Federalism rules the land

The federal farmer, who wrote a critique during the Constitutional debates of 1787-88 on the provision of representation, paraphrased, "We will elect you, our neighbor, to go up north to represent us. Within a few months after the fat cats wine and dine you, you will get used to this new lifestyle, you will forget the needs of your native community and become a tool for their ever growing power."

To the victor go the spoils. Among other things: He controls the media; He writes our textbooks; He gives us the illusion of choice in the two dominant, conservative parties; one red; one blue. Eighty years after Washington was sworn in, He finally stood triumphant over his liberal adversary. He is federalism.

Power is money; money is power. That is the way the system is set up. Those textbooks mentioned above give only fleeting acknowledgement that there were strong reservations about replacing the Articles of Confederation with a new constitution proposed by 55 privileged, wealthy white guys. Our textbooks rarely direct our attention to the Webster/Hayne debate of 1830, both of whom were brilliant and clear in their differences on the state and direction of the union at the 40-year mark. Our lack of critical historical exploration prevents us from following the thread of John Adams' spiteful midnight appointment of John Marshall as chief justice that would inevitably lead to the subversion of the 14th Amendment that gave corporations bellybuttons (corporate personhood).

Cato, Brutus, Centennial and other anti-federalists 13 generations ago foresaw the struggle we find ourselves in today. They were the counterpoint of Hamilton. Cato (Gov. Clinton of New York) argued that the consolidation of such an immense extent of territory, its variety of climates, productions, and commerce, the dissimilitude in interest, morals, and politics, would in its exercise be a house divided against itself. Hamilton, ironically and aptly writing under the pseudonym of Caesar, countered that a strong centralized government trumped local sovereignty; prosperity could happen only with the elites in control; top-down central planning, trickle-down economics. Liberty sacrificed for the common good.

Webster affirmed the success of federalist principles, and perhaps framed in the context of the Industrial Revolution that grew along with this infant nation, and the efficiencies of capitalism that propelled us to the greatest empire in recorded history; he was right. There are those of us who believe that the Industrial Revolution, and by extension, capitalism, were made possible by tapping into the Earth's savings account of fossil fuels. At one time, these fuels were cheap and easy to obtain. They are becoming increasingly more expensive and complex to harvest. Therefore, following the biological principle of "overshoot," large corporations and centralized governments will find themselves not nimble enough to survive.

My humble excursion into our nation's history was undertaken to make two points:

First: Business and government are so intertwined that controlling political spending is as futile as the Dutch boy sticking his finger in the dike. Consider this: if we didn't buy it, they would stop selling it.

Second: A new paradigm is unfolding before us — localization — anti-federalism, in essence. Imagine, sending one or two pennies to the feds (to keep the phones on) and the rest of the tax dollar spent locally. Take responsibility for your vote, your life and your community.

Michael Dawkins lives in Ashland.

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