There is a saying that “all politics is local,” and it’s most commonly used in the United States. The saying is often ascribed to former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill (Democrat, Massachusetts). Whether or not he actually coined the phrase doesn’t matter. He was right, but not in the way he thought. O’Neill was talking about how federal politicians need to pander to local needs in their districts in order to secure their seats in office. However, the saying has a much deeper meaning that O’Neill (a Washington insider) may not have fully grasped.
According to the historical record, federal power was given to the federal government by the consent of the thirteen original states, and consented to thereafter by every other state that entered the Union. The power to govern is inherent to the states, not the Fed. The Fed derives it’s powers from the states that ratified the US Constitution, and every single amendment ever added to that constitution. Without the states, the Fed has no power.
Stop and think about that. Without the states, the federal government has no power.
When the federal government issues laws, regulations and executive orders, it relies primarily on the states to enforce those edicts. While direct enforcement is possible through federal marshals, the FBI and other federal agencies, these organizations are rather small compared to the overwhelming number of law enforcement in state, county and city government. There is just no way the federal government could hire enough marshals and agents to police the whole nation. The Fed needs the states to get the job done.
Sometimes, however, some states don’t want to cooperate, and so they don’t. Once that happens, there isn’t a whole lot the Fed can do about it. For example, multiple states (including my own) have decided to no longer enforce some federal anti-drug laws. These states have each decided to stop enforcing them as they see fit, according to what their citizens want. In Colorado there is virtually no state enforcement of federal anti-drug laws prohibiting the possession, sale and use of marijuana. In Missouri, on the other hand, a medical prescription is required to buy, possess and use marijuana. Keep in mind, however, that the sale, possession and use of marijuana is still illegal (as of the date of this writing) within the United States under federal law. You can still be arrested for the sale, possession and use of marijuana in all 50 states by a federal marshal or any federal agent. But do you see federal marshals and agents knocking down doors to arrest people for simple marijuana charges in these states? No. Why? Because there are too many people breaking the federal law in those states, and since the state won’t help enforce the federal law anymore, there are not enough federal officers, prosecutors, judges or prisons to enforce them. Without state support, these federal laws have become completely, totally and 100% unenforceable.
It’s called state nullification. When a state nullifies a federal law, that federal law is essentially dead in that state. It still exists on the federal books, but state officers are forbidden to enforce it. Since the federal government doesn’t have the resources to enlist enough federal officers to do it by itself, it’s like the law doesn’t exist anymore. The same goes for federal gun laws, medical insurance regulations, and federal mandates of all sorts. When a state decides to stop playing ball with the Fed, in that state, the game is over. And yes, every single state has this nullification power. All state politicians need to know is if the citizens of that state desire to exercise this power, and specifically what federal law they would like to nullify.
Now why is this?
Well, it has to do with a little fact that most Americans have forgotten. It’s the definition of the word “state.” We tend to think of the United States as a country, and the state we live in as just a province or territory within that country. So for example: when asked “what country are you from?” We often say something like “America” or “The United States.” Therein lies the problem.
The United States of America is not a country. It’s not a state at all. It’s a union. A union is a conglomeration of many states (countries), into a larger nation. For example: the European Union (EU) is a union not a country. When you ask a European what country he’s from, he never says “Europe” or the “EU.” He always names a specific country (or member-state) within that union — France, Germany, Italy, etc. This is because the EU is relatively new, and people within the EU still have a strong sense of state identity.
The United States of America is also a union, which is very similar to the European Union, except it’s in North America, and it’s much, much older. There are fifty member-states in this American Union. Each member-state is a unique and individual state. A state is a country.
Let that sink in. A state is a country. We could just as easily substitute the word “country” for “state” and the United States would be called the “United Countries of America.” It doesn’t sound as smooth as “United States of America,” but it is just as accurate. So each state is a country. My home State of Missouri is a country, and it’s a different country than our neighboring State of Arkansas. That’s why our laws are different. That’s why we have different state capitals and different state flags, etc. However, we all use the same money, and follow the same rules of the road, etc, because we’re all part of the same union called the United States.
That’s the benefit to living within a union. We can travel freely from one state (country) to another, without having to show passports, change money, or even be required to stop and tell customs officers why we’re there. We can stay in other states (countries) for as long as we like, either for work or pleasure, and never have to report to immigration officers or be required to leave within a certain amount of time. We can live in one state (country) and work in another, and some people do. Unions are great, when they work properly, because they allow the greatest freedom of movement, and the most financial freedom. If some people don’t like living in one state (country), they can easily pack up and move to another, and not have to worry about customs or citizenship. In a strong union, like the United States, your state citizenship automatically transfers once you change residence and driver’s license. Once that happens, you’re now eligible to vote and participate in your new state (country) benefits. It sounds great, right?
Yes, national unions are great, most of the time. However, they can sometimes go wrong. That usually happens when union governments start to get too intrusive into the jurisdictions of state governments. Recently, the United Kingdom (UK), a member-state (member-country) in the EU decided that the EU government in Brussels was getting too intrusive and starting to infringe on the governing powers of the UK. It got so bad that even the common citizens started to notice it. So, in 2016, the UK held a national referendum called the Brexit, and decided to leave the EU. The final break came in 2020. This is an example of how a union could go wrong, and what can happen when it does. In the EU, member states (member countries) can join and leave freely. So it’s not that strong of a union, but it just goes to show that even a weak union can sometimes go wrong, becoming too intrusive and meddling into state (country) affairs.
The United States (US) is a much older union, and a fairly strong one, meaning that member-states are not allowed to leave without first getting permission from all the other states. That’s what America’s Civil War was all about. Eleven southern states tried to leave the union without first getting permission from the twenty northern states. (There were only 31 states in the US at that time.) A war followed over this issue. Slavery was just a secondary cause that led to the war, but the war wasn’t about slavery. Some northern states had slaves too. No. The war was about secession. It was to determine if the US was a weak union (like the EU is now) where member-states can leave on their own, if they so desire. Or if it was a strong union, wherein member-states must obtain permission from other member-states before leaving. The outcome of the war determined that the United States is a strong union. Member-states must obtain permission from all the other member-states before leaving. This can only be done through constitutional amendment.
However, this doesn’t change the fact that each member-state is still a country. Each one is unique, with its own identity, laws and culture. Some resemble others. Some are different from others. But they’re all sovereign. The word “sovereign” means that the right to rule originates from them. They can, and they have, delegated some of their ruling powers to the federal government, as outlined in the US Constitution, but the federal government has no right to rule of its own accord. It must borrow its ruling powers from the states, as outlined by the US Constitution. So far, these outlined powers are pretty broad, and give the federal government the power to do quite a bit.
So the states (countries) delegate some of their ruling powers to the federal government, in order to make a union, but they don’t delegate all of their ruling powers. For example: the biggest power the states have delegated to the Fed is the power to print money. This allows us to have a single-dollar system for all fifty states, and it’s the reason why we don’t have to exchange currency every time we travel from one state to another. Other powers have been delegated as well, such as the powers to declare wars, negotiate treaties, etc. In some areas, the states have retained their own powers, while also sharing them with the Fed, such as the power to raise militias, build roads, railways, seaports and airports. Some powers the states have reserved strictly for themselves. Examples include the power to run all elections, the power to ratify amendments to the US Constitution, and the power to maintain law and order, among other things. Did you catch that? All of the biggest, and most important, powers are reserved to the states. The federal government literally cannot function, or effectively govern anything, unless the states do their jobs, which they alone have power over.
Problems occur when the federal government starts meddling into the governing affairs of the states, and more often than not, this happens in the areas of federal regulations and programs. It can also happen when there is a difference in understanding between the states and the Fed in the area of civil rights. Sometimes the Fed wants to guarantee civil rights the states don’t recognize. Sometimes the states want to guarantee civil rights the Fed doesn’t recognize. These are the primary areas where conflict occurs within the union of the United States of America.
The states are usually in the right unless, however, a state is directly infringing on the civil rights of one group of people, which are ordinarily enjoyed by another group of people in that same state, as in the historical case of segregation for example. The only time the Fed has historically had the right to meddle in state affairs is in such cases where different people are being treated differently, due to the color of their skin. It’s generally understood in the federal union of the United States that all persons are to be treated equally under the law, regardless of things like race, color, sex, religion, political views, etc. As long as a state is following this basic principle, that everyone is equal under the law, it remains free of federal meddling.
So, what does this all mean?
It means your state is a country.
Missouri, within the United States, is a lot like France within the European Union. California, within the United States, is a lot like Spain within the European Union. Texas, within the United States, is a lot like Germany within the European Union. There are only two major differences. One, in the United States we mostly speak the same language, whereas in the European Union they do not. Two, the United States is a much stronger Union than the EU, which has both its advantages and disadvantages.
Probably the biggest disadvantage is federal politics itself. Americans invest so much of their thoughts, emotions and energy into federal politics, that they almost entirely forget their state politics. In fact, most Americans are probably oblivious to the fact that we don’t really live in one country, but rather a strong union of fifty different countries. Consequently, our federal elections can become extremely contentious, and occasionally explosive, as we saw on January 6, 2021 when the US Capitol Building was sieged by a handful of agent provocateurs (probably Antifa), leading a mob of angry voters upset about massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
So the issue facing many of us today, especially those of us who are both conservative Christians and patriotic Americans, is that we have to get back to the basics by understanding what America really is. We tend to think of America as one country, one massive State, and it’s not. It’s a conglomeration of fifty different countries (states) into a strong union. The clue is in the name of our union itself. It’s called the “United STATES of America” (plural), not the “Uniform STATE of America” (singular). I’m afraid that too many Americans, both on the political Right and Left, have started to think in terms of “Uniform State” rather than “United States.” They’ve began thinking in the singular rather than the plural. They’ve began thinking we have one government, when we really have fifty-one (50 states plus 1 Fed).
Elections have consequences. All elections do. That’s true for the federal government, but it’s also true for the state governments as well. As I said above, states don’t always have to be team-players with the Fed. Sometimes they can refuse to play ball altogether, and as long as they’re resolute about it, there really isn’t much the federal government can do.
So the answer for conservative Christians, and patriotic Americans, is to simply refocus the political battle toward state politics, and start working on getting some nullification resolutions underway. If we don’t like a federal law, or executive order, then we nullify it, using all legal powers natural to the states (countries) within this union. This has already been done, many times, and we can continue to do this again. My own State of Missouri has made it a celebrated tradition to nullify some federal gun-control laws. We’re already preparing legislation to nullify any additional gun-control edicts issued by executive order from President Joe Biden, even though he hasn’t even signed them yet! Colorado has done the same with some federal anti-drug laws. It’s already legal to possess, buy and use marijuana, but did you know Colorado citizens are already working toward nullifying federal anti-drug laws against magic mushrooms too?!
The best way to refocus your thinking is to start having a little state pride in addition to national pride in the union. Everybody loves the American flag, but what about your state flag?
Have you ever spent much time talking to a Texan? If you have, you probably already know that many Texans consider themselves to be Texans before they consider themselves Americans. In other words, they’re Texans first, and Americans second. I’ve seen similar state pride in a number of South Carolinians as well as a few Californians. We need to all be a little more like that. For example, I’m a Missourian, and I’ve learned to think of myself as a Missourian first and an American second. Is there anything wrong with this? No! Of course not! I still consider myself a “red-blooded American” (as they say), but I just happen to have a lot more pride in my State of Missouri, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
So, this is what we do…
- Get yourself a flag, your state’s flag, and hang it somewhere around your house. Save your American flag for special occasions, like federal holidays for example, and display your state flag on all other days. This is what I do. It’s important! We have to change our mindset, our thinking, the very way we view ourselves and each other. If we don’t change our thinking, we lose the battle before we even begin to fight. Remember, Marxists think strictly in terms of top-down governance. They’re incapable of thinking any other way. So they always seek to implement their agenda using a top-down approach from the federal government. If we play along, focusing on federal politics to the neglect of state politics, we’re playing by their rules, and that’s a guaranteed way to lose. We’ve got to start thinking like citizens of our states first, and give state politics top priority. If we do this, we’re playing by our rules, and we have the home advantage.
- Find a good news source for state news, specifically limited to your state. Bookmark it, subscribe to it, whatever you need to do, do it, and check it regularly.
- Contact your STATE legislators (representative and senator), and establish email contact with them to get their newsletters, and keep track of current legislation. Interact with them about issues of concern to you. You’ll find they’re usually much more accessible than federal politicians. This link should help you find them quickly.
- Support nullification of federal edicts that contradict your political beliefs. Push for more freedom in your state as it relates to your political beliefs. Push for your state to gain more power over things the Fed currently controls (taxes, entitlements, etc.).
- Start focusing more on state politics, rather than federal politics, and remember that federal politicians always love to make themselves sound more important than they really are. The real seat of power in your state should always be your state capital, not Washington DC.
- Visit your state capitol building to lay eyes on where things really happen when it comes to government. Ask your state representative to arrange a tour for you and perhaps a meeting there. Again, you’ll find they are much more accessible than federal politicians. Remember, state capitals are more important than the federal Capital of Washington DC. This is because most of the laws that govern your day-to-day life come from your state, not the federal government. Just remember, not only does your state government have more power over your life than the federal government can ever hope to, but there’s a good chance your state constitution probably guarantees you more freedoms than the federal Constitution does.
- Support the invocation of Article V, in the US Constitution, for a Convention of States. This is necessary to help the states regain more power, and wrestle control of local matters away from Washington DC.
No matter what the future holds for our federal union, bringing power back to the states can only be a good thing. If our federal government survives this century (which is doubtful) then it will survive stronger as a smaller federal government, with powerful state governments supporting it. If it doesn’t survive this century, and it collapses under its own weight, then states that have already regained as much power as possible, are going to have a softer landing when this nation falls. No matter how you look at it, turning to the states, for the future of politics, will set things up for a better long-term outcome. It will probably even help preserve our freedoms in the short term, especially in these dark times.
Shane Schaetzel is an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism and was trained as a catechist through the University of Dayton – a Catholic Marianist Institution. Shane’s articles have been featured on LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, The Remnant Newspaper, Forward in Christ, and Catholic Online. Shane is an author of Catholic books, which can be read here.