Tag Archive for ‘federalism’
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in favor of white firemen who claim to be victims of discrimination gives us an opportunity to attempt a little political casuistry, even before we have finished outlining a set of essential principles. It is not the details of the case that matter—what do I care about what happens in New Haven—but the rationale for making moral and political decisions.
Morality and politics are a reflection of and extension of our nature which is not infinitely perfectible or subject to reinvention. This is not to say that social, cultural, and technical improvements are not valuable, only that they do not override the basic facts of life.
“All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States . . . ” Thus run the first words of Article I, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution, clearly laying out the Framers’ understanding of the nature and the role of Congress.
Adams was an agrarian federalist. He loved real property, local government, and family life, and thought there was a considerable amount of virtue in Americans, in general, and New Englanders, in particular. He was suspicious of plutocracy in all its forms and in all its locations—banks, the military, government. He had no more use for “state sovereignty” than he did for its nemesis, nationalism.
I entirely agree with the spirit of this roundtable but not with the language of restoring “the Republic.” The United States is not now and has never been a republic. It is a federation of states, each of which, in Article IV of the Constitution, is guaranteed a republican form of government. But a federation of republics is not itself a republic any more than the federation of nations in the United Nations, or in the European Union, is a nation. A federation is a service agency of the political units that compose it.