Quigley at Nullify Now! New Hampshire's conference
I was delighted to be asked to speak at the New Hampshire stop of The Tenth Amendment Center's "Nullify Now!" tour recently, sharing a platform with Thomas Woods, Michael Boldin and in other regions former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and the bright young writer Jack Hunter. Here are my comments:
FINAL - 1/19/11Speech: The New Age of Jefferson. Every State a Free State
To put it simply, the most astonishing thing that has happened these past two years is that the states have suddenly realized that they do not have to do what the federal government tells them to do.
The idea seemed incomprehensible when it was first presented up here in northern New England five years ago.
But today, if the Supreme Court upholds a lower judge’s ruling which allows gay marriage after the state has clearly indicated its collective will in opposition in a recent referendum, it will bring an existential situation to California. Five years ago it might have gone unnoticed. Today such a ruling would prove to Californians that their plight via Washington is no better than that of Tibet, dominated by alien and arbitrary rule by foreigners in Beijing thousands of miles away.
37 states at first initiated challenges to ObamaCare and the Obama bailouts when the Tea Party arose as movement. These states will not accept a Supreme Court ruling in opposition to their view. A Supreme Court ruling on the states’ challenge could potentially open to a legitimate revolutionary situation in America.
And it all started here in the free state of New Hampshire.
At the beginning of every movement is a wild bunch. Rowdy workers on the docks in Boston, John Brown and his half-mad family. When historians trace back to the roots of the Tea Party awakening, they will get to a wild bunch in New Hampshire called the “Free Staters.”
They moved here a few years back and live on the edge of the forest, not more than a handful at first but expecting thousands to follow, intending to start the republic fresh again. And in a way they did. I came to their attention with an article in around 2003 titled “A States’ Rights Defense against Dick Cheney” premised on Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions, making the claim that New Hampshire and Vermont need not participate in the war on Iraq without the permission of our state governors.
They had moved up here drawn to our state motto, I think – Live Free or Die. But it was no big ideological thing, more a free-spirited awakening. I received an email from one blithe spirit who said that she was basically about – quote - “ . . . opposing gun laws, legalizing marijuana and Hillary is a bitch.”
What we had in common was Thomas Jefferson’s premise that natural states formed of their own initiative. He acknowledged that in the Constitution by declaring that the states had the natural right and the ability to defend themselves against an abusive, arrogant, immoral or delirious federal government.
In the last two years this idea has taken off. I think now it cannot be held back. It will bring us a new breed of politician and a new political generation. It is already doing so.
This thinking first began to move in February, 2009, when Dan Itse, a New Hampshire state representative who is here today, read commentary related to Jefferson and the Kentucky Resolutions and proposed a 10th amendment defense against the Obama administration’s deficit spending; spending so extensive that it would tax future generations. Back in Boston my Irish relatives long ago brought the dead out to vote, but taxing the unborn was an enlightened new strategy.
It advanced again on April 15, 2009, when the Tea Party revolts started across the country. When Texas governor Rick Perry appeared at the Alamo it brought greater legitimacy to this movement. The legendary libertarian Judge Andrew Napolitano was there. Perry’s friend, Uncle Ted Nugent, brought his own inimitable style. Sarah Palin helped bring this movement nationally when she led support to governors starting in the NY 23 race, bridging the Tea Partiers and the mainstream.
And it all started up here in the woods of New Hampshire with the Free Staters. Never underestimate the power of a handful of rural red necks, duty-bound, born-again to the Constitution and hell-bent on a free vision of starting the world again.
On first reports that a group of young Libertarians was looking for a place to make a fresh start, nor'easterners responded with a Yankee sense of concerned indifference and phlegmatic detachment. It was a good place to come - cheap living shrouded in beautiful mountains with six months of snow and silence; in the spring, bear and moose wandering into your back yard and in autumn, coyotes on the edge of the woods chanting like a church choir in the night.
A few Libertarians with new ideas didn't seem like much of a threat. In New England, we understood about federalism as it had come to evolve since the Civil War. We understood what it meant and what it would bring.
New England understands federalism because we lost our very Jeffersonian original spirit to federalism in the build-up to the Civil War. Just as the South would yield to the New Yorkers - they of the "Empire State" - so too would New England submit. Our great poets and speakers, Emerson, Thoreau, Mary Moody Emerson and Bronson Alcott who brought us natural religion were our best. But in my opinion, they were also our last.
This is a consequence of federalism. New England went willfully under the banner of federalism to great effect, and now there are consequences. From 1865 onward, complaint of the nature of the federal compact had come only from the South. But now, for the first time since the Civil War, the federalist principle was being challenged by northern people and that was a consequence of the war on Iraq.
The war on Iraq began to explain federalism up here to people who had taken it for granted for 140 years. Federalism meant that if Washington, D.C. declares war on some other country for whatever purpose, the states have no say in the matter. Nor do the states have a say in any other matter.
The Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq, in full cooperation with an appeasing and weakling Congress of Easter Peeps and a cowardly and accommodating Supreme Court, bought torture, stripped Americans of their most basic Constitutional rights under the Patriot’s Act, repealed habeas corpus and unleashed other un-American and unconstitutional strategies. Men of honor lied outright at the United Nations and the press went along fully embedded in the cause. It was in my opinion inspired by “the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man,” – John Locke’s phrase to describe the very essence of tyranny.
I fully sympathized with the very human cry for vengeance after the tragic hurt of 9/11. But the sadness we felt - as great as any we had suffered in our history - was very soon thereafter manipulated by the federal government and there can be no greater betrayal of the human spirit as the manipulation of the human heart for political purposes. So at the beginning of the war on Iraq I proposed that we in the northernmost states of New England did not have to participate and under Thomas Jefferson's view of the Constitution we had the right not to participate as states.
My proposal received surprising support from the most liberal quarters in the North as it did from conservative Southerners. But most northern people I spoke to then had never before considered themselves to be citizens of a particular state and region and having particular rights as a citizen of that state. My explanation was that the state defines you - you are a citizen of a particular place on earth- a place with formidable mountains and great beauty and character and with its own way of earth, water, wind, crystal clear starry nights in winter and its own soul and traditions and its own personality.
While in federalism and its globalist visions, you are a customer; a buyer within an abstract economic policy. You are a figment of a globalist illusion. You are the faceless, uniform and undifferentiated expression of a global horde holding a little candle in a Pepsi commercial. In federalism you do not live in a place. You live in an economic zone.
We had very few supporters at the beginning of our first efforts, but one in particular, came to our support on his deathbed I am told and I have no reason to doubt it. George Kennan, America’s great post-war diplomat.
In one of his last books before he died (“Around the Craggy Hill”) the great ambassador brought forth his own vision of regionalization and it may be one suited to our day. He writes:
“I have often diverted myself, and puzzled my friends, by wondering how it would be if our country, while retaining certain of the rudiments of a federal government, were to be decentralized into something like a dozen constituent republics, absorbing not only the powers of the existing states but a considerable part of those of the present federal establishment. I could conceive of something like nine of these republics—let us say, New England; the Middle Atlantic states; the Middle West; the Northwest (from Wisconsin to the Northwest, and down the Pacific coast to central California); the Southwest (including southern California and Hawaii); Texas (by itself); the Old South; Florida (perhaps including Puerto Rico); and Alaska; plus three great self-governing urban regions, those of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles—a total of twelve constituent entities. To these entities I would accord a larger part of the present federal powers than one might suspect—large enough, in fact, to make most people gasp.”