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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The past is gone: Why liberals should rethink states' rights

The past is gone: Why liberals should rethink states' rights

From the piece:

America's fraught relationship with federalism is evident in the fact that it's nearly impossible to see the phrase "states' rights" without thinking of slavery, Jim Crow, and the ideology of white supremacy. For decades, "states' rights advocates" invoked the vertical separation of powers to help them subjugate blacks. Post-WWII icons of the right like William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater never erred more seriously than when they opposed federal intervention to safeguard the equality of black Americans, as if preserving federalism as a constitutional mechanism to protect liberty mattered more than liberty itself. Liberals justifiably criticize those men for their blindness -- their failure to discern that Jim Crow was an unmitigated scourge, so unjust that extraordinary steps to end it were not only justified, but incumbent upon any nation of liberty-loving people.

It is precisely the evil of slavery and the incomparable importance of undoing its legacy that ought to make us open to the possibility that liberalism was best served in that instance by infringing on state prerogatives, but is best served in most instances by respecting Madisonian federalism. 

Isn't there evidence for that notion in current events?


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