What Is American? 6 - Loyalty

Didn't we resolve the question of secession a long time ago?

From the invention of the concept of human government, there has been an implicit social contract: The people support, or at least tolerate, their ruler, and the ruler protects the people from those who would prey on them, whether foreign or domestic.  A king might aggressively collect taxes from his peasants, but as long as he consistently led the knights against raiding barbarians or invaders and had sheriffs that chased after highwaymen and felons, he was still a good king.

Modern people expect a lot more from their governments, but the fundamental, basic, foundational role is still there: the #1 job of government must be to protect the innocent from the guilty, both foreign and domestic.

Which returns us to the nauseating story of Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, the five-times-deported, seven-times-convicted-felon illegal alien, who, with the assistance of a free lawyer J. Tony Serra, is now suing the Federal government for colluding with the state government in attempting to try him for his crimes.

You might think, well, it is the responsibility of a lawyer to represent their client's best interests, no matter how guilty the client may be.  And you'd be right - but free attorneys are not a human right.  They are a civil right, which should be available only to citizens.

In other words, J. Tony Serra is abusing the civil rights intended for citizens, for the purpose of enabling a criminal non-citizen to fleece and deny rights belonging to actual American citizens - in the case of Mr. Garcia-Zarate's most recent victim, her life.

If Mr. Serra were an isolated example, that would be disturbing enough, but we have a far worse problem: in reality, he accurately represents the values of the state of California.  Immediately after the late Ms. Steinle was denied justice by the acquittal of her killer, the California Senate - freely elected by the voters of California - saw fit to appoint an illegal immigrant to a government committee.  This individual, Lizbeth Mateo, ought to be in handcuffs on a bus back to her legal home country; instead she has been granted power over people in California, some of whom actually have a right to be there.

What happens when our elected President and federal government officials come to California to demand that our duly-passed immigration laws be enforced on all who break them?  Local government officials warn the criminals in advance, and use their local governmental power to stymie the enforcement of our laws by the creation of unconstitutional "sanctuary laws".

The Left crowed in glee when Federal courts found that the state of Arizona could not add to immigration laws, or even enforce the immigration laws of the Feds; anything to do with immigration laws, the courts ruled, are entirely the prerogative of the Federal government.  Well, now we have a Federal government trying to actually enforce Federal immigration laws as written, and - surprise! - all of a sudden, liberals say it's perfectly fine for states and local authorities to come up with their own rules.  If you are on the Left, at least in the view of our biased media, you will always be in the right.

Anyone with knowledge of history will find this concept familiar: since our founding, the question of nullification has hovered balefully over our body politic.  Unlike England, America was never designed as a unitary government with one single king.  Instead, it was a republic - an association of "free and independent States" that voluntarily pooled their resources and chose to delegate "certain enumerated Powers" to a strictly limited central government - yes, including immigration law - while reserving all other rights to themselves.

So what happens when the Federal government does something a state doesn't like?  In 1832, South Carolina decided unilaterally that the Federal government had overstepped its bounds in enacting a tariff; the state held a convention which determined that the tariff was null and void within the state.  The Feds prepared to enforce the tariff by force; South Carolina prepared to use force to resist.  Congress lowered the tariff to a level South Carolina could tolerate, which meant that the Civil War did not start three decades early on grounds totally unrelated to slavery.

The question wasn't truly settled until the Civil War, and now we know the answer: no, a state can't just withdraw from the United States, and yes, the Federal government can do pretty much anything it likes unless you can convince the Supreme Court that it can't.

Well, the Supreme Court already ruled that the Feds control immigration law, but somebody ought to tell the State of California, which has done, in principle and in effect, exactly as South Carolina did: nullified our immigration laws within their state.

It's not as if states have no recourse against laws they don't like.  They can (and do) sue.  Their representatives in Congress can work to change the law.  They could even participate in a state-called Constitutional Convention to propose an amendment to the Constitution.

But California isn't satisfied with these legitimate alternatives, for the same reason South Carolina wasn't two centuries ago: they know perfectly well that their views are not held by a majority of the states, so submitting them to republican democracy wouldn't accomplish what they want.

Is there any other alternative?  Sort of:

Activists who want California to leave the United States have filed papers to set in motion a process they hope would end with Golden State voters deciding whether to secede in 2021.

The libertarian in us finds this perfectly reasonable, and the conservative in us smiles at the enormous rightward shift the Rest of U.S. would experience if we threw overboard the Left Coast fruits and nuts.  But the American in us, as did Abraham Lincoln, finds this prospect horrifying.

By definition, those in favor of secession are not American in their hearts: they are taking direct action to become something else.  Why, then, do we have to treat their views as if they are a legitimate part of the national discourse when, by definition, they're not?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
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