Friday, January 06, 2012

4 New Year's Resolutions for Conservatives

1) Speak of Federalism, not "States' Rights"

States don’t have rights. People do.

States have powers. Nowhere in the Constitution are states said to possess rights. Congress has certain powers, clearly enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and the conservative-favorite Tenth Amendment makes clear that all the other powers are reserved to the states.

Not only is it incorrect to speak of states’ rights, but the expression has more baggage than Samsonite and Louis Vuitton combined. In case you didn’t know, “states’ rights” was the rallying cry of segregationists. Since no right-thinking conservative will keep company with such people, let’s just drop the term states’ rights once and for all.

If you’re concerned about federal encroachments on state sovereignty or the erosion of federalism–as you should be–then speak of federal encroachments on state sovereignty or the erosion of federalism. Or of the need to restore limited constitutional government, reinvigorate local self-government, decentralize power or check the growth of out-of-control government. With so many great formulations to choose from, why weaken the case for liberty by relying on “states’” rights?

The above is the first of four "New Year's Resolutions for Conservatives" as outlined by David Azerrad, the Assistant Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics. Read what Azerrad has to say about the other three (2. Resist the Nullification Temptation; 3. Isolationism is un-American; and 4. Equality is not a four-letter word) right here.