Intelligent human beings tend to learn from disastrous errors in judgment, and despite inducement and determination, resist the urge to repeat catastrophic events. There are cases though, where a country’s leaders failed to learn from their predecessors’ mistakes and regardless the consequences, embarked on a path that resulted in another catastrophe. Germans failed to learn the lessons of World War I and within thirty years they plunged the world into the Second World War with devastating results to the entire globe. Americans suffered through a bloody Civil War and conventional wisdom dictated the country would never again experience the near destruction of the Union over any issue. There are Americans who dearly want to repeat the Civil War experience and in Georgia, Republican legislators took the first step on the path slave owners took over 182 years ago that plunged America into the bloodiest war in its history.
Since Barack Obama has been President, there have been numerous instances of leaders threatening to disobey federal laws on the basis of state’s rights and in some cases, Republicans insinuated they would secede from the Union or take up arms to protect their right to reject legally passed legislation they objected to. In Georgia, five state senators including Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R) and senate President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams (R) introduced legislation that allows Georgia and its citizens to ignore any federal law Republicans do not want not follow. The legislation ignores the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause that clearly states, “The Laws of the United States which shall be made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land,” and it is the reason states do not have the right to ignore federal laws.
The Georgia legislators introduced the nullification bill that is summed up with the words, “In the event the General Assembly votes by a constitutional majority to nullify any federal statute, mandate, or executive order on the grounds of constitutionality, neither the state nor its citizens shall recognize or be obligated to live under such statute, mandate, or executive order.” The similarities to pre-Civil War sensibilities of Southern states is remarkable and reflect opposition to, among other things, the Affordable Care Act and the right of women to choose their own reproductive health. However, the impetus of nullification is rejection of Barack Obama as President of the United States and not any one particular law.
In Texas, legislators recently passed a law nullifying federal law regulating light bulbs and several states passed unconstitutional laws nullifying the Affordable Care Act. In April 2009, Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested that Texas might secede if the federal government did not change its fiscal policies. Perry also told an audience in March of 2009 that, “When we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation. And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.” The notion of rejecting legally passed legislation is not just a Southern state phenomenon. Michele Bachmann urged her supporters to become “armed and dangerous” and fight a revolution against cap and trade legislation. Failed Nevada senatorial candidate Sharon Angle floated the possibility of armed insurrection if “this Congress keeps going the way it is,” and that if “Congress keeps it up, people may find themselves resorting to Second Amendment remedies.” Angle defended her comments by referring to the Founding Fathers’ intent for including the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution saying, “they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government.”
This crazy claim that there is a “tyrannical regime” in control of the country is code for an “African American man sitting in the Oval Office.” The opposition to the Affordable Care Act, contraception coverage, and light bulbs is not because they were edicts or illegal; it is because racists cannot stand the thought of an alleged “interloper” occupying a place reserved for white Christian males. The current pack of lunatics competing to win the Republican nomination for the presidency have all campaigned on the premise that “getting rid of Barack Obama” will bring America back from the brink of collapse and restore America to greatness if a white man is president. The Republicans and their pundits parrot the flimsy proposition that any law passed under the Obama Administration is illegal and being shoved down Americans’ throats and it is based on the erroneous principle that the President himself is illegal and certainly not an American. In lieu of “ridding” America of its illegal President, states like Georgia will simply nullify any federal laws enacted under President Obama.
The unconstitutional idea that a state can nullify federal law was invoked during the 1830’s by slave owners in southern states nearly caused a civil war at the time, and was the motivation of secessionists who did start America’s bloodiest conflict. Except for segregated southern states using nullification to maintain Jim Crow laws, the concept has been the purview of “constitutional radicalism” until January 2009. Its resurgence during President Obama’s administration increased with conservatives who are inspired by a neo-Confederate hate-group founder, Thomas Woods, who authored a book, “Nullification,” that argues “states have the final say” on a variety of issues. Woods once published an article declaring the Confederacy was “Christendom’s Last Stand,” and endorses the view that the Civil War was a “battle between atheists, socialists, and communists” on one side and “friends of order” on the other. His words are eerily similar to conservative accusations against President Obama.
There are several states that attempted to pass nullification laws since President Obama took office, and they are all states with Republican majorities and governors. Virginia governor Bob McDonnell signed an obviously unconstitutional law that purports to nullify portions of the Affordable Care Act, and several states have followed suit with many considering so-called “sovereignty resolutions” which claim states have the power to ignore federal laws that conservatives oppose. In New Hampshire in 2009, four state legislators introduced a resolution which would invalidate the entire Constitution if Congress passed any law conflicting with the right-wing view of federal power. There is only one connection between all of these nullification attempts and it is they all occurred during President Obama’s term with many coming before the ACA was passed and signed into law.
The similarities between Georgia and other Republican controlled states nullification efforts and pre-Civil War attempts are glaringly obvious; they are based on white supremacy and racism. It is not the health law, light bulbs, or fiscal policy that riles conservatives; it is an African American president. Southern states are not unique in attempting to nullify laws passed under the Obama Administration because racism and white supremacy is epidemic in Republican-controlled state legislatures and governor’s mansions. It is especially disgusting that the incredibly unconstitutional nullification laws are being introduced by Republicans who claim to love America and the Constitution and took an oath to protect them, but that is irrelevant to white supremacists whose goal in serving in Congress, state legislatures, and governors’ mansions is nullifying the achievements of the first African American President.
America is being broken up, but it is not because of armed conflict between North and South, it is being torn asunder by vile racism and plutocracy. Republicans are so filled with racist hatred of an African American President that they will go to any length to subvert, sabotage, and obstruct America and its people and there is nothing this President can ever do that the GOP will not attempt to nullify whether past, the present, or in the future. History will not be kind to Republicans because the record will mark the President’s time in office as the era that Republicans sought to tear the country apart to protest his race. It is obvious that Republicans never learned the lessons from the Civil War because they are repeating the same mistakes that drove Americans to slaughter each other over African Americans. The only difference between the pre-Civil War era and today is that bigots nullified federal laws over all African Americans in the 1800s, and today it is over one African American sitting in the Oval Office. The similarity between then and now is that the Constitution will survive and Americans will suffer unless voters nullify Republicans at the ballot box for attempting to tear apart the United States of America.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.