by Michael Maharrey

Late one evening, a DEA agent shows up on at the doorstep of a farmhouse in south central Kentucky. He pounds on the door impatiently, waits about 15 seconds and pounds again. Growing more agitated, he shakes the screen door, turns in a circle and then gives the door a couple more good, hard raps.

Finally, a grizzled old farmer opens the door and peers into twilight.

“Sorry to keep ya waitin’. Was just fixin’ to eat some supper. How kin I hep, ya?”

The agent stands tall and straight and  in his  most official voice declares, “I’m Agent Murdoch, DEA. I’m here to inspect your fields to make sure there are no illegal drugs growing on this property,” He pauses a moment with an air of gravity.  “I’m not asking permission. Just letting you know.”

The old farmer steps out onto the porch as the rickety screen door clatters closed behind him. He hitches up his coveralls and peers quizzically at the agent, absentmindedly brushing a fly away from his forehead.

“I reckon that’ll be jist fine,” he says. “But I’ll just warn ya – ya don’t want to go into the west field over yonder,” he said, pointing to an old rusty gate silhouetted in the setting sun.

The agent bristles, reaches into his suit coat pocket and whips out a badge.

“You see this old-timer? It says DEA. That means I can go anyplace I damn well please. And  I can do anything I damn well please. I have the authority. Do you understand me?”

The old farmer, simply shrugs and cocks one busy, old eyebrow.

“Suit yeer-self, son.”

The agent quickly strides across a dusty driveway and makes his way through the creaky gate, heading  into the west field. The farmer follows and leans nonchalantly against a fence post next to the gate, gnawing on a toothpick.

The fed makes it about half way across the field when Roscoe, a massive red bull, suddenly charges out of a treeline near the back of the field. The agent, screams in horror and turns, hightailing it toward the gate. But it quickly becomes clear he’ll never make it. The 2,000 pound animal quickly closes the gap between itself and the agent.

Moments before a certain goring, the farmer cups his hands around his mouth and yells, “Show him yer badge! Show him yer badge!”

***
I respect authority.

But when an individual or institution takes its authority beyond prescribed limits, it’s clear in my mind that we have the right to resist.

Most people in the United States seem to hold the federal government in awe. It goes beyond respect into what I would call an unwarranted reverence. Yes, we should respect legitimate authority. But when the feds exercise power not granted by the Constitution, citizens have a right and duty to stand against it. We’re not talking rebellion against legitimate authority. We are talking about standing firm against unwarranted, unconstitutional and illegal acts.

And we can stand against it – through our state governments.

James Madison understood the power of the states and the people, and he envisioned it a check on overreaching federal power. When the states band together and stand against unconstitutional overreach, they become a rampaging bull. And no federal badge can stop it.

Should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union, the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassment created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, very serious impediments; and were the sentiments of several adjoining States happen to be in Union, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter. – James Madison, Federalist 46


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