer and journalist originally from the Washington D.C. area. He is a cynically optimistic and unrepentant news junkie. His work has been published locally and in Charleston, SC. Email Josh at: josh@joshebock.com

Attributed to the Tenth Amendment Center.

One Response to Nullification: The states have a “nuclear option,” too

  1. euandus2 says:

    Letting the state governments have a role in health-care legislation risks capture or veto by the industry, yet consolidation at the US level is inconsistent with a Union that stretches over a continent. There is a way out of this dilemma. See http://euandus3.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/the-health-care-industry-dominating-the-states-federalism-as-capture/

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