The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing -- Edmund Burke

Home  TOC  Sitemap  Search

Alerts - Petitions - Polls - Surveys

Archives  Features  Cartoons

About Us  Contact Us

Conservative Calendar of Events

Election 2002

Columnists  Guest Voices  Bios

Publishers Corner

The Liberal Assault on Our Federal Republic

Part X: "Conclusions"

Michael A. Wallace      

September 15, 2002

Section 1

Power versus Liberty

On a human and political level, the essential nature of life is a struggle for civil rights and freedom, or liberty.  Our entire national history reflects these elements of struggle.  The Civil War was the crucible where these elements collided.  Issues linger today from this War.

"States' Rights" and Civil War

"States' Rights", a concept invoked by North and South before, during and after the Civil War, was advanced and defended differently by each.  As a result, it is a much-maligned and misunderstood political concept.

Its expression reflects a belief that States hold unto themselves appropriate powers that maximize the liberties of its citizens while keeping at bay the intrusiveness of a more powerful central government.  At its core, the issue is a struggle over the dividing line between the powers of the Federal Government and the States, and resistance to the encroachment of national power in our lives.  As Thomas Jefferson viewed it in its rawest form, the object of government was power at the expense of liberty.

Thomas Jefferson discussed the principle in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, whose purpose was to contest the Alien and Sedition Acts and argue that the Federal Government had overstepped its Constitutional bounds.3

Before the Civil War, some members of state delegations in the North actually threatened first to secede from the Union due to the oppressive nature of slavery, citing Thomas Jefferson's "States' Rights" arguments.4  In the South, before the Civil War, "States' Rights" was cited as justification for seceding from the Union in order to preserve what the southern aristocracy considered the North's unfair abridgement of the Constitution's arrangement on slavery.  Slavery, it must be noted, is not mentioned or alluded to at all in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.

The Civil War was fought to end slavery, so our children's history books tell them.  This over-simplification ignores more complex factors.  The Civil War was fought, as President Lincoln said, first, to primarily preserve the Union.5  He said this because the southern States invoked "States' Rights" as justification for secession, following through on a threat they had been making for decades.

The Civil War seemingly eliminated the concept of "States' Rights" because it ended slavery.  But the Civil War did not eliminate the concept of "States' Rights"!

Southern State governments and the Supreme Court, dominated again by the Democratic Party, re-invoked "States' Rights" to dismantle Reconstruction and the newly-won civil rights for black Americans, which were all championed by Republicans.  "States' Rights" was then used by Democrats to resist a renewed federal push for civil rights well into the 20th century.

"States' Rights" – i.e. the balance and division of powers between States and Federal government – remains a legitimate concept even after Democrats misapplied it to precipitate Civil War, and even after Democrats invoked it yet again to re-enslave and oppress black Americans.  "States' Rights" however is in the minds of many people today a discredited concept only because it was used as justification to allow Southern States to protect their "peculiar institution" of slavery.

I have expounded on this to reveal an irony.

The same immoral Democratic Party that defended slavery and the suppression of civil and voting rights under a concept of "State's Rights" -- far removed from its original construct -- now totally distances itself from the concept.  Instead, Democrats are the party of monolithic central government, yet whether they argued their agenda under "States' Rights", the New Deal, or the Great Society, they continue to abuse power and endanger liberty.

Democrats today ridicule conservative notions of "States' Rights", attributing moral intent to us that, ironically, is only the heritage of the Democratic Party.

Democrats depict principled resistance to powerful, arbitrary, intrusive and oppressive central government as something automatically bad.  We should not be ashamed to hold and defend these contrary beliefs because our Republic was founded and has thrived under these principles.

I cannot say that I am a zealot for "States' Rights", but I can say that the Democrat's and "liberals' " desires to continually strengthen and expand the power of the Federal Government concerns me – and it is the same concern that was expressed from the earliest days of our Republic.  I believe Thomas Jefferson, of all the Founders, was most correct about the struggle between power and liberty.6

Here is the point of this brief diversion, ladies and gentlemen.  The Voter's March agenda represents continued extension of central government into our lives, much of it unnecessary.  The dividing line between the powers of the Federal Government and the States is again being moved.

In response to the Florida election, Voter's March demands sweeping reforms and national legislation.  This is the "liberals' " pat answer to any issue.

Many States' officials, to the chagrin of "liberals", observed the election, assessed their own voting processes and procedures, achieved bipartisan consensus, and have taken steps to address them.  Florida for instance, effective January 1, 2002, implemented sweeping electoral reforms that bars punch cards -- the source of hanging chads that was claimed to be all Mr. Gore's -- and sets recount standards.

National legislation, however, is pending.  The matter is boiling to a head.

Pending Congressional Legislation

Republican Representative Robert Ney introduced H.R. 3295 in the House on November 14, 2001.  The bill's co-sponsor is Democratic Representative Steny Hoyer.

This is an extensive bill attempting to address a few of the provisions demanded in the "Voters' Bill of Rights" by the "Action Agenda for Electoral Reform" and Voter's March.

The purpose of the bill sounds innocuous until you delve into the specific language.  The summary, published by Congress, is to:

"…establish a program to provide funds to States to replace punch card voting systems, to establish the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections and to otherwise provide assistance with the administration of certain Federal election laws and programs, to establish minimum election administration standards for States and units of local government with responsibility for the administration of Federal elections, and for other purposes."

Let me address only the more important sections of this bill.7




3. A good site to visit to read The Resolutions is "The Avalon Project" at the Yale Law School.

4. Nowhere in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions is the specific term "States' Rights" used.  The term is a simplified reduction of a complex, powerful argument.

5. Forrest McDonald notes that the timing of Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, at the strong urging of the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, kept Great Britain (and France) from intervening on behalf of the Confederacy when the Union appeared at its weakest.  Lincoln needed a battlefield victory before issuing the Proclamation, so it would not "…be seen as an act of desperation…." (My comment – Great Britain and France could not intervene when the War's purpose was elevated to such a noble purpose.  Great Britain, for instance, had already outlawed slavery.)  States' Rights and the Union, Imperium in Imperia 1776-1876, by Forrest McDonald, University Press of Kansas, 2000.

6. "States' Rights" is never justification to oppress citizens.  To use this political concept to do so is ignorant and immoral.

7. The entire bill may be viewed at here by typing "HR 3295" into the search engine provided.

Liberal Assault on Our Federal Republic Series

Copyright © Copyright © 2020, 2003, 2004 by Michael A. Wallace & America's Voices, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Michael A. Wallace is a registered Republican, a former Eagle Scout, a Lifetime Member of the National Rifle Association, a strong believer in Second Amendment rights, a retired Marine officer, and a pro-life advocate –- all things liberals seem to dislike.  In addition to his affiliation with America's Voices, Mike is a founding member of ConservaVets, a conservative veteran's organization (which has since become Rally4America).  Mike uses thorough constitutional and historical research to analyze and explain key moral and political issues of the day.  He particularly enjoys debunking the myths and lies perpetrated by the many liberal groups who claim to speak for most Americans and by those who misrepresent Constitutional principles to further their own agendas.  E-mail Mike at


Mike's constitutionally-focused series, written exclusively for America's Voices, include:


Home  TOC  Sitemap  Search

Alerts - Petitions - Polls - Surveys

Archives  Features  Cartoons

About Us  Contact Us

Conservative Calendar of Events

Election 2002

Columnists  Guest Voices  Bios

Publishers Corner


D-Day inaugural
feature article


Editor's Mailbag
Publishing Guidelines

Copyright © Copyright © 2020, 2003, 2004 by America's Voices, Inc.
Columbus, Ohio.  All rights reserved.

America's Voices, America's Voices University, and are service marks of America's Voices, Inc. a not-for-profit educational organization.