by Josh Eboch
After decades of broken promises, many Americans have realized that whichever party is in office, the more power held by federal officials, the less control the people have over their own lives, and the more arrogant and dangerous those far off federal officials will become.
The only way to keep the government accountable, to keep its size and power where they cannot be easily abused, is to keep government close to home.
Yet over the century and a half since Lincoln settled the Confederacy question, an ongoing and unrestrained power grab by the federal government has led to the assumption that its mandate is unlimited. State obsequiousness to central authority in exchange for federal tax dollars has helped fuel that delusion, and resulted in significant loss of individual freedom over the years; but the true scope of federal arrogance has been on display only since last fall.
That was when the executive branch via President Bush began nationalizing huge swaths of private industry despite anÂ utter lack of constitutional authority to do so.
But even though more resources and power than ever are flowing into Washington, D.C., one day students of our history may look back on the early part of the Obama administration and see not a new authoritarian foundation, but rather the pinnacle of an unsustainably centralized power structure. Already, public attitudes toward the new president are shifting from cautious optimism about his professed faith in the American dream to incredulous horror at his continued and worsening abuse of federal power.
Thatâ€™s because, contrary to popular belief, the American people are not fools. They love liberty and can clearly see the dead hand of government as it grasps further than ever into their lives and wallets. The last six months have exposed a vacuum in the political marketplace and rancorous town hall meetings over health care â€œreformâ€ are just the beginning.
While members of Congress tell themselves that opposition to their statist agenda is motivated by ignorance or special interest cash, it is actually Americaâ€™s Anti-Federalist heritage re-emerging in front of their eyes. Millions of Americans have grown soÂ disillusioned by the tyrannical similarities between Republicans and Democrats in Congress (and in the presidency) that they are now raising serious questions about the fundamental virtues of federal versus state power.
And while proponents of state sovereignty may not be able to stop a president and his supermajority on health care or cap and trade, their movement is preparing for the start of a major upheaval in 2010.
And what’s coming wonâ€™t be your daddyâ€™s Revolution.
Even now, the rumblings have begun. Look no further than the stands taken this past spring byÂ Rick Perry in Texas andÂ Mark Sanford in South Carolina over taxes and unfunded mandates tied to federal stimulus money. Or theÂ sovereignty resolutions that have now passed in many states. These are not isolated coincidences.
During next yearâ€™s elections (and beyond) many candidates will argue that the time has come to stop subverting state interests to self-serving diktats of the federal government, or risk losing autonomy altogether.
And some of those candidates, mostly at the state level, will win. In the process, Anti-Federalism as an issue will regain its rightful prominence in our national political dialogue. Millions of Americans who currently feel shut out, disregarded, and unrepresented in national politics will demand their state representatives stop dreaming of an office on Capitol Hill and start bringing power and control back home where it belongs.
The key to success for this new generation of Anti-Federalists will be the countless small government groups that have sprouted like weeds all over the country in the past six months.
If they turn their formidable energy and principled fiscal conservatism to state politics, the pressure on those governments to reduce tax and regulatory burdens will be enormous. The representatives will have to respond, or risk being run out of office.
Eventually, to keep their jobs, they will fight for those same demands on behalf of their constituents at the national level; defending individual freedom against a power hungry federal oligarchy, just as the Constitution intended.
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.