The Necessity of Confederal Government

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The first objection from Anti-Federalists was that the extensive territory of 1780s America could not support republican government.

Citing a widely respected Charles De Montesquieu, republican government requires the consent of the governed across a small territory with a relatively homogeneous population. James Winthrop of Massachusetts expressed a common belief when he said, “The idea of an uncompounded republic [the size of the United States,] containing six million inhabitants all reduced to the same standard of morals, of habits, and of laws, is in itself an absurdity, and contrary to the whole experience of mankind.” Liberty under a single code of law for South Carolina and Massachusetts was impossible.

Montesquieu and our colonial experience supported the Anti-Federalists’ observation. Any observer could see that countries with extensive territories such as Russia, the Mongol Empire, and China required despotic government to keep diverse peoples in check. Only small territories such as those of Greek city-states or early Rome could support republican ways. It stands to reason that government which requires consent of the governed can only work among a people of similar traditions and customs.

The Anti-Federalists unknowingly provided a fabulous 21st century argument for repeal of the 17th Amendment, a return to a senate of the states. Through the Framers’ design of divided power in a confederal republic, a republic composed of member republics, the United States could keep free government across a wide continent. Within smaller component republics, South Carolinians could be South Carolinians, and Bay State folks could frame government suitable for Massachusetts.

Progressives have long regarded the states as illegitimate bastions of racism whose very existence delays social justice. State sponsored slavery, Jim Crow, Confederate flags are all associated with knuckle-draggers. Leave aside for this discussion the fact that the institutions they abhor were sponsored by the political party of Hillary Clinton.

Given the chance, the democrat party would do away with the states. To what progressive purpose do the states serve? Generally, and with few exceptions, most states stand athwart or at best do not support a top-down Leftist Utopia.

In Leftist visions, the remains of the states and their local governments would be subject to the absolute directives of the president’s administrators. Wish to build a road? The municipality will need the consent of the Civil Rights Commission. The assumption is that racist local rednecks will ill-serve minority communities. Any reference to Christianity in schools is verboten, while praise of all things muslim is mandatory.

As the president’s bureaucrats and scotus continually chip away at state sovereignty, the states will soon have far fewer responsibilities and powers. America will be the despotic empire known by Montesquieu and feared by Federalists and Anti-Federalists alike. We are on the path to become a vast country of diverse peoples who can only be ruled by the iron fist of a distant Khan, Czar, Emperor . . . or President.

Retention of the states as republics within a federal system isn’t a philosophical exercise; the preservation of residual powers, those not granted to the government of their creation is essential to liberty.

Free government is impossible without vibrant member state republics.

Little time remains. Article V.

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