But What If Your Loyalty is to the Constitution?

Steven Den Beste (soon to be married and fathering little Den Bestes if Connie du Toit has anything to say about it) has a piece on “What prevents another Civil War?”

Steven has two answers: The first, sort of flippantly, the U.S. Army. The second, the fact that we as citizens no longer see our loyalty as being primarily toward our State but toward our Nation (unless you’re a fringe leftist, in which case your loyalties are towards some nebulous “world government” currently represented by the corrupt UN.)

There’s more to it than that, though. With the advent of easy high-speed travel, the State borders have no real meaning to us beyond what the tax rates look like, and the climate and scenery. State borders aren’t just unimportant, they are largely meaningless (unless you’re a Texan) to us in terms of loyalty.

But what happens when a large (but minority) portion of the population becomes convinced that the Federal government has abandonded the founding legal structure it supposedly “protects and defends?”

Professor Randy Barnett’s recent book Restoring the Lost Constitution makes the point that, for all intents and purposes the Constitution is, if not dead, on final life support. Justice Antonin Scalia protests that the Supreme Court no longer feels bound to follow the Constitution – “five hands is all it takes,” he says. Senator Zell Miller protests that ours is a Republic no longer.

Our Constitutionally enumerated and protected individual rights are under constant legal assault under the aegis of the War on Crime, the War on Drugs, and the War on Terror, and all three branches of the government are complicit. The media – the unacknowledged Fourth Branch – largely is too.

What prevents another Civil War?

Thomas Jefferson predicted it long, long ago in his letter to William Smith concerning Shay’s Rebellion of 1787:

And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.

And Jefferson was right, as we have seen. Jefferson continued, though:

We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

Seems that Jefferson counciled a bit of revolution from time to time.

Libertarian pundit Claire Wolfe wrote a while back, “America’s at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.” Claire had it wrong. The time to shoot the bastards is early on. Now it’s too late.

What prevents another Civil War here isn’t the Army or the fact that we hold a higher loyalty to our Nation than to our State of residence, it’s ignorance and apathy.

EDIT: Another link from Steven in less than a week! I must be doing something right.

Anyway, this piece is merely an update of an older one, Pressing the “Reset” Button from last December, which I also suggest you read. Professor Barnett’s book, Scalia’s quote, and Zell Miller’s complaint just add to my convictions on the topic. The first part of the 21st Century promises to be an ugly one.

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