Saturday, December 19, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For.

There is a storm brewing, more and more there are those who are calling for nullification by their state against the rules being written in Congress under Obama. Emotionally, I completely understand and on principle find agreement in telling them to stuff their UN-Constitutional power grabs. However I caution be very careful what you wish for.

Wal-Mart and other sporting goods stores are finding it difficult to keep ammunition on their shelves as people nearly meet the trucks and purchase it to stock up their home supplies. There is an undercurrent advocating, or at least preparing for a new civil war in America. If articles written in Europe are to be believed the Obama Administration is taking it seriously and preparing for it as well, if not instigating it. Again, I caution be very careful what you wish for.

As difficult as it is to watch an out of control political class run roughshod over the will of the people, and our Constitutional liberties, we need to work within the system to change it. Our opponents are not allowing themselves to be restrained by our Constitution, they have open contempt for it, and see it at most a hindrance to be ignored. We have to go no no further than the words of our current president that our Constitution is "nothing but a list of negative rules." He has surrounded himself with like believes who have even written books on how our Bill of Rights needs to be dismantled and rewritten. Cas Sunstein wrote "The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need it More Than Ever." This parrots Obama's own words quoted a few years ago. Obviously We The People are under an assault of our Liberty and Rights unlike anything we have seen before.

Let's look at the history of the idea of Nullification. What is nullification? It is the theoretical right of a state to suspend the operation of a federal law within it's boundaries. It goes back to the very beginning of our Republic, after the loose Articles of Confederation had proved ineffective. Although the states definitely feared a tyrannical central government, they had agreed to yield certain powers to the federal government under the Constitution. The principles of nullification was supported by many of the founders, including James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. It has also been used by slavery opponents as a justification for failing to enforce the fugitive slave laws, which compelled the return of runaway slaves.

In 1828 a reluctant John Quincy Adams signed the largest tariff in American history at the insistence of Northern merchants, who wanted to protect their products by making European imports more expensive. This enraged the South, led by John Caldwell Calhoun, who holds the unusual distinction of being Vice President under two consecutive terms of John Quincy Adams, and then Andrew Jackson. Jackson and Calhoun were extreme political rivals, and became dueling politically over the issue of federal power.

Calhoun labeled it the "Tariff of Abominations." An angry Calhoun anonymously wrote an essay in 1828, "The South Carolina Exposition and Protest." Calling the tariff "unconstitutional, oppressive and unjust," he began to lay legal groundwork for the right of the states to "nullify" federal laws. In 1831 Calhoun made a clean break with Jackson, publicly issuing an address that made it clear he stood with the "nullifiers." In 1832 he became the first man to resign from the Vice Presidency, leaving when he won a seat from South Carolina in the Senate.

On November 24th, 1832, a South Carolina state convention issued an Ordinance of Nullification, which declared "null, void, and no law" the high protective tariff. President Jackson was not amused. He wrote to one of his generals, "Can any one of common sense believe the absurdity that a faction of any state, or a state, has a right to secede and destroy this union and the liberty of our country with it; or nullify laws of the union; then indeed is our Constitution a rope of sand; under such I would not live...The union must be preserved, and it will now be tested, by the support I get from the people. I will die for this union."

Jackson threatened to send fifty thousand troops to enforce the tariff in the port of Charleston when he said, "Disunion by armed force is treason. Are you really ready to incur this guilt?" The Governor and legislator of South Carolina stood defiant and called for ten thousand militiaman to repel any "invasion" by federal troops. America was on the verge of civil war. Faced with the prospects of warfare over the tariff, Calhoun joined forces with Henry Clay to reconcile the claims of South Carolina with those of the federal government. The results were the Compromise Tariff of 1833 which gradually reduced tariffs until 1842. The South Carolina convention repealed the Ordinance of Nullification, and both sides claimed victory. However, the point remains that whenever questions of states' rights came up, they had been solved through compromise, at least until the Civil War, and since.

The "threat" of nullification may be effective. The actual attempt would be suicide for not only those who promote, their state, and the union. It is much like the use today of "going to the media" in a dispute with a company. Until you actually do, it can be very effective in intimidating those in the company to soften their stance in a dispute, however, after it is done, there is no longer any motivation to do so, and everyone loses.

When I hear rumblings of a new Civil War, I wonder if those speaking have any idea of the terror, death, and pain that the last one caused. There were at least 618,000 who were killed in battles during our Civil War, records are not sure what the total numbers might have been. In the Civil War there were more or less defined boundaries and the combatants wore different uniforms under the guidance of military leadership. If things deteriorate into Civil War today, it wouldn't look anything like that, it would be much more like the French Revolution with no clear lines, no uniforms, just a national melee, where 40,000 people died during the "Terror" in just a few months. The alliances were to different political alignments who were intermixed throughout society, this is where we would be today.

We are greatly divided politically today, it is a time of great strife, but we need to focus on coming together and taking our nation back at the ballot box in 2010. We need to come together under one unified party to turn back the Democrat attack on our Constitution. Of course if Obama and the Democrats would suspend that election, all bets should be off.

To close, let's hear from one of our great leaders Senator Daniel Webster's speech in January of 1830 as the nullification process was heating up.

"I have not allowed myself, Sir, to look beyond the Union, to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving liberty when the bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hand over the precipice of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can fathom the depth of the abyss below... While the Union lasts, we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us for us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that in my day, at least, that curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind! When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as "What is all this worth?" nor those words of delusion and folly, "Liberty first and Union afterwards"; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart - Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable."

I wouldn't want to put it to the test today, I am not sure we have men like Henry Clay and Daniel Webster who are so respected by both sides of any issue to stand in the gap and bring us back together.

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