State Sovereignty in the Face of Ruin

June 19, 2010

by Ben Faulkner

Editor’s Note: Mr. Faulkner makes some outstanding points in this article. Where we differ is in the solution. Repeal of the 17th Amendment (reestablishing Senators being chosen by the state legislatures) is not enough. Secession ends all this foolishness.

I also have a question for those of you who live in Texas: What are YOU going to do if the Federal government orders coastal evacuation, and sends in military personnel to evict you at the point of a gun? Is that finally enough for you to secede?)

By all accounts, the past several weeks have been an extraordinarily difficult span of time for the residents of the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and western Florida. A toxic combination of crude oil along with multiple gasses and chemicals continues to spew unabated into the Gulf of Mexico, the full impact of which is still a giant unknown. Tar balls are washing ashore along the seaboard and crude is oozing into marshes, while fishing has come to grinding halt. Amidst this disaster, a number of troubling stories have begun circulating (some confirmed and some remaining anecdotal) of a media blackout underway along stretches of beach, of troop deployments, of possibly using a tactical nuke to seal the fissure, and of the federal government preventing the impacted States and local communities in some instances from taking the necessary actions to prevent the sludge from making landfall or entering estuaries. Some reports have begun to suggest that scope of this event is several orders of magnitude greater than we are presently being told, a fact which certainly could be a plausible explanation for the effort to tightly control the flow of information from the region.

It is entirely possible that the oil itself is not necessarily the greatest danger afoot in this calamity. Flowing hydrogen sulfide, benzene, dichloromethane, vanadium and the oil-dispersant chemicals employed by BP are rendering parts of the Gulf a veritable grab back of phase-changing poisons. What effect the prevailing winds or a hurricane would have in moving these compounds landside is the billion dollar question at this point. The President is slated to address the public this evening on the disaster, but in all likelihood, he will make no mention whatsoever of the prospect of large-scale evacuations that some are suggesting may take place in the none-too-distant future. I for one do not care to speculate what the coming weeks might hold for the Gulf Region, but an honest assessment at the moment is looking grim.

So what do these events have to do with State Sovereignty, the Tenth Amendment Center, and the States Rights Movement? How is a massive man-made ecological disaster an issue within the scope of our advocacy? The short answer: we have witnessed (yet again) the inability or unwillingness of the federal government to protect life, liberty and property in the Gulf States while simultaneously expanding federal power; we have seen the spectacle of the governments of these States behaving submissively as though they need permission from the Federal Government to act to protect their citizens and their citizens interests; we have seen a recklessly-operating foreign corporation with special privileges effectively commandeer the mechanisms of the federal government to its own ends, namely to the suppression of vital information to insulate the company from the full wrath of public opinion.

These three happenings in tandem—federal usurpation, cowardly state submission, and flagrant corporatism—are exactly the type of abuses that the State Sovereignty Movement has come into existence to oppose. The point needs to be made with absolute clarity that the Constitution, including the Tenth Amendment, still applies in times of disaster, especially when the message from the federal government is abundantly clear: one of the federal corporate welfare-state’s lapdog entities has created a mega-disaster, and the people of the impacted States are going to be expected to dutifully suffer while federal power-augmenting agendas are put into play.

The existing state governments of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are obligated by their state constitutions to protect the lives, liberties, and property of their citizens; I would say all the more so if part of their citizenry find themselves on the business-end of a federal forced evacuation resulting from the spill. Simply put, the federal government has not been delegated the power to move the population of any State at gunpoint regardless of the extremity of the circumstances; nor does the federal government have any legitimate constitutional authority to prevent any of the affected States from taking the measures they deem appropriate, which are consistent with their own laws, to protect themselves.

I recently volunteered to serve as the Regional Coordinator for the Tenth Amendment Center in Northeast Georgia, an act I intend to formalize this coming Friday. In considering how to approach organizing and beginning informative efforts in my State, the events in the Gulf have been a painful and powerful impetus to my thinking. A simple, furtive glance at a map perhaps would tell you why. The geography of the Deep South guarantees that Georgia will be impacted by events on the Gulf. The problems facing Alabama and Florida, whatever they end up being, easily become ours, especially during Hurricane Season.

I am convinced that our efforts to restrain the federal government and to reestablish real, meaningful limits on its exercise of power through the States are at a critical juncture, and the way we delineate our thinking on the role of the federal government in disaster response is indicative of the extent to which we understand the concept of federalism and our fidelity to the Constitution as a governing instrument. It is therefore absolutely imperative that those of advocating the Founders’ Understanding of State Sovereignty pay close and careful attention to the unfolding situation along the Gulf, keeping the lessons of Katrina firmly in mind. The federal government heralded itself as savior, when all it seemed to accomplish during that disaster consisted of corralling thousands of suffering persons in confined squalor—and using the military to confiscate firearms desperately needed for the protection of private property.

The Tenth Amendment Center and State Sovereignty Movement need to be firm and consistent in our principles no matter what nature or man tosses at this continent. The Constitution, including the emphatic statement that all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved by the States and the People, rightfully applies before, during and after disaster, war, terrorism and economic meltdown.

In preparing to begin serving as a Regional Coordinator for the Tenth Amendment Center, it occurred to me that it might be useful to list several key principles that I intend to make an active part of my role, and which I see as necessarily key in furthering the goal of returning the federal government to a place within its proper constitutional limitations. Each of these I intend to write and speak about at length at later dates; the order they appear shouldn’t be taken as an order of importance.

These principles are as follows:

1. To resurrect a robust understanding of original and authentic federalism, it must be consciously remembered that the phrase “United States” is properly a plural term. This is not mere semantics. The shift in usage occurred in the wake of the War Between the States, and reflects a profound shift in thinking, namely a shift from what the Constitution actually delineates—a federal union of sovereign, co-equal states—to the modern conceptualization of “America” as a unitary nation-state. Intentionally using the plural form in speaking and writing is a brutal rhetorical means of exposing the shift, and reversing it mentally. Examples would include stating that the United States are Massachusetts, Alabama, etc.; these United States are not going to go to war without a Congressional declaration; the fifty United States do not concur with the global majority. As a testament to the how the Shift has permeated our usage, the grammar function of my spell check is going nuts with little green lines under that previous sentence. Also, it must be insisted that federal and national do not mean the same thing, and ought not to be used interchangeably by us for purposes of consistency. Properly, ours is strictly a federal form of government, under a federal constitution, not a national government emerging from a social contract.

2. Sovereignty in the American System of Government is not top-down, specifically, the Executive Branch of the Federal Government is not Sovereign, period.

3. In any political system, the highest earthly power abides in whatever entity or body or group that possesses the power to alter the fundamental or organizational law of that system; this is the locus of sovereignty. The power to make and unmake constitutions is a basic attribute of sovereignty, and it, as a power, entails a supremacy over constitutions. In the American system, the power to alter the Constitution remains with the States, more specifically, with the people in their organized capacity as the States.

4. What are the States? Ultimately, they are bodies political composed of the people therein; their existence depends solely on the will of the people sustaining them. The original thirteen States were created by the revolutionary act of their people; that is to say, they were created by the People within each State. The confederation was created by the States, and the subsequent federal government under the Constitution was created by the States. Had nine of the original thirteen States not consented, the Constitution would have had no authority, and today would be an historical footnote. The people of the United States did not create the Constitution as a single, aggregate body, as one people—no matter how many times John Marshall, Daniel Webster, Joseph Story and Abraham Lincoln said that they did. The people of each State acted separately in their own Conventions. Keeping in mind that “United States” is properly a plural term, the absurdity of saying that a single people acted is readily evident. The original States called the federal government into existence and delegated it specific, definite powers to act as their common agent; all States admitted since then were understood to be on equal footing with the original States, which means they cannot be said to have consented to the surrender of any more power than the original thirteen.

5. Predatory government is a problem at all levels; advocating the constitutional rights of the States in not the same as saying that a State government should be able to walk over its citizens; State governments are subject to the consent of the governed and natural law every bit as much as we would like for the federal government to be.

6. The root of many of our present federal evils lies within the ability of the federal government to use the Federal Reserve System to create from thin air the means of funding unconstitutional actions; the state sovereignty movement therefore necessarily involves striking the root. Opposing the inflationary monetary mechanism of central banking, pointing out the risks inherent in fractional reserve banking, and reminding the public of the constitutional mandate that States may only accept as payment gold and silver is part and parcel of the movement.

7. The States need to rediscover and enunciate the constitutional role of the States, and the branches of the Federal Government, and refuse flatly to comply with any action that violates the terms of the Constitution as they understand them.

8. Opposition to the erection of a federal police state, political censorship of the internet, assaults of the freedoms of speech and assembly—this clearly is within the purview of the Tenth Amendment Center; the remedy? The people using their States to interpose between themselves and federal usurpations and aggressions.

9. Remembering that the term “United States” is plural, and the federal government was conceived of as a common agent for the States, constitutional foreign policy would be understood as the common policy of the fifty states speaking through their federal government—not the policy of the federal government as a thing separate from and above the States. This is why eliminating the Seventeenth Amendment is so important—the act of repealing that amendment restores the true federal character to Congress’ composition, and gives the States their voice in formulating policy. Furthermore, it must be stated emphatically that no power was ever delegated to the federal government to willfully endanger the States or the People or to expose them to attack; meddling in the internal affairs of foreign lands tends to create blowback, and thus endangers the States and the People; no legitimate authority exists for these actions. Likewise, no legitimate authority exists for any agency within the federal government to engage in any sort of false-flag action. Such would be an act of war upon the States, which is what the Constitution specifically calls treason.

10. Leadership, leadership, leadership—the States need to be prepared to function in the absence of federal funding, given that the central government is spiraling towards what could easily be termed financial oblivion. As established, heavily centralized institutions begin to unravel, the States and local communities will become the focus of political life—after all, a broke Washington is a largely irrelevant Washington. Getting to that point involuntarily will not be pleasant, and as the people look for answers, the State Sovereignty Movement should be poised to provide the intellectual and practical groundwork for governing in the wake of, well, what I will call a federal capsize.

11.The movement is not about race. I intend to write a full, in-depth article later on this subject, hoping to move towards disentangling the two.

There are additional principles that apply, but these will suffice for now. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of the Gulf States. May they, and we, make it through the matter alive and free on the other end.

Copyright 2010 Tenth Amendment Center.