Sunday, January 11, 2009

"States' Rights"

Federalism keeps coming up from people who want a weaker federal government with stronger state governments. They are self-identified "federalists," because to them "federalism" is a code phrase for "states' rights" that (theoretically) carries less baggage from long service to segregationism.

This annoys me, and I feel a need to vent about it. I mean, it's one thing for the meaning of a word to change over time--which is inevitable and not worth fretting over--but it is quite another to totally reverse the definition of the word in the hopes of co-opting its credibility without actually having to like it.

Dear Conservatives,

About the whole "federalism" thing. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

See, according to my East Coast elitist American history classes (with their nasty tax-funded public education curriculum), the USA used to have a Federalist political party, and I'm pretty sure that what you so-called "New Federalists" want is much closer to the Federalist Party's opposition: the Democratic Republicans. Democratic Republicans were the ones who worried that "big government" was going to be a threat to the rights of the people. Federalists wanted a stronger--wait for it--federal government.

I know, I know. Complicated stuff.

But please, guys. If you're going to kneel down to fellate our forefathers in the absence of any original plans, please do it right. This so-called "New Federalism" is the brainchild of Conservatives who must have either flunked history, or hoped everyone in their constituency had.

Stop proving them right. Go read The Federalist Papers, and then decide whether you want to say, "I am a Federalist."

Hugs and kisses,

Your friendly neighborhood social scientist.

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