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Can Federalism Save Us?

Another war between the states has begun, with words if not with bullets. California Governor Gavin Newsom, the Democratic favorite for the nomination if President Joe Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris don’t run, decried Florida and its governor, Ron DeSantis, in a new ad. “I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight,” he said, “or join us in California.” It’s startling to hear a call for political migration from a state governor. It suggests that we don’t live in the same country.

Governor DeSantis is the leading candidate to be the 2024 Republican nominee if President Donald Trump doesn’t run. Governor DeSantis built his political persona by directly challenging the federal government on COVID-19 policies, immigration, and transgender coddling. He has vowed that constitutional carry, or the right to carry firearms without a permit, will be law in Florida “before I am done as governor.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Honoring the Victims of Communism press conference on May 9, 2022. DeSantis later signed a bill making Nov. 7 Victims of Communism Day. (Credit Image: © Alie Skowronski/Miami Herald/TNS via ZUMA Press Wire)

He laid out the beginnings of a foreign policy when he said America isn’t doing enough to stop the spread of “left-wing totalitarian ideology” in Latin America. That is what many Cubans and other Hispanics who fled communism want to hear. He has also done what few other Republicans have by directly fighting corporate power. Florida passed a law banning instruction on homosexuality and transgenderism in public schools for young children. Disney publicly opposed it. Governor DeSantis moved to strip the company of its special legal privileges in Orlando. This has made companies far less vocal about pushing far-left cultural and sexual policies. If other Republicans were willing to fight “Woke Capital,” the culture wars might shift quickly.

Progressives understand what a threat Governor DeSantis is, and that is why Gavin Newsom made the ad. Governor DeSantis also enjoys twitting the media, and Democrats want a scrapper of their own. Many, especially younger voters, think President Biden is too tame and too old. Governor Newsom andhismedia allies want Democrats to fight Republicans, not make deals with them. This is a little like Donald Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP in 2015–2016. “Progressives” want to shove aside the leading Democrats.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (Credit Image: © Ringo Chiu/ZUMA Press Wire)

What did leftists think when Joe Biden reminisced in 2019 about the “civility” he enjoyed when was a senator, working even with segregationists? His claim that he would be able to get things done seems silly after the failure of his signature “Build Back Better” plan. He couldn’t even deliver all the votes from his own party.

In 2020, leftists dreamed of defunding the police, spending billions to fight climate change, repealing tax cuts, and, perhaps, changing American identity itself. Socialism became mainstream. Furious protesters ripped down statues of American icons. The world was at their feet.

Now, President Biden’s proposed 2023 budget increases funding for police, the Trump tax cuts remain, the Administration is on the defensive over inflation, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have tamed congressional progressives, and the government is spending billions on weapons for Ukraine — a cause most Republicans support. If President Biden had a chance to impose a real political realignment, he blew it. That’s draining progressive belief in the federal government and the system. The more who lose faith the better.

If you supported Donald Trump in 2015–2016, you were probably disappointed by what he did in office. He had an opportunity to change history, but staffed his administration with establishment flunkies who ruined it from within.

Progressives feel the same way about Joe Biden. They’re not frustrated; they’re furious. The Intercept, a progressive outlet, reports that “callout culture” has become self-defeating. The progressive advocacy space, it said, “has, more or less, ceased to function” because activists attack their own organizations.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is also a terrifying shock to a movement that assumes history is always on its side and that the clock “would never run backwards.” “Christian nationalism,” discussed by the Associated Press, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Vice and other outlets, scares activists who think The Handmaid’s Tale is America’s future. Author Margaret Atwood seems to be egging on their morbid fantasies.

Demonstrators dressed as handmaids from The Handmaid’s Tale, stand in front of the Capitol. (Credit Image: © Allison Bailey/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press)

The progressives want a fighter who can unite them against terrifying foes. Gavin Newsom has a solid political base and runs a state that could easily be independent. He’s well placed to be the progressive president-in-exile. He’s already acting like one, not just passing progressive policies in his own state but insulting the policies of other states.

He promises California will offer abortions to out-of-state women. He signed a law banning gun companies from marketing that “reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.” This seems utterly subjective and could potentially ruin any gun company caught in California courts. He signed a bill that legalized loitering for “sex work.” He will probably sign another that makes the state a “sanctuary” for “trans kids,” as it already is for illegals. Its sponsor, Scott Wiener, says it will “grant refuge to trans kids & their parents who flee to CA from Texas” or other states.

Senator Wiener mentioned Texas because the Lone Star State, which could also be its own country, banned transgender women from playing on women’s teams. Earlier this year, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a nonbinding opinion calling gender transition in minors child abuse. Soon afterward, Governor Greg Abbott told the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate whenever minors are getting puberty blockers, hormone therapy, or other treatments for transitioning. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick wants to ban sex changes for minors entirely.

Abortion and transgenderism are deeply moral questions for many people. If you believe abortion is murder or that blocking puberty is child abuse, there’s no room for compromise. If you believe “gender-affirming care” and abortion are basic human rights, breaking a state law means nothing. It’s like the problem of slavery. If slaves are property, states that welcome escaped slaves, encourage violent abolitionists, or cheer slave revolts are promoting theft, murder, and treason. If slavery is an obscenity, states and people that permit it have forfeited all legitimacy. Today, people who want to ban prisons and some pro-lifers who want to ban abortion call themselves “abolitionists.”

The American system was not designed to be unitary. With slavery and other issues dividing the 13 colonies from the beginning, the solution was federalism. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people,” says the Tenth Amendment. On issues where no compromise is possible, states are supposed to run their own affairs.

The Supreme Court and the federal government have crushed federalism by asserting federal power. While countless media outlets are decrying today’s “illegitimate Supreme Court,” almost every major progressive victory — including same-sex marriage, abortion, desegregation, the doctrine of “disparate impact,” affirmative action, abolishing school prayer — was imposed by the Supreme Court.

Taking journalists and progressives at their word, if the Court is illegitimate today, it’s hard to see why it was legitimate in the past. Christopher Caldwell argued in The Age of Entitlement that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 essentially replaced the Constitution. The Framers surely didn’t think they were giving the federal government the power to abolish freedom of association.

If the Supreme Court is illegitimate, why should we respect its earlier decisions? The Framers wanted Congress to challenge the Supreme Court but sadly they overestimated the courage of the people’s elected representatives, both state and federal. If Democrats challenge court rulings, perhaps Republicans will learn they can do the same thing.

Social cleavage and Americans moving to states that share their values could restore state and regional identities. Unless the Constitution is utterly meaningless, overturning Roe is just the beginning in returning powers to the states and making state identity mean something.

Part of that process means abolishing the administrative state — the sprawling bureaucracy that issues new rules without democratic input. The Supreme Court took a step towards sanity with West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which ruled that bureaucrats do not having sweeping powers to impose regulations without any legislative basis. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the decision was a “very important victory for separation of powers, for the rule of law.” He explained that the issue is not just about the environment, but the way government should work. “Congress needs to be the decider, not an unelected bureaucracy.” he said. “If the situation facing the climate is truly existential, Democrats should explain why they can’t come up with a law explaining what businesses are expected to do.”

William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building, home of the Environmental Protection Agency.

If the federal government continues to usurp the powers of the states, there should be nullification or secession. Both conservatives and leftists are considering this. “Texas retains the right to secede from the United States, and the Texas Legislature should be called upon to pass a referendum consistent thereto,” read a plank recently adopted by the Texas Republican Party. Texas v. White ruled in 1869 that a state can’t unilaterally secede from the Union, but a Supreme Court ruling can always be overturned by another ruling. It’s not just Texas. The San Francisco Chronicle argued that “California has two choices in these dark times: lead or secede.” Author Joe Garofoli said:

California — the world’s fifth-largest economy — isn’t waiting for marching orders from a federal government that is paralyzed by gridlock or a conservative Supreme Court that is drawing its inspiration from the 1700s. From abortion rights to gun safety to climate change to immigration to health care, California is becoming the nation-state that Gov. Gavin Newsom often refers to it as.

All federal officials take their oath to the Constitution, which is from the 1700s. If you can ignore the Constitution because it is old, where do rules come from? Many journalists seem to think they can determine what is legitimate and what isn’t, but they are losing power. Just 16 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of trust in newspapers, and just 11 percent in television news. That’s a drop of five points from just a year ago. According to Gallup, trust in almost every major institution is falling.

Though trust in media is low, any group capable of political action needs to communicate. That’s why so many journalists, NGOs, and federal employees want to control what people read and say. “There is wide agreement across the federal government that coordinated disinformation campaigns threaten to exacerbate public health emergencies, stoke ethnic and racial divisions, and even undermine democracy itself,” said the New York Times this week. Its story lamented the death of the Department of Homeland Security’s “Disinformation Governance Board.”

The failure to act, according to experts, has left openings for new waves of disinformation ahead of November’s midterm elections — and even for violence like the racial massacre at a Buffalo supermarket in May, which was motivated by a baseless conspiracy theory that global forces aimed to “replace” white Americans with immigrants.

The New York Times did not mention that its own columnists have written pieces called “White Extinction Anxiety” and “We Can Replace Them.” One man’s truth is another man’s disinformation. If the federal government tries to make up and enforce an official party line, it will encourage more dissent, especially when the party line is obviously false.

The most destructive disinformation in America today is surely the myth of racial equality. That is stoking violence because it forbids factual explanations for black failure despite affirmative action — which may not even last much longer. The Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of racial preferences soon.

Whatever happens in that case, our rulers have saddled us with a class of parasitic racial activists. They are making it hard to carry out the basic functions of government because even normal tasks are “racist.” For example, the Biden Administration is essentially abandoning its duty to enforce immigration laws, thus undermining the meaning of citizenship and law. According to the Washington Examiner, the federal government, by not prosecuting illegal immigrants, is enacting a “de-facto amnesty” for up to one million people. In response, several counties in Texas have declared an “invasion,” a move supported by Republican Rep. Chip Roy.

Governor Greg Abbott has given state authorities the power to return illegals to border crossings. Since the federal government is supposed to enforce immigration law, this will end up in court. Ultimately, it’s a question the Founders never could have considered: What happens when the federal government encourages an invasion?

In theory, our system provides many routes to autonomy, and, ultimately, sovereignty. Decentralization means we can pursue “radical” ends through moderate means. Even normal conservatives are beginning to think of the Potomac Regime as something illegitimate and foreign.

The movements to form new states within the Union or to migrate to politically friendly territory are already under way. After the Supreme Court’s recent actions, this will intensify. Progressives may not want to live in a conservative state, but if they do, they can always go elsewhere for an abortion. White advocates, however, would be foolish to expect even the pretense of law in progressive states. While moving to a conservative area doesn’t guarantee justice, it at least gives you a chance. On paper, federalism could save us if we had strong governors and activists willing to use the powers states and counties still enjoy, though money and the ethnic vote could overwhelm decades of patient effort. Few communities can withstand media hostility, well-funded NGO activists, and financial and media deplatforming.

But we have more advantages than ever before. The central government is failing to do its job. To take the obvious example, President Biden was supposed to end the pandemic, reduce political instability, keep the economy healthy, and restore normality after the supposed chaos of the Trump Administration. He’s failing in all these tasks. Where our rulers have undisputed control is in creating morally compelling stories that energize left-wing activists, but few believe they can deliver anything of value beyond victories over political enemies. Just as in race relations, blacks need whites but whites don’t need blacks, leftists need a “far-right” political enemy to justify their existence. Rightists don’t need them. The further we are physically removed from them, the more they turn against each other. The more they fail, the easier it becomes to separate.

However, there should be no illusions that things will get so bad that people will “spontaneously” react and return to sanity. Nor should white advocates assume that those who flee California or New York City will have learned their lesson. They may simply continue to vote for the policies that caused their problems to begin with. However, white advocates don’t need a majority, just a large minority that can operate independently of central power and shrug off media attacks.

The system will fight back with more hard repression, but this won’t succeed. While white advocates like the Patriot Front are being unjustly treated and Americans involved in the January 6, 2021 riot continue to suffer, activists keep stepping forward.

Decentralization and federalism could save us. That doesn’t mean they will, or that Republicans will suddenly “wake up” and understand racial reality. Federalism is a means, but not an end. What the end is — a civic nationalist United States; a white Republic; a Western civilization-state; small communities of churches, tribes, and families working together — is the subject for another day.

Above all, we need people who are willing to relocate to areas where they can live and work together. We must build networks not dependent on the system and make them strong enough to gain local or state power. Even if we try it and it doesn’t work, our opponents will overreact in such a way that it will lead to even greater opportunities.

In America, we still have a constitutional order that offers a way for us to liberate ourselves. It means turning our backs on the ruling class, its values, and its client populations. If we act, we win. If not, we will be ground down by a ruling class bereft of legitimacy and competence. America is coming apart. It’s time to reclaim our piece of it. It’s a new beginning, rooted in the principles of federalism, freedom, and self-government that built America in the first place. We European-Americans, we who built this country, are getting a second chance to become who we are. Let’s not blow it.