It has been said many times and many ways, ‘Those who do not remember and learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.’ Much like the build-up leading to Secession and Civil War 150 years ago, America is once again dangerously divided over issues and conflicts between Federal, State and Individual power. Like the years leading up to Secession and Civil War, serious rifts between state and federal power appear to once again be coming to a head. In the lead up to the Civil War, there were controversial policies and Supreme Court Decision as well,
- Kansas-Nebraska Act
- Missouri Compromise
- Dred Scott Decision
- Morrill Tariff
Divisive policies surrounding slavery, divisive Supreme Court decisions and divisive economic policies created the rift, which sounds uncannily similar to what we are experiencing today. How divided are we? A recent Rasmussen poll shows that 33% of Likely U.S. Voters now believe that states should have the right to ignore federal court rulings, up from 24% in February. Sixty percent (60 %) see the government as a threat to individual liberty. Following last week’s controversial U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage, voters believe more strongly that individual states should have the right to turn their backs on the federal courts.
This comes at a time when controversy over the display of the Confederate-era battle flag has focused attention on the Civil War and its causes beyond the slavery issue. Focusing the attention of people on the economic issues and the conflict between state and federal powers. Like Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan who served as President before Abraham Lincoln, these issues accumulated and festered on their watch and the election of Lincoln brought it all to fruition.
The pre-Civil War abolitionist movement spurred a conflict between federal power and states rights, urging the federal government to override the states’ rights to employ slavery. The results of the Civil War are mixed, while it did end slavery and modernize the economy, it also drastically increased the Power of the federal government. Centralized power in Washington D.C. is the source of much of the conflict today.
The Tea Party movement and growth in popularity of libertarian ideals have risen up to challenge that centralized power and support more state and local control of issues. Top down policies like the “Affordable Care Act” also known as Obamacare, along with controversial Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and Same-Sex Marriage have put federal power and States’ Rights at odds once again. The Rasmussen poll illustrates the fact that such a power struggle is influencing the opinion of the people away from federal power and in favor of the States. Even to the point of drastic constitutional changes being proposed to address the Judicial Activism of the Supreme Court, I myself asked the question, Should We Require Supreme Court Decisions To Be Unanimous?
As we progress through this election cycle, one can only wonder if our choices in this election, or the next, may lead to Civil War or avert it.