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As a former conservative and full-blown libertarian, I'll admit that I'm not the most doctrinaire liberal.  I like to think of myself as "the thinking man's liberal", to some extent.  I don't just parrot talking points, although that seems to get me a lot of flack and vitriol from those on the Left who appear to be more robotic in their mentality rather than honest debate and dialogue.  One of the things that has stuck with me over the years is a respect for a healthy dose of states' rights, localism and decentralization with regards to policymaking.  

Now, whenever someone mentions "states' rights", esp. if it's coming from a conservative, a lot of liberals (if not most) seem to have alarm bells going off in their head, thinking something along the lines of, "Racist! He wants to bring back discrimination and segregation."  Of course, we know that's nonsense, what with all the recent LIBERAL victories we've gotten thanks to states rights, most notably in the fields of gay rights and anti-prohibition efforts.  While Prop 19 did not win, it did get an astonishing 46.5% of Californian voters to support it, less than five points from winning.  

Liberals need to stop associating anti-black discrimination with states' rights so much.  It's hurting us.  Yes, it was used in the past to keep minorities down, but it was also used by abolitionists somewhat.  Besides, not every right-winger who endorses states rights is a fucking KKK member.  And it makes us look like huge hypocrites when we bitch about conservatives using it but use it ourselves because the feds won't give us the policies we need at the present time!  Please, liberals, let's be a little friendlier to the concept.  After all, were not many of the Founders avid supporters of states' rights and anti-federalism?

Obviously, there is a place for the federal government, and I'm no minimalist when it comes to government size and scope.  However, I do realize that maybe states' rights is not the boogeyman after all.  Are we not a federalist nation?  Yet it seems like many liberals treat American government as if it were set up under some sort of weird unitary system like what, for example, the French have.  Funny how many liberals championed the Vermont legislature's passage of single-payer (an endorsement of states' rights, whether or not they admit it) but bitch about other states wanting to either opt out or go their own more 'market-friendly' routes in opposition to so-called "Obamacare."

With a healthy dose of states' rights, states can experiment and figure out what works and what doesn't.  States that fail will move on and learn from others, and states that succeed can serve as models for those that failed.  It's win-win!  50 states, 50 possible styles (or more).  I'm also a little dismayed that we don't seem to really care what goes on in our local towns and cities with regards to politics and issues, and it's not much better at the state level.  Probably only a small portion of those who even pay attention to federal politics in this country pay attention to state (I myself have not been the best at this one, either, I'll admit :/).

Let's not be the enemy of states' rights but use it to our advantage and acknowledge that it's a crucial part of our system and the Constitution.  Plus, it is ok to use the actual term when advocating it for causes like medical marijuana and gay marriage.  It's neither a left-wing nor right-wing concept.  It has its time and place.

Originally posted to Whoo69 on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 12:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by oo.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Federalism and the Drug War (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SpamNunn, Cedwyn, esquimaux

    Certainly, emphasizing the importance of State's Rights right now is the most potent weapon in the arsenal in the war on the War on Drugs.  Thanks for bringing up this topic in such a thoughtful way.

    For someone my age, the term "State's Rights" evokes a visceral, negative reaction before I even have a chance to think about it, probably because it was used as a cipher for so long to indicate "the right of local governments to adversely discriminate against non white people."  How about the term "Federalism" as in indicator of the desire to preserve local political authority within the limits of the Constitution, and in the interest of the common good within the organic, local communities of which we are all a part?

    "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding?" Nick Lowe

    by LHB on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 02:39:14 AM PDT

  •  Liberals need to do this, liberal need to do that (9+ / 0-)

    You lost me a libertarian.  I knew the diary would come off like it was written by a pushy, know it all blow hard.

    Whether you are or not, I don't know.  But it did.

    Honk! If you're writing in Alan Grayson!

    by Detroit Mark on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 03:04:38 AM PDT

  •  "You people........." (13+ / 0-)

    That's what I took away from this.

    21st Century Republicans would much rather legalize murder than marijuana.
    DK4 Cannabis Reform Group Writing Guidelines

    by xxdr zombiexx on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 03:26:06 AM PDT

  •  Is the "full-blown libertarian" former or present? (4+ / 0-)

    The structure of that first sentence is a little ambiguous.

    It's better to curse the darkness than light a candle. --Whoever invented blogs, c.1996

    by Rich in PA on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 03:44:40 AM PDT

  •  Yah, but which issues are state issues? (5+ / 0-)

    It seems pretty clear in practice that people only push the concept of states' rights on issues that they have lost on the national level, and push for national conformity on issues they have won.  There's not much consistent adherence to federalism.  It's like libertarianism in that way.

    If you want a link, I'll look for a link. If you really want it. Just ask.

    by Inland on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 03:53:47 AM PDT

  •  No reason to push for state's rights (12+ / 0-)

    it is just white washing the term for slavery.  Also, unpopular ideas around the country have a way of becoming law here in our red state, things such as: creationism taught in schools, gays can't adopt children, must have a photo i.d. to vote (even though the AG already told the legislature it was a poll tax and illegal- they passed it anyway).

    Mr. Libertarian whoo 69, you are too condescending to be at DK4.  You need to be on talk radio with other blowhards.

    •  That's what Federalism was meant to protect, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn, Sandy on Signal


      It also means that your state can mandate pre-k, legalize medical marijuana and gay marriage, have tougher environmental laws, safer building codes, etc.   And it allows you freedom of association by voting with your feet and moving to a state where you do not have to be tyrannized by a Red or a Blue majority.

      It had a lot to do with slavery at one time, my friend, but it has very little to do with slavery now.  There's a lot of reasons to like the tenth amendment.   Those are just a few of them.

      I have little in common with this diarist, but he "found an acorn" on this subject, at least for me.

      If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

      by SpamNunn on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 04:56:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your mistake (5+ / 0-)

    is in thinking that liberals love states' rights.  For conservatives (and possibly libertarians), states' rights is a goal in of itself.  They don't wish to be part of a large mult-cultural society with a wide variety of people in it.  They wish to be part of a much smaller society where everyone is just like them, and where they have a great deal more control over how things are run.  In many of the places that are largely conservative, we HAVE gotten a whiff of what they'd do there if they could.  We have heard the politicians call for rolling back civil rights, the rights of workers to organize, women's health rights, and other rights that should be guaranteed by the federal government. Conservatives love the idea of state's rights in a general way, in that they have more leeway to control the things they want to control  Their actions at the state level are usually used to take away rights that should be granted to everyone.

    For liberals, action at the state level is usually more to GIVE something to the people that the federal government won't give, and it usually happens only after a long attempt to enact it at the federal level.  Liberals have no general wish for states' rights, rather they have singular wishes to advance one issue and can find no other way to do it.  It's not a philosophical goal for them.

    •  but without states rights (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cville townie, liberte
      Liberals have no general wish for states' rights, rather they have singular wishes to advance one issue and can find no other way to do it.  It's not a philosophical goal for them.

      they wouldn't be able to do that.  no states rights = no "other way to do it"

      so, yes; liberals rather do support and desire states' rights.  if not for states' rights, oregon would have no death with dignity law.  there would be zero tolerance for weed everywhere.  DOMA would be in effect nationally and we'd have no gay marriage.


      It's complicated. - Desperate Housewives

      by Cedwyn on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 05:53:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess I consider States' rights (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, liberte

        to be something that we largely DON'T have now..or at least I consider that we have a balance.  The liberals are working within the existing framework, the conservatives want to push states' rights far more than what exists today.

        As a liberal, I would not want states' rights to include the taking away of rights that should be granted to all.

        I also think that most liberals think that human rights should exist at the federal level, including all the things the bill of rights guarantees.   Liberals want to ensure that the minority cannot be beaten up by the majority, and that has to happen federally.

        It's an interesting discussion for sure, akin to people "liking" a president who acts unilaterally when their party is in office, and disliking it when the other party has the white house.  I try to make sure that, unlike conservatives who are famous for that, I try to make principled decisions.  Some liberals do that..some don't think it's pragmatic.

  •  States powers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, liberte

    Using the term state's rights carries a lot of baggage. I would suggest that a more useful term would be state powers.

    The federal constitution confers some powers on the states, such as the right to regulate liquor conferred by the repeal of federal prohibition amendment.Other powers can only be exercised by the states to the extent that the federal government does not pass its own laws (some aspects of federal election law).

    Other powers are prohibited to the states (no right to confer titles of nobility).

    In the US system the states have the residual legal competence, so they can legislate on any subject not governed by the federal constitution (subject to any restrictions imposed by the state constitution).

    Naturally there will be disputes about the precise competences of the federal and state governments. That is why the federal and state judges have to sort out any questions of relative powers that arise.

    The states have certain powers. Some, like those relating to the role of the state's in federal elections are derived from the federal  federal

    There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

    by Gary J on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 04:35:54 AM PDT

  •  Really? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jmknapp, Pandoras Box, esquimaux, liberte

    The Right is not racist and doesn't want their states to become meccas of white dominanace?  Grow up and smell the bile.  Friday evening I bowled with neighbors.  Fun people.  Somehow the subject of race came up and one took a vote on who was racist or not.  After two yes votes they looked at me.  I wanted to scream but I played the game.  I said "not me"  I am not impressed by one's race.  The most obnoxious one got right up in my face and asked if I woud date a black man.  I said yes and I said I had done that.  My first boyfriend was a wonderful guy who went on to accomplish great things.  I would have done well to stay with him.  He was shocked and could not speak.  He ran over to his girlfriend to gossip.  I hope he never speaks to me again.  I am disgusted with these people but there is no way to stop interacting as one of them lives next door.  
         At Sunday morning breakfast with relatives one bent my ear the whole time about how blacks have TONS of babies for free on welfare.  Her own sister had two children while on welfare and her parents are now raising said kids with state help while the mom is on every kind of aid imaginable.  Her sister deserves it while the "blacks" don't.  It was a great racist weekend with all my "libertarian" friends.

    And she's good at appearing sane, I just want you to know. Winwood/Capaldi

    by tobendaro on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 04:43:57 AM PDT

  •  sorry but this (5+ / 0-)
    As a former conservative and full-blown libertarian

    is a contradiction. libertarians make conservatives look like liberals

  •  Sure (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    With a healthy dose of states' rights, states can experiment and figure out what works and what doesn't.  States that fail will move on and learn from others, and states that succeed can serve as models for those that failed.  It's win-win!

    Unless you live in a conservative governed state (which is most of them), and then you can fuck off. Arizona can experiment with massive debt, horrible education and healthcare, but as long as people and Vermont and New York get theirs, it all evens out!

    Proud supporter of nuclear power!

    by zegota on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 05:22:56 AM PDT

  •  Human and civil rights need to be fought for... (5+ / 0-)

    ...and protected at every level, and this includes the state level, even against the federal government.

    I wouldn't use the term "state's rights", however. That's codeword for racism.

    But neither would I allow the term to be use as a weapon against those who struggle for human rights at the state level, as it sometimes is used.

    When the feds reach out and touch a community, it can have a devistating impact on that community and those surrounding it.

    I've seen the impact of federal actions on local communities here in Iowa.

    I've seen the impact on Marshaltown, and I share the sentiments of this Marshaltown Businessman.

    I've seen aprehension, fear, and terror in communities all around Iowa when the Department of Homeland Security invades my state and sets up camp in the National Cattle Congress fairgrounds.

    When my state is invaded by the feds, we know that they aren't here to round up cattle.

    They are here to round up Iowans, and to treat them like cattle.

    Postville suffered an ethnic cleansing by the feds, reducing the total population of the city by 50% in a single year.

    Abused: The Postville Raid (10 Min Trailer) from Luis Argueta on Vimeo.

    De facto Deportees from Luis Argueta on Vimeo.

    violent revolution is an oxymoron...violence is the status quo...nonviolence is the revolution

    by ehrenfeucht games on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 05:24:08 AM PDT

  •  People Vs. Platitudes? (7+ / 0-)
    Funny how many liberals championed the Vermont legislature's passage of single-payer (an endorsement of states' rights, whether or not they admit it) but bitch about other states wanting to either opt out or go their own more 'market-friendly' routes in opposition to so-called "Obamacare."

    It's only funny if you pretend everybody has the same values systems as you.  The reason many liberals championed Vermont's passage of a single payer system is because it gets everybody healthcare.... not because they are champions of states rights.  And the reason many liberals oppose 'market friendly' routes is that that's code for doing nothing and/or making the situation worse.

    Those two positions are only hypocritical to someone who suggests states shouldn't have any rights, which nobody deos.... or if liberals actually celebrated VT as a States Rights victory, which of course none of us did.

    The reason many of us on the left have disdain for "States Rights" the expression is that it's frequently deployed when it doesn't mean anything.

    Case in point: Department of Education wants schools to include anti-bullying policies at schools to include information about gay and lesbian students.  OBVIOUSLY there's no SANE reason on earth to oppose this, and you can't just SAY you hate gay and lesbian students and want them to be bullied.  So you say, "The Department of Education has no respect for states rights."

    The "boogeyman" isn't the phrase itself (which I repeat is essentially meaningless whenever anyone actually uses it) but the dumbshits who trot it out because it sounds better than, "Nah, let's keep doing evil.  I'm OK with evil."

  •  Your opening words refute themselves (9+ / 0-)

    A thinking person does not walk into a room full of liberals and proclaim himself to be the "thinking man's liberal". Sexism aside, there's no better way to lose your audience than to tell them you're smarter than they are. By doing so, you become no thinking person's anything.

    Come back after you've acquired a bit of humility and a willingness to listen to people with other opinions. I also suggest you try reading a year or two's worth of posts by our own Meteor Blades. He's well to the left of many here (myself included), but only a fool would think him a fool.

    Let us all have the strength to see our enemies as human beings, and the courage to let them see us in the same light.

    by Nowhere Man on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 05:48:26 AM PDT

  •  States Don't Have Rights. They Have Powers nt (4+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 05:50:43 AM PDT

  •  (facepalm) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, liberte

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 05:51:26 AM PDT

  •  You are complete and utter FAIL. (4+ / 0-)

    In the 1948 election, after Harry Truman had desegregated the Army, a group of Southern Democrats known as Dixiecrats split from the Democratic Party in reaction to the inclusion of a civil rights plank in the party's platform. This followed a floor fight led by Minneapolis mayor (and soon-to-be senator) Hubert Humphrey. The disaffected Democrats formed the States' Rights Democratic, or Dixiecrat Party, and nominated Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina for president. Thurmond carried four southern states in the general election; Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The main plank of the States' Rights Democratic Party was maintaining segregation and Jim Crow in the South. The Dixiecrats, failing to deny the Democrats the presidency in 1948, soon dissolved, but the split lingered. In 1964, Thurmond was one of the first conservative southern Democrats to switch to the Republican Party.

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 05:57:04 AM PDT

  •  I'd disagree on many levels (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, liberte

    The only time I've seen someone claimed as a "racist" is when there is political motivation that works against a certain pool of citizens.  In AZ it is the hispanic population and the idea that "all illegal citizens aren't really people so they shouldn't have rights".  Lots of people who are being labeled as "illegals" have been found to be fully fledged legal citizens.  That combined with various comments the talking heads of Republicans use, and the lack of the base speaking out about what is being said, gets to the point where the whole base gets called "racist".

    Now as far as state rights go here is how I see it.  States have had the ability to control insurance for years and have failed in doing so.  During the beginning of our recession the states could have tried to deal with the budget gaps then but did not, so big brother federal government had to step in to shore up the states.  There are a lot of states that fail to do the job their respective constitutions ask state politicians to do.

    I see a lot of assumptions on your side and so you decide that Democrats have no respect for state rights.  

    If at first you don't succeed, vote Teapublicans out and try again. You have to be persistent if you want anything out of life.

    by Final Frame on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 06:26:21 AM PDT

  •  this diary is an interesting case (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, Sandy on Signal, liberte

    The diarist makes a series of assertions ( a conservative "debating" tactic) which are then arranged to appear to follow a logical path, then makes more assertions as to how liberals should change their mindset,  an imagined mindset that is the direct product of arranging assertions (straw man, another conservative "debating" tactic). Furthermore, there is no attempt to engage any criticism in the comments, a very tried and true tactic of conservatives in hostile territory.

    As a sample case, it points out some of the systemic difficulties involved with reasoned discourse with people who operate the way this diarist does (i.e. conservatives).
    1) Establishment as "one of us" is important to the diarist. This implies a need for a tribal sort of acceptance, the feeling that whatever he has to say will be better received if readers consider the source to be friendly. This is the Fox News syndrome in high relief. I doubt the diarist expected that folks on this blog are quite comfortable tearing into anyone who posts material like this, regardless of their liberal credentials.
    2) The assertions made about the attitudes of others are presented as though there is some evidence to back them up, but of course there is none presented. This highlights two important factors; the diarist is comfortable making unsupported assertions and conclusions based on those assertions, and that the diarist can slide from a perceived action (what liberals say about state vs federal power) to what liberals think about the concept of state vs federal power. Ascribing motives (particularly poor ones) to the observed (or imagined) behaviors of others, then making the leap to conclude what the thinking behind these (observed or imagined) behaviors may be is a standard conservative "tactic" as well.

    If the diarist is in fact interested in the different views of the powers of state govt vs federal govt, it would be instructive to rewrite this diary and remove all of the assertions made about other people, acknowledge that "states rights" has been a racist rallying cry for decades, and look at policies enacted by liberal state govts for actual data. It might also be helpful for the diarist to take at their word the several people who have stated that their support or opposition to various state actions is aligned to the outcomes of those policies, not an ideological adherence to big federal government.

    Ok, I've talked to myself long enough.

    Dear Confederacy, please remember what happened last time you acted like this.

    by kamarvt on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 07:55:47 AM PDT

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