Politicians at the federal level always try to sell the United States as a singular nation. Hillary Clinton, for example, peddled this myth during her speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention:
When representatives from 13 unruly colonies met just down the road from here, some wanted to stick with the king. Some wanted to stick it to the king, and go their own way. The revolution hung in the balance. Then somehow they began listening to each other … compromising … finding common purpose. And by the time they left Philadelphia, they had begun to see themselves as one nation.”
Federal government officials have to sell this idea of “one nation” governopoly in order to justify their meddling in virtually every area of our life. The concept of state sovereignty dilutes their power and makes it more difficult for them to impose all of the crap they want to impose. So, they do everything within their power to erase state lines and subjugate the “unruly” states to federal authority.
Quite simply, this is bovine scat.
The founding generation never conceived the United States as a “nation.” A nation implies a single, unified political society. When they declared independence, the colonies became 13 sovereign nations in their own right. They did quickly ban together in a confederation, but this is not the same thing as a singular “nation” in the modern sense.
Under the Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress had virtually no authority over the states. In fact, the loose nature of the confederation eventually led to the Constitution delegating more authority to the general government.
But even under the Constitution, the United States are not “one nation.” It’s not the United State.
Now, this is not to say some individuals in the founding generation didn’t envision America as “one nation.” Alexander Hamilton in particular dreamed of a single nation with the states merely functioning as corporations. But this was not the system eventually created by the Constitution. Even Hamilton conceded this in Federalist #32.
An entire consolidation of the States into one complete national sovereignty would imply an entire subordination of the parts; and whatever powers might remain in them, would be altogether dependent on the general will. But the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States.”
The United States exist as a federal republic. The government has some national characteristics, but the country was never consolidated into a singular entity. The states maintain their sovereignty, giving up only a few powers that were specifically delegated to the general government – retaining all the rest.
Black’s Law Dictionary describes the difference between a nation and a federal republic.
A national government is a government of the people of a single state or nation, united as a community by what is termed the ‘social compact,’ and possessing complete and perfect supremacy over persons and things, so far as they can be made the lawful objects of civil government. A federal government is distinguished from a national government by its being the government of a community of independent and sovereign states, united by compact.”
James Madison, in Federalist #39, did perhaps the best job describing the American polity.
First, in order to ascertain the real character of the government, it may be considered in relation to the foundation on which it is to be established; to the sources from which its ordinary powers are to be drawn; to the operation of those powers; to the extent of them; and to the authority by which future changes in the government are to be introduced.
On examining the first relation, it appears, on one hand, that the Constitution is to be founded on the assent and ratification of the people of America, given by deputies elected for the special purpose; but, on the other, that this assent and ratification is to be given by the people, not as individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they respectively belong. It is to be the assent and ratification of the several States, derived from the supreme authority in each State, the authority of the people themselves. The act, therefore, establishing the Constitution, will not be a national, but a federal act.
That it will be a federal and not a national act, as these terms are understood by the objectors; the act of the people, as forming so many independent States, not as forming one aggregate nation, is obvious from this single consideration, that it is to result neither from the decision of a majority of the people of the Union, nor from that of a majority of the States. It must result from the unanimous assent of the several States that are parties to it, differing no otherwise from their ordinary assent than in its being expressed, not by the legislative authority, but by that of the people themselves. Were the people regarded in this transaction as forming one nation, the will of the majority of the whole people of the United States would bind the minority, in the same manner as the majority in each State must bind the minority; and the will of the majority must be determined either by a comparison of the individual votes, or by considering the will of the majority of the States as evidence of the will of a majority of the people of the United States. Neither of these rules have been adopted. Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a federal, and not a national constitution.” [Emphasis added]
Many members of the founding generation would be appalled to hear federal government officials talking about one nation. They viewed this kind of consolidation – governopoly – one of the gravest threats to liberty.
During the Massachusetts ratifying convention, delegate Fisher Ames argued for the inclusion of what would later become the Tenth Amendment.
A consolidation of the States would subvert the new Constitution, and against which this article [the Tenth Amendment] is our best security. Too much provision cannot be made against consolidation. The State Governments represent the wishes and feelings, and the local interests of the people. They are the safeguard and ornament of the Constitution; they will protect the period of our liberties; they will afford a shelter against the abuse of power, and will be the natural avengers of our violated rights.”
When politicians like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump start talking about America as one nation, they reveal their ignorance of the American constitutional system and history.
More importantly, talk of “one nation” reveals a mindset rooted in a lust for power. It’s certainly easier to rule over and control “one nation” than it is 50 unruly states. They want governopoly. We should resist them.
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