I’m not talking about the so-called polarized politics of the last two years, although that’s certainly part of it. I’m talking about losing your unified democracy under the umbrella of “states rights.” Remember that phrase from your high school history class? It was the mantra that the South used to justify slavery.
This time it goes well beyond the South, and the “slavery” of the 21st century is far different from 19th century. Your skin color won’t shield you this time.
Have you heard the story about the Frog and the pot of water? Actually, it’s about two frogs. Which one are you?
Frog #1 was placed in a pot of cold water and a low fire was started under the pot. Frog #2 was placed in a pot of boiling water. Now we all know that any self-respecting frog would have the good sense to jump out of that boiling water. That’s what Frog #2 did. But what about Frog #1. I’m sorry to inform you, but Frog #1 didn’t make it. He got so used to the water gradually warming around him that when the water grew too hot, he no longer had the ability to save himself.
So while you’ve taking the kids to the movies, or gazing into your lover’s eyes, or doing your Christmas shopping, or watching the game on TV, or simply planning and living your life, the water has been coming to a boil underneath you.
There’s a lot of noise that has lately been made about the Constitution. Over the last year, the “right” would seem to have replaced their Bible with a new one. Unfortunately, all this reverence for the Constitution – at least the Constitution that we all were taught and grew up with – is PHONY.
The Founders of these United States anticipated that their document was not perfect and that future events might warrant some changes. So they provided a means to make corrections. Wisely, they made it very difficult and time consuming.
To amend the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in the U.S. House AND the U.S. Senate. Following that, three-fourths of the state legislatures must also ratify an amendment. That’s 38 out of 50 states.
Those who rant the loudest about our Constitution actually have little tolerance for it. They have even less tolerance for the process to change it. Why? Because they can’t win the hearts and minds of enough people to make the drastic changes that they seek.
So they found the path of least resistance. Pack the courts, bottom to top, and then challenge those parts of the constitution that they abhor and want changed. That method has been working well since Reagan took office. Because the Supreme Court justices are life-time appointments, the age of the justice became very important. Reagan nominated a 50-year old Antonin Scalia, likely guaranteeing a 30-year reign. Two years later the 52-year old Anthony Kennedy was nominated.
After the Bush Sr. appointment of David Souter and the ensuing disappointment of conservatives, 43-year old Clarence Thomas was nominated. Bush Jr. rounded out the likely 30 to 40 year reign of arch conservatives with his nomination of the 50-year old John Roberts as Supreme Court Justice and the 56-year Samuel Alito.
The uber-conservative conservatives on the Supreme Court successfully carried out two constitutional coups. In 2000 George W. Bush was effectively appointed to the presidency and in 2010 corporations were granted personhood. The latter was not the issue before the Court until the Court made it the issue subsequent to oral arguments.
Yet conservatives have grown impatient with Court constitutional changes and are looking for the coupe de grâce or death-blow to institute the New Federalism to replace the original Anti-Federalists. New Federalism is a “states-rights” federalism. Just one example of conservatives taking words and ideas and turning them inside out and upside down.
For good measure, however, the New Federalists are not depending on the Supreme Court for an eternity. Seeking protection from appointees in the future who may change the makeup of the Court, they are readying themselves with a “repeal amendment.” This amendment would repeal any federal law or regulation if the legislatures of two-thirds, not three-fourths, of the states voted to do so. According to the New York Times, “In the last several years, many states have passed so-called sovereignty resolutions, largely symbolic, aimed at nullifying federal laws they do not agree with, mostly on health care or gun control.”
The “repeal amendment” won the backing of soon-to-been House majority leader Eric Cantor and was introduced this month by Representative Rob Bishop, Utah Republican, who co-founded Utah’s Western States Coalition, a prominent states’ rights group.
Before you say, “It will never happen,” remember that the conservative narrative never gives up – no matter how insane, no matter how improbable, no matter how untrue. Conservatives have mastered the art and science of sociology, psychology and their stepchild marketing. They have taken the position that if not now, eventually. And they’ve found that this often works.
So if you want to live in a “United” States of America, pay attention. Do more than that. Every time you hear about the “repeal amendment” or anything that remotely sounds like it, say, “No.” In fact, say, “Hell, NO.”