The Normalization Of Nullification
For most of the last century, talk of secession, nullification and the rest of the extreme states-rights lexicon were relegated to the fringiest parts of the political fringe. But since Barack Obama entered the White House in January 2009, mainstream Republican rhetoric and proposed legislation at the state level have both warmed to the hoary idea that state governments can take their relationship with the federal government on what amounts to an a la carte basis or perhaps abandon it altogether.
Take the concept of Nullification — the notion that individual states can unilaterally refuse to follow or enforce federal law they don’t agree with. For the most part, it’s been laughed off since the Civil War. It was brought up again by segregationists during the Civil Rights Era but more out of desperation and political theater than as a serious approach to the constitution.
But the rise of the Tea Party and its amorphous anti-federal government platform has brought these ideas closer to the mainstream than they’ve been in decades. So, while nullification advocates, Tenthers, secessionists, “constitutional tender” proponents, and the rest don’t necessarily share the same theoretical rationales, together they’ve brought hostility to the federal government back into the realm of respectable political discourse.
The change first came into full view during the Health Care Reform debate when Republican lawmakers happily ginned up and supported the idea that states could opt out of the law via Tenth Amendment-based legislation.
TPMMuckraker has an excellent piece up tracing many of the trends noted here on LGF every day. Highly recommended.