by Timothy Baldwin
After the release of my last column “Freedom’s Destruction by Constitutional De-Construction,” I received so many responses to my statement, “The people of the states [must] once again reject this national form of government and assert and defend the principles of federalism,” that I felt the need to develop this subject more thoroughly.
The question I received was: “How can I choose federalism once again?” Indeed, answering this question is crucial to injecting a cure for the sickness and illness of tyrannical, national control over the people of the states. Undoubtedly, we are going to need an acute dosage to even begin ridding ourselves of the disease destroying the body of our once-great federation.
The reality is, the answer is not complicated. The more relevant question will likely be, what portion of the cure(s) must we implement. This will require a diagnosis of the degree and seriousness of the disease’s attack on our Confederate Republic.
Let us analyze briefly the seriousness of the attack so that we may proportionally and accordingly respond and defend against the encroachments on our constitutional freedoms, guarantees and powers.
Keeping in line with my last article and the position that the national system of government (under which the United States currently operates) is completely contrary to the federal system that our founders and Constitution’s ratifiers bequeathed to us, a fact is established: We the People of the United States of America have been denied our natural and compactual rights under God and the Constitution.
Again, how can it be argued that it is now legally and morally right and proper to do what our Constitution did not create or authorize? How can freedom exist in a country where we supposedly believe in the “consent of the governed” when that consent has been usurped by force? Consequently, our right of defense is activated.
Make no mistake about this: the US Constitution did NOT create a national government, but rather created a federal government whereby the states were coequal with the federal government in the exercise and defense of the powers granted to them by the people of each State. The founders and ratifiers of the Constitution expressly rejected the notion that the federal government has supreme sovereignty.
The issue here is not whether there are “national components” of the procedures in the system, such as voting for the House of Representatives by the people. We know that the founders implemented a few elements of national-type procedure in the US Constitution, just as they did even in the Articles of Confederation.
Rather, the bottom-line issue is, whether the states have coequal power to exercise and defend their powers–and their citizens–and whether the Federal government has the power to force the states to accept its own interpretation and (de)construction of the Constitution. If the union of the United States was formed by the people of the states in their capacities as the sovereign of each State, creating a FEDERAL government, then the states are coequal in power and do have the right to exercise and defend their powers.
If the union of the United States was formed by the whole of the people as a mass body politic, without regard to the sovereign states, creating a NATIONAL government, then the states are mere corporations of the parent company, called the Federal government.
I need not expound the answer to this question here, because I have done so in numerous other articles before, proving that the union was formed by the states as states, and not by the people as one nation. The conclusion is more than provable that the founders and ratifiers of the Constitution did not create a nation, but created a federation, and actually expected the states to be the active guardians of freedom for their own people.
Thus, what methods can we use today to once again choose federalism over nationalism?
There are five basic methods by which the people of the states can counter the attacks of the federal government’s prolonged tyrannical usurpations of power. They are: (1) Change of Politicians; (2) Checks and Balances; (3) Constitutional Amendment; (4) Constitutional Convention; and (5) Revolution.
1. Change of Politicians. Alexander Hamilton notes in Federalist Paper 21, “The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men.” This method of cure is no mystery, and has been the mode of “change” in the US for the past 50 years. Dare I say, this method has proven to be anything but effectual? Please show me how changing the Federal government from Republican to Democrat and vice versa has done ANYTHING to reinstitute our federal form of government, provided by the Constitution. Both parties in the federal government do absolutely nothing to revert rightful power to the people of the states. I shall not waste any more valuable time or words on this ineffectual method. (Then again, if we had a majority of congressmen such as Ron Paul in Washington, D.C., we wouldn’t be having this discussion to begin with.)
2. Checks and Balances. There are two types of checks and balances: (a) federal against federal, and (b) State against federal. Since the early 1900s, the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government have usurped power from the states. To say that the people of the states can count on the three branches of the federal government to check each other in this regard and to maintain a Federal form of government is a joke. All three branches maintain that they possess the sole power (through the judiciary) to interpret and construe the Constitution, and that all others (i.e., the states) must submit thereto. This is in fact the very definition of nationalism, which the Constitution’s ratifiers rejected.
As for the states’ check against federal usurpations of power, most ignorant or disillusioned people would say that they lost that right when the Confederate States of America lost the Civil War in 1865, and from that point onward, the states could not check the federal government through arresting action. They suggest that to conquer equals the right to rule: a notion completely rejected in American jurisprudence. Time does not allow me to expand on this erroneous doctrine, so I will simply say, How ludicrous!
The fact is, the Federalist Paper writers expected the states to be the guardians against federal tyranny. This necessarily meant (as they expressed) that the states develop actual arms of resistance to such encroachments. This, of course, shows, once again, the FEDERAL character and nature of our form of government: the states were not subservient to the federal government’s dictates, but were coequal in power to protect their own authority and freedoms through their State Constitutions.
Thankfully, we are seeing a current resurgence of State activism to be the voice and arm of the people to protect and perpetuate the US Constitution. While the federal v. federal checks and balances have proven to be less than fruitful, the states today are taking their role more seriously in this regard, just as our founders and ratifiers demanded. It is this State power of active and passive nullification and resistance that will once again protect federalism and freedom in America. Therefore, it is this State power that affords us the best opportunity to defend liberty and restore constitutional government, and that we should expend most our energies to revive.
3. Constitutional Amendment. The US Constitution requires three-fourths of the STATES to amend the Constitution. Most certainly this is an effective tool to reverse and prevent evils in government. Our founders expected that this process would protect freedom and the principles of freedom. However, as we have seen since 1865, the amendment process has been used only to increase national power and decrease State power. From the states being denied power in the Senate, to the income tax and “privileges and immunities” clause of the fourteenth amendment, the nationalists of the twentieth century have had their heyday by deepening their squeeze of national ideals over federal. Ironically, the attack on federalism has come through the same document protecting our federation: the Constitution. (The illegality of amendments being used to propagate principles contrary to freedom and federalism is for another article and discussion.)
That being said: if there were enough states to amend the Constitution to clarify federal doctrines, limit federal government power, and reinstitute original State powers, then it most certainly would be beneficial. Praise the day when such amendments would be ratified.
4. Constitutional Convention. I have heard this method suggested by some in certain circles of the “patriot movement,” and while I understand the suggestion of calling a constitutional convention to rewrite the Constitution, I believe that to do so would likely create more problems than what we are dealing with today. However, there is a caveat, as explained below.
To convene a constitutional convention, states would have to send delegates (just as in 1787) for the purpose of discussing and drafting a Constitution. Not even getting into the legal issues and ramifications inherent in such a method, a very practical question is raised: Would a majority of the people convening at such a monumental event even possess the understanding, knowledge and belief needed to perpetuate and protect the principles of freedom and federalism? By virtue of what I see throughout the US today, I venture to say, No. I believe one of the greatest contributions to national ideals defeating federal ideals is that the people (including on State levels) do not understand, know or believe in the principles expressed by our founders and their forefathers.
Thus, to call a constitutional convention would most certainly place us in a worse situation. That said, there is one positive that could result from this. If the Constitution were re-written, it would require the ratification of the states that wanted to join a new union under a new contract (Constitution). In this case, it very well may provide a way for the people of the states to decide which path they wanted to take: national or federal. In other words, those states that yet wanted to live under Federalism and not Nationalism could reject the new compact and could declare themselves independent or seek to form yet another compact among like-minded states. (Of course, this could happen anyway, per number 2 above–even without a constitutional convention–making any proposed Con Con a dangerous and unnecessary action.)
5. Revolution. Revolution simply means a change of power. For those who perceive such a term as being a bad thing, why do they not then demonize the current illegitimate system of national government, because this current system is not the one the states ratified back in 1787? If a squatter turns your property into his, are you not within your rights to remove him, his family, his friends and his belongings completely from your property?
It is a fact that Americans (nationalists, federalists and even monarchists) believed in the natural right of revolution–that every generation has the God-given right to effect change by revolution when change cannot be reasonably expected and effected through other more peaceful means.
Coming full circle, then: To what degree has the federal government usurped its powers? This question is crucial because, as our forefathers expressed, resistance should be enacted proportionally to the usurpation. While there may be some who think that “it’s not all that bad,” I suggest that it is much worse than we think it is.
We are at a point today when we are not only fighting for State sovereignty and a federal system, but we are fighting for national sovereignty (according to the LAWS OF NATIONS as expressed by enlightenment philosophers and jurists), against those who desire that the US become part of the global community.
The evidence around us is beyond reasonable doubt: we the people of the United States have been fraudulently denied our rights under the laws of Nature and Nature’s God, and under the US Constitution. The rights to resist this tyranny already exist. The methods to choose federalism and freedom have their hands out, offering to help us. It is time we choose which method or methods will best reach the ultimate goal of freedom.
And as I said, I believe a revival of State sovereignty–whereby states are resolved to exercise the authority they have per the terms of their charter (Constitution)–is the most attractive and effective method currently feasible to reclaim federalism and freedom in America.
Tim Baldwin is an attorney who received his Juris Doctor degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a former felony prosecutor for the Florida State Attorneyâ€™s Office and now owns his own private law practice. He is author of a soon-to-be-published new book, entitled FREEDOM FOR A CHANGE. Tim is also one of Americaâ€™s foremost defenders of State sovereignty. See his blog.