By Scott Weiser
A basic principle of our political system is “state’s rights” or more properly state sovereignty. This means that outside of the small number of specific things that Congress is authorized to exercise nationwide authority over found in the Constitution, the states themselves retain their power and authority to regulate the goings-on within their states.
This causes considerable confusion among low-information citizens because they see the enormous size and scope of the federal government and don’t understand that the vast majority of political and legal power lies with their state government or with themselves, not the federal government. The misperception is both understandable and not accidental because the liberal-progressive arm of the federal government has been doing all it can to suppress the very idea that the states have any independent authority, much less sovereign authority limited only by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.
So how did the federal government get so large and become so intrusive in our lives and how did the states go from being a union of sovereign states to what appear to be vassals of unelected bureaucrats in Washington D.C.? This is a complex question, but a large part of it is the voluntary surrender of state authority and sovereignty by the states themselves. Why do states surrender their authority? Because in many cases the Congress bribes them to do so using the “carrot and stick” method of expanding federal power and control.
This method involves levying taxes on the inhabitants of the states, transferring that money to the federal government, skimming off 30 percent or more from the top to fund the federal bureaucracy and then granting what remains back to the states subject to terms and conditions the Congress and/or the President set for obtaining such grants.
That’s how, for example, Michelle Obama’s inedible school lunch program requirements became ubiquitous. Federal grants for school lunch programs were conditioned (by executive order) upon schools obeying the unelected President’s wife’s orders. If schools refused they lost access to all school lunch grants and kids would go hungry because the money to feed them had already been transferred from the state to the federal government through taxation and the bureaucrats in Washington refused to give it back to disobedient schools.
This isn’t unique to the Obama administration, although it was egregiously abused by it, this is a system that has been used for more than a hundred years to get states to “voluntarily” comply with federal social engineering mandates. Don’t cooperate, don’t get any money. And since the money comes from the states in the first place state politicians are loathe to wean state government off of the federal teat and go it on their own because it’s political suicide and economic heresy.
State taxpayers expect whatever they can get of their hard-earned tax money back from the feds and get very vindictive when politicians refuse federal grants because they want to protect state sovereignty. Most people just don’t get it so they complain when their kids can’t get a free lunch because their legislators have been courageous enough to refuse the King’s coin in order to protect the independence and liberty of their state and their constituents. An ethical weakness perhaps, but a fact of political life in America nonetheless. But there is some good news now that the liberal progressives aren’t in charge anymore.
Now it’s time to turn the worm and see just how far Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown and the California state legislature are willing to go to preserve their ethical beliefs and dedication to their announced political “sanctuary” principles.
As it happens, there’s this dam in California that is in danger of failing because California diverted money that was supposed to be used to fix it decades ago to other more immediate political needs, like social welfare programs. The Oroville dam is the tallest dam in the U.S. and it impounds more than 3.5 million acre-feet of water. One acre-foot of water will cover one acre of ground one foot deep. It’s the second-largest man-made lake in the state of California and is an essential part of California’s water storage and delivery system. Failure of this dam would be catastrophic to towns downriver. Tens of thousands of people could die and billions in property damage could result.
Days after Governor Brown declared in a Khruschev-channeling diatribe that “California is not turning back. Not now, not ever” with respect to giving sanctuary to illegal aliens that was missing only the shoe-pounding of the lectern, he came begging for federal disaster relief funds to help the cash-strapped California budget with the costs of the evacuation of some 200,000 people and the costs of rehabilitating the damaged dam. President Trump approved federal disaster relief funds yesterday, but he should have taken a page from Michelle Obama’s playbook and put conditions on that grant.
What he should have done, and should do in the future with any federal grants to California is not to deny federal grants, but rather to offer them but condition those grants upon Governor Brown and the California Legislature utterly repudiating their insurrectionist notions of “sanctuary cities” or of making California a “sanctuary state” that harbors illegal aliens in defiance of federal immigration law. If California fails to cooperate fully in federal immigration actions then it has to immediately pay back every penny of every federal grant it gets into the indefinite future.
It’s a big dam carrot and it will let us know just how dedicated to their insurrectionist notions the Governor and state legislature actually are, because they will be dammed if they do and damned if they don’t.
Let’s force Governor Brown and the politicians in Sacramento to explain to the people of California why taxpayers have to fork over billions more in taxes to pay for the state’s liberal social welfare policies now that they can’t get federal grants to cover them because liberal progressives want to shelter illegal aliens from lawful federal immigration policies rather than take federal money.
Let’s see if Governor Brown is willing to fall on that particular sword or whether he’s going to hold himself accountable for looking after the interests of all Californians and comply with federal immigration law.