To Hell With Unity

The recent betrayal by Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is a reminder that the ruling class in Washington, D.C. values nothing so highly as being the ruling class in Washington, D.C. Offer them a choice between maintaining a “good working relationship with their colleagues across the aisle” on the one hand, and democracy on the other, and they’ll stick with their colleagues: Their daily lives change little no matter who is in power. 

Their priority is that they be able to chat amicably at parties with people who just called them liars on cable TV. It’s just politics, after all. It’s just a game. They don’t feel the effects of their policies because they live in the one city in America that gets wealthier when the economy gets worse.

But ordinary people will feel the effects. Joe Biden has already rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement. He has rejoined the World Health Organization. He has suspended federal oil and gas permitting and canceled the Keystone XL pipeline. He has stopped work on the border wall, suspended deportations for 100 days, and announced his intention of a path to legalization (i.e., a path to ballooning the Democratic Party’s voter rolls) for millions of illegals in the country. He signed a mandate requiring masks on federal land. He signed a bizarre executive order forcing schools to accept biological men on women’s sports teams. He reversed Trump’s ban on Chinese involvement in the U.S. power grid. And he also reversed Trump’s order mandating lower prices for insulin and epinephrine pens. Biden will also be raising your taxes—but that takes time. Everything above is just executive action. 

Imagine how great it will be once the Democratic House and Senate start pumping out unopposed legislation. But, you know, Mitch and Lindsey will still be okay hanging out with the Democrats after work because they were able to close ranks over the issue of people being angry at them about the election. Unity is wonderful. 

Do Not Be Deceived

They are hoping now you will all pack up and go home. Our fearless leaders had some sample encounters with the people—Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the streets of New York, Senators Graham and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) at airports, and all of them at the Capitol—and decided they didn’t like it. Now they’ve got the National Guard to keep you safely at arms’ length so they can continue representing you. They know you’re only angry because you’ve been “fed lies.” And they want you to pull together for the good of the country.

This is the traditional trick that dupes conservatives: “Come together for the good of the country.” It doesn’t work on the leftists—leftists, for all their faults, are single-minded and uncompromising in pursuit of their goals. Trump got elected and unity could go to hell for four years while they literally let cities burn. Washington, D.C. has become so thoroughly corrupt, bloated, and anti-democratic precisely because the Democrats never compromise at all, while the GOP has always been willing to compromise to stay in power or close to it.

Each of Biden’s executive orders benefits a particular special-interest group at the expense of America as a whole. Biden then calls for unity—and the GOP backs him up, because they think that with Trump gone, it’s back to business as usual.

It’s time for conservatives to declare that unity can go to hell. It is not good for the country to let an unelected president take over. It is not good for the country to ignore the fact that your vote did not count. It is not good for the country to pretend that the Left will respect your rights as Americans if you just let them have their way with the law. Freedom is more important than comfort, more important than unity, more important than peace, more important than life itself. 

People have died for the right to vote that we are in the process of tossing away.

Nullification Revisited

But I won’t say “No justice, no peace!” because the FBI would come to my house. I will instead take a page from the Founding Fathers and suggest the following: “No taxation without representation.” The American people should not pay taxes to a federal government that does not represent them.

Obviously, there’s no point in refusing to pay taxes on an individual basis, because the IRS would come to your house and likely bring the FBI with them. But suppose instead that the governor of a state like Texas or Florida were to say: Citizens of this state should not pay federal taxes this year, and our state will indemnify its citizens against federal prosecution. In other words, the state would assume the federal tax bill for its own citizens, and declare it null and void.

For the first nearly 90 years of the United States, from the Founding to the Civil War, individual states regularly asserted the right of nullification. This widely misunderstood principle did not allow states to violate the Constitution—exactly the opposite: It protected states from the federal government violating the Constitution, by allowing states to invalidate unconstitutional federal laws. In other words, the question of what was constitutional and what wasn’t was decided by the states, not the Supreme Court.

The Civil War did huge damage to states’ rights, which became bound up in the question of slavery and secession. A direct consequence was to elevate the power of the federal government—and the Supreme Court—to previously unimagined heights.

You might argue that there is no basis for allowing states to decide what is constitutional. But there is less basis for allowing the Supreme Court to decide: Judicial review was invented out of whole cloth by the Supreme Court itself. Nullification cases always end up in federal court, where they lose—and why wouldn’t they? To ask the Supreme Court to decide on nullification would be like asking Joe Biden whether he should be president.

Changing the Dynamic

But one issue—perhaps the one and only issue—on which the Left and the Right agree is that the Supreme Court has too much power. The Constitution did not intend a system in which one branch can outmuscle the other two. Nullification is a serious alternative that spreads the court’s bonus powers over more people in more places and shrinks the Supreme Court to what it was originally intended to be: The court of final appeal.

The Supreme Court has used its assumed right of judicial review to increase its own power, and to increase the power of the federal government generally. The Constitution explicitly grants “all legislative powers” to Congress, but somehow the Supreme Court managed to discern in 1928 the “implied power” of Congress to delegate its lawmaking authority to unelected bodies. This helpful ruling came just in time for FDR’s massive expansion of executive government and the creation of new regulatory agencies that publish decrees with the force of law. Nullification would allow states to dispute such dicta.

Which isn’t to say that state government is more trustworthy than federal, rather that government at all levels is equally untrustworthy, equally fallible, and that the system of “checks and balances” applies not just between branches of government, but between different levels of government. The Constitution, and not the federal government, is the supreme authority.

A state deciding to reject its citizens’ federal tax bill this year would not constitute a traditional nullification, but it would stand on the most basic principle of American democracy: A government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. The current federal regime has no such consent. 

And despite the claims that “60 judges have found no evidence of voter fraud,” a closer examination will show nothing but 60 summary dismissals and summary affirmations. No election fraud cases have been argued in court, and the American voter has so far been denied justice. States could demand justice on behalf of their citizens by helping withhold the cash that runs the federal gravy train. They might also give the people a deserved tax break after a year of appalling government overreach. 

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