As a result of organized Democrat opposition in key state legislatures, the state sovereignty movement is probably not going to be able to sweep the nation or even produce passed sovereignty resolutions in a majority of the states. Yet there have been some important achievements which may be enough to be called a limited victory, though that may never be acknowledged by the media and the current administration who are doing their best to ignore these efforts of protest.
In one of the biggest developments for the state sovereignty effort, on Thursday Governor Rick Perry of Texas came out with a wholehearted endorsement of not only Texas House Representative Brandon Creighton’s state sovereignty resolution (HCR 50), but in support of all of the states whose legislatures are seeking to assert their rights to self-governance under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.
I’ve never been a big fan of Rick Perry, though I’ve always admired his lovely hair. He’s too much in the pocket of the religious right and has too often been wrong on key issues vital to the future of Texas like the legalization of gambling. Yet on this issue Perry has consistently taken the lead, championing the autonomy of state governments, by rejecting federal stimulus money for unemployment and the strings which came with it, and now by supporting legislative efforts to assert 10th Amendment rights.
The bold stand which Perry and a few other governors like Alaska’s Sarah Palin, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and South Carolina’s Mark Sanford have taken against federal intrusion into the rights of state governments and the citizens of those states and the efforts of more than 30 state legislatures which have tried to pass — with mixed success — resolutions asserting state sovereignty under the 10th Amendment have offered a small ray of hope for better government at a time when the administration in Washington seems to be running completely out of control.
As the federal government spends us into generations of inconceivable debt, responsible state governments are trying to insulate themselves, protect their citizens and govern with fiscal common sense. Perry summed up what has become the common concern of people across the nation when he said:
“I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state. That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states’ rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union.”
Meanwhile state sovereignty resolutions have been moving forward in the state legislatures. In Oklahoma, Alaska, South Dakota, Indiana and most recently this week in Idaho and North Dakota, sovereignty bills have passed in both houses. But New Mexico, Arkansas and New Hampshire sovereignty bills were either killed in committee or voted down along partisan lines, and that’s likely to happen in many more states in the next couple of months. In other states bills just seem not to be moving forward and may not go anywhere because of Democrat opposition.
Even if the state sovereignty movement has not yet achieved enough success to exactly be called a revolution, with six state legislatures and a number of prominent governors committed to sending a message to Washington, it is bound to have some impact. The influence has already been felt among Republican Senators and Representatives who have started to realize that keeping their jobs means not waffling on fiscal issues. What remains to be seen is what governors with an eye on the presidency in 2012 like Sanford and Perry are banking on — whether this movement will translate into votes in the 2010 Congressional elections, building towards an even bigger shakeup in 2012.
Perhaps even more importantly, it shows that at least on the state level legislators and governors have woken up to the fact that the people are fed up with the excesses of the federal government and the mess they have created and are screaming for real grassroots change. Not just a change of faces in the White House, but fundamental changes in national policy and a transfer of power away from bureaucrats and politicians and back to the people. We’re tired of seeing our rights, our money and our futures squandered and want to be back in control, through the ballot, through protests and through using the power of state governments under the Constitution to hold the federal government accountable and bring an end to its abuses of power.