What Is To Be Done? Part 4 - States Rights Ride Again

It's time for the states to remember who they are, and tell the Feds to take a hike.

As the inauguration of our Pretender-President Joe Biden draws ever closer, those on the Right watch aghast as their country and traditional liberties slip away.

How We Got Here

How have the enemies of historical America become so powerful?

We've discussed the universal tendency of governments to expand government power and cost until taxpayers can't afford the government any more.  History shows that societies collapse when the taxpaying public can no longer afford the costs their government imposes on their society.

We thought this was a manifestation of bureaucratic greed.  Confucius observed that unless the Emperor chopped off enough heads to keep the deep state honest, the bureaucracy would steal more and more tax money, leaving fewer resources to maintain roads and the army.

In a macro sense we were correct, but perhaps we missed the underlying mechanism which drives long-term bureaucratic growth.  The Atlantic article "Can History Predict the Future" discussed Peter Turchin's explanation that it wasn't just that bureaucrats wanted to steal money for themselves, they were looking out for their children.

Prof. Turchin is a Russian ecologist who created mathematical models to explain why natural populations grow and collapse.  The Atlantic credits him with introducing mathematical rigor into the study of ecology, and discusses his thoughts on the mathematics behind current trends in American civilization.

As living organisms expand by geometric progression until the population collapses when they exhaust the resources they need to survive, our ruling educated elites are multiplying faster than legitimate government positions can be created for them.  Members of the Saudi royal family are multiplying faster than the government can find royal jobs, for example.  American elites have fewer children than the Saudis, but American elites are still multiplying too fast because birth isn't the only way they're created anymore:

In the United States, elites over­produce themselves through economic and educational upward mobility: More and more people get rich, and more and more get educated. ...  problems begin when money and Harvard degrees become like royal titles in Saudi Arabia. If lots of people have them, but only some have real power, the ones who don't have power eventually turn on the ones who do.

If someone is educated enough and ambitious enough to want to join the power elite, but there aren't any powerful positions available for them, one approach is to increase government power to create a new power position.  That takes freedom away from ordinary citizens, but it's generally easier than displacing a powerful person to take over an existing position.  How often do incumbents lose elections?

... you can see more and more aspirants fighting for a single job at, say, a prestigious law firm, or in an influential government sinecure ...

"You have a situation now where there are many more elites fighting for the same position, and some portion of them will convert to counter-elites," Turchin said.

He sees the battle between President Trump and the Deep State as a classic conflict between elite factions.  "The Donald" was rich and well-known, but he wasn't influential or powerful in the sense that his friends the Clintons were.  Barack Obama was a not-rich nobody who rose to a place of such power and arrogance that he felt able to insult and humiliate The Donald publicly; it's been said that's when he decided to run for president himself.

The Trump administration hired many members of the educated elite who had been shut out of previous administrations because the Ivy-based establishment didn't have enough vacancies. This is where the rubber met the road:

Elite overproduction creates counter-elites, and counter-elites look for allies among the commoners [a.k.a. deplorable Trump voters - ed]. If commoners' living standards slip ... they accept the overtures of the counter-elites and start oiling the axles of their tumbrels. The final trigger of impending collapse, Turchin says, tends to be state insolvency. At some point rising insecurity becomes expensive. The elites have to pacify unhappy citizens with handouts and freebies and when these run out, they have to police dissent [cancel culture, deplatforming, shadow banning, etc. -ed] and oppress people. Eventually the state exhausts all short-term solutions, and what was heretofore a coherent civilization disintegrates[emphasis added]

Or, as Louis XV might have said, "The peasants are revolting, aren't they..."

Devolution of Power

Our Constitution was written in the mid to late 1700s.  The British East India Company had been chartered in 1600, nearly two centuries previously, and was deeply familiar to our Founders, some of whom had personally helped unload their ships.

Although the British came late to the Asia trade vs. the Iberian nations, they prospered mightily.  One of their advantages was that educated second and third sons of British nobles, who had no hope of inheriting the family castle, sought fortune and power overseas.  In contrast, French younger sons stayed in France, while the desire of so many nobles to live large increased taxation and government spending to the point of triggering the French Revolution.

It's possible that part of the reason our Founders set up our federal system was they realized that they had to create as many real power centers as possible.  Why didn't The Donald run for Mayor of New York City?  Because state bureaucracies have taken so much power from the mayor that there isn't enough city power to satisfy him.

Why not Governor of New York?  Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for governor of New York in 1928 and served until elected President in 1932; Teddy Roosevelt marched a similar path.  But in the century since then, federal bureaucrats have usurped so much state power that being a mere state governor still wasn't enough for a billionaire of Trump's mettle.

Government functionaries multiply government power to take care of their children, not just to get more money for themselves.  The problem is that government agencies are far better at stopping progress than at accomplishing anything.  We've written of a project to add one lane to a Colorado highway which spent 13 years in planning before the first shovel of dirt turned.  This gave a host of powerful alphabet soup agencies chances to come up with objections and delays at great cost, but not one of these extremely expensive feather merchants added any value whatsoever.

The Rebellion Begins

The solution is to return to our Founders' original intent of having meaningful power positions in state and local government, so that ambitious people can get jobs where they have the authority needed to accomplish something as opposed to becoming a cancer on the taxpayers by getting in the way.

That means whacking back both federal and some state government agencies so that power flows back to elected officials and to the people.

Our liberties are very much at risk, but Joe Biden is not Joe Stalin and Kamala Harris is not Hitler.  They have neither the power nor the brains to be effective as dictators, nor, likely, will their immediate successors.  We may be at the eleventh hour for America, but the clock has not yet struck midnight.

Thus far in this series, we've examined the limits on the evil powers of a tyrannical woke Federal government, and a multitude of ways in which Americans large and small can obstruct, resist, and defeat them.  Yet, in the long run, the only thing that can truly defeat an evil government is another government.  That is why our Founders, in their wisdom, created so many different governments, at all different levels, with complex and overlapping powers.

The enemies of historical America may now control most of the levers of Federal power and a fair number of states.  But there are plenty other states where they don't, and thanks to our Federal system, there is real power there, and we need to grab back as much power from the feds as we can.  We just need to grasp the opportunity.


From the very moment the Constitution was signed, there's been an ongoing debate between the states and Federal government over exactly how much power the Feds have to push the states around.  On some issues, it's crystal clear: the President is the Commander in Chief of the Army, 'nuff said.  On others, though, the Constitution is silent, except to say that on topics where it is silent, the states are in charge:

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.

Far from being a firm bright line, it's ebbed and flowed over the years.  The Old South felt that the Constitution gave the Federal government no power to regulate or limit slavery.  In the long run, they proved their point, because slavery was ultimately banned by Constitutional amendment.

Those who believed in banning alcohol changed the Constitution to do so; those who want to ban drugs weren't nearly so orderly.

In the mid-twentieth-century, there seemed to be no limits on Federal power whatsoever: in the notorious Wickard v. Filburn decision, the Supreme Court notoriously gave the Feds the power to ban a farmer from raising his own wheat to feed his own animals on his own farm - because if he didn't grow that wheat, he'd have to buy it, and it might have been imported across state lines. Ergo, interstate commerce!

More recently, the Court has moved back somewhat from this extreme position that made the Tenth Amendment effectively null and void: beginning in 1995 with United States v. Lopez, it has ruled on an increasing number of subjects that the Feds have no business meddling with.  There are many opportunities to extend this trend given our more originalist Supreme Court bequeathed to us by The Donald.

In a perverse way, the tactics of the Left have been very helpful in this effort.  If there's one thing that the Constitution is plain should be the purview of the Federal government, it's foreign affairs.  Yet, just about every Democrat-run jurisdiction ostentatiously has declared itself a "sanctuary" for illegal aliens - that is, foreign invaders who have infiltrated our country contrary to our laws in place.  Obviously the Left doesn't believe that the Feds have power to enforce laws they don't like in blue states that don't want them.

Does the same apply to red states?  There'll never be a better time to find out - we aren't likely to ever get more conservative Supreme Court Justices than we have right now.

  • Gun rights and gun confiscation.  This is becoming far less likely since the Democrats don't hold the Senate, but no need to wait - Republican states can and should pass laws declaring the Second Amendment to be the supreme law of the land, and any Federal laws infringing upon it to be automatically null and void in their territory.
  • Elections.  Elections have long been a matter for state regulation, but for no good reason, the states have submitted to Federal orders to, among other things, provide ballots in multiple non-American languages and to permit voter registration in all manner of fraud-encouraging ways.  No need for that any more - nullify, and let them sue.  If rumors of Democrats cheating on a vast scale are anywhere close to true, Republicans who don't do this will become as extinct all across the fruited plain as they are in California.
  • Electoral districts.  In a very interesting ruling in 2016, the Supreme Court held that, while it was constitutional for states to include illegal aliens when redistricting, they were not required to, and, indeed, the Justices pointed out that states in the past have indeed restricted electoral allocation that way.  So, don't: draw districts according to the legal population, which means any Democrat-run illegal-infested cities in your otherwise red state will suddenly become a lot less politically powerful.  Are you listening, Texas?
  • Liberal states have already declared federal drug laws to be null and void by legalizing marijuana and stronger drugs.  Why not legalize making Freon so we can have low-cost air conditioning?  Again, Texas is surely big enough to be a worthwhile market all by itself, no interstate commerce required.
  • Declare abortion to be illegal and Federal regulation thereof to be null and void.  Several of the more conservative states have been edging toward this position for years; may as well get it done now, and give the Left something else to froth about.
  • Adjust criminal law to discourage violent riots and looting.  Florida in particular is working on a law that expands the "castle doctrine" to encompass defending your place of business, or indeed any property within a certain distance of a declared riot.  Put another way, itwould amount to a legal declaration of open-season on violent rioter and looters without having to wait for the National Guard.  We don't really hope for open gunfights on the streets of our cities - but they'd be an improvement over months of destruction, and would also have the salutary effect of thinning the herd of live Democrat voters (while admittedly creating more dead ones, but that's a different problem).

Now, it's possible that not all these efforts will be upheld or prove practical.  Does that make them not worth trying?  Not all the Left's efforts win at court either, but they keep at it, and they've gotten enough wins over the years that they now have the capability to steal elections wholesale.  The least we can do is push back where possible.

Besides, if you set the bar high enough, you can see it pushed back down and still be better off than you were.  Suppose the Biden Administration somehow manages to get a law passed that forbids requiring photo ID in Federal elections.  Fine: create two ballots, one with all the offices, and one with just the Federal ones.  Voters with ID get the long ballot, and those without just the short one.  Wouldn't it be interesting to have actual proof of which way the unidentified really vote?

We are beginning to see what, we hope, are the first glimmering signs of this, as governors flat-out tell Pretender-President Biden where he can stick his ideas of a national covid shutdown.  For too long, governors have meekly done what they're told by the feds; this needs to end if we're going to have any liberty left anywhere at all.

Triggering Over-reactions

If the Left has a besetting weakness, it's that they don't know when to stop.  Most of the time this doesn't seem to much matter - your humble correspondent has watched aghast as Americans simply grew so used to being molested by the TSA that it isn't even worth writing about anymore.

Similarly, that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs is giving warning that the insanity of pointless mask mandates is traveling the same road.  Hopefully, that's simply because we happen to reside in a deep-blue area, as we read in optimistic reports from elsewhere:

[Florida Governor Ron DeSantis] said the state will not impose the stringent lockdowns that Florida saw earlier this year.

"We will never do any of these lockdowns again, and I hear people say they'll shut down the country, and honestly I cringe," DeSantis said.

The governor was possibly referring to a statement Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden made this month during an interview with ABC News in which Biden said he would shut down the country if scientists recommended.

Well, when our Pretender-President becomes our Usurper-President and fulfills his threat of imposing a total shutdown, Gov. DeSantis is going to have a hard choice to make.  Does he listen to the science, his voters, and the Constitution, and tell Sleepy Joe to take a hike?  Or does he bow the knee to the lies, forfeit the opportunity to increase his own power, and impoverish his own people?

The plain fact is, there is nowhere in the Constitution that gives Congress the power to enforce dress codes or to imprison people anywhere without the action of law.  The Presidential pen, by itself?  Fuggedaboutit, with emphasis on the first two letters.

By a strong, timely use of base vernacular, Gov. DeSantis might just save the rest of us from a very personal tyranny.  But if, somehow, Joe Biden decides to defy reality and declare such a mandate?  Arguably even better: the whole country can see first one state, then more, openly refuse.

Then what?  It gets better: would the administration try to embargo an entire state for non-compliance?  How would that go down?  What would other states do?  Would Georgia put state troopers on the border with Florida, or allow the feds to blockade?  Likely, the opposite: Georgia's governor is no fan even of mask mandates, to say nothing of shutdowns.

In fact, it's not entirely inconceivable that much of the old Confederacy might be forcibly rebuilt by Joe Biden, as Florida rejects shutdown mandates, blue New England and California enforce them harshly, and everybody else picks a side.

At the end of an even more bizarre 2021 than 2020 has been (?!), we might find ourselves in a markedly better situation, with Hidin' Biden's bullies revealed as ineffective laughingstocks in any state that cares to say them nay.  Even setting aside any question of Joe Biden's legitimacy, this would be a supremely healthy restoration of the virtues of federalism.  Let California lock themselves into the poorhouse - we don't have to follow their lead.

This wouldn't work if Joe Biden were Napoleon, Caesar, or even Khrushchev.  Fortunately, he's not.

We couldn't ask for a better opponent if it truly comes to a test of will - the only will Sleepy Joe has is the one Jill wrote for him to sign.  The question is, does our side have any will remaining?  Or was Donald Trump the last true American determined to doggedly stand on his own two feet and flip the bird to our betters with both hands?

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

At the risk of sounding condescending, please do stick with your mission. It's gotta be a bit lonesome and frustrating, at 3:00 am; pushing those keys around; trying to distill those many-layered thoughts for your most appreciative readers.
I suspect that they number far more than you might believe, and, if they're like me, they share your pieces widely.
Keep the faith and share the wisdom...please...and thank you.

November 23, 2020 10:30 AM

Thanks for the encouraging words! We have one hard piece of evidence: there are many millions more Trump voters than anyone believed possible, and I doubt very much that any of them were dead or photocopied. That has to count for something.

We do need to work harder on coming up with *optimistic* articles though. As Saul Alinsky said, "A good tactic is one your people enjoy."

November 23, 2020 10:47 AM

Maybe it is time to start a movement in each state to secede. I can see it now: secedeAZ or secedeAK. It won't go anywhere, but it might be a bargaining chip.

November 23, 2020 11:10 AM

That might be an effective way of putting some back-pressure on the Overton Window, for sure!

November 23, 2020 11:15 AM

I think we will see a large increase in conservative migration to red states than is already occurring. And I’m not talking about wealthy Wall Streeters escaping from NJ & NY.
Speaking for myself, I live in NJ directly across the river from Philadelphia and am getting out in Spring 2022 and moving south to Eastern Tennessee. That’s the plan. No state income tax, TN doesn’t tax per sign or 401k and property taxes will be about $1000/ year compared to $7700/ year here I NJ.
And the majority of TN are Church going Christians with many gun owning patriots. My kind of people.
I don’t know who’s going to pay all these NJ taxes as people like me leave NJ.
I’m wondering how this will affect these blue state fiefdoms when they start running out of other peoples money to spend.

November 23, 2020 5:48 PM

Imagine a new Federal law that says that whichever state you reside in as of 1/1/22, you must remain there forever, or face prosecution.
The numbers rejecting their childish ideologies, in favor of reality, would be absolutely stunning. Buy stock in moving companies.....

November 23, 2020 6:05 PM

Reply to Fred.....
Sadly, I can imagine dem governors trying to restrict or ban people from leaving the state permanently. That’s the reality of the evil we are dealing with. It’s not like the dem government here in NJ and NY will be taken by surprise when the tax revenues fall short due to spending, lockdowns and affected by people leaving. The NJ gov went around the citizens to get the dem legislature to approve $4 billion or some huge number borrowing power without asking taxpayers. Talk about dictators. I get $0.00 for my $7700 / year property taxes. I live in a condo, not a house. Property taxes here are a slush fund for the Dems to buy teacher union and state employee votes and pay for their overly generous benefits that no one else gets. Same with US senators and reps.... they get a pension, great health benefits , etc....
the unfairness, greed and condescension will eventually come home to roost.
I’ll be watching from my porch in Tennessee with my 870.

November 24, 2020 7:43 AM

Here's something we should do. Establish a central registry where gun owners could sign a declaration that they would in no circumstances give up their guns if ordered to by the government.

The purpose of this would be to get gun owners to go public with their intent to defy the state. It would be a good first step in getting gun owners to take concrete action to defend their rights.

November 24, 2020 10:17 AM

I think that it's time for a soft seccession. How would that look like? Here are a few of my ideas, please join in and improve on mine with reasons for your opinions. Thanks, Bassboat

1. We remain intact as a military. All states would ante up their share of the military budget as per GDP of said state.
2. The Supreme Court would only have authority over miitary and political questions as in seeing that elections are following the rules.
3. The IRS would only serve those states that requested their help in the collection of taxes.
4. Open borders allowing for free passage between states.
5. Schools would be run by the states.
6. The currency would be a two fold currency. If say California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah decided to form their own currency it would be valued vs the dollar. This would allow for a currency to float, rise or fall based on its ability to run a sound government. No one area could be loose with their currency and not be hurt economically. This would rein in promises that cannot be kept.
7. No federal law would be imposed on any state as that state is an entity unto itself.

I am sure that there are improvements to my ideas so feel free to add yours. Let's keep it on a higher plane and keep to ideas, no personal attacks. Everyone has the right to be heard.


November 24, 2020 1:19 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...