Day after day, the media pounds out a relentless drumbeat against nullification.
Pundits, commentators and so-called legal experts demonize it as unconstitutional, villainize it as racist and trivialize it with slurs like “wacky” and “kookie.”
But while the political class continues to arrogantly ridiculeMadison and Jefferson’s principles, everyday Americans embrace them in increasing numbers.
A Rasmussen poll released Monday indicates that nullification is growing more and more popular in mainstream America. Pollsters found 38 percent support states taking actions to “block” federal acts that restrict the right to keep and bear arms. Less than half (45 percent) oppose blocking these unconstitutional federal acts.
Even more revealing: more people than not approve of nullification in general.
“On the general question of ‘nullification,’ 44 percent believe states should have the right to block any federal laws they disagree with on legal grounds. Thirty-six percent disagree and 20 are undecided,” pollsters said.
Digging into the numbers, we find even broader support for nullification where it really counts – on Main Street.
A majority of everyday politically engaged Americans support the general principle of nullification. According to the Rasmussen poll, 52 percent of mainstream voters think states should have the right to block any federal laws they disagree with on legal grounds.
Think about it. Even enduring constant demonization from the mainstream media and the political elite, most average American voters approve of nullification efforts.
“People are finally starting to understand and accept the concept of decentralization. Our message is mainstream now and we have hard data to prove it,” Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center state chapter coordinator Lesley Swann said.
So, where does the vast majority of opposition to nullification come from?
The political class.
You know, the guys calling it “ludicrous” and “demented.”
Seventy-four percent of those polled identifying with the political class oppose nullification. Of course, most of those folks don’t even think anything warrants nullifying. A whopping 80 percent of the political class indicated they think the government operates within constitutional limits. A majority (56 percent) of mainstream voters disagree with their assessment.
Note the term used: block. In other words, a majority of everyday Americans believe states can interpose (verb; be an obstacle to, BLOCK, break into, come between, force in, hinder, impede, infiltrate, infringe, inject, insert, intercalate, intercede, intercept, interfere, interject, intermeddle, intermediate, interrupt, intervene, introduce, intrude, mediate, obstruct, obtrude, parenthesize, penetrate, place between, prevent, put in, stand in the way, thrust in) to stop unconstitutional federal act.
Of course, James Madison made that case more than 200 years ago.
That in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.
It seems the ideas of Madison and Jefferson have come back into their own.
And polling indicates that many who don’t necessarily embrace nullification still believe in decentralizing power, and devolving authority back to the states and the people where the founders intended, at least when it comes to firearms regulation. According to the poll, 49 percent think it should be a state or local issue. That includes 34 percent who think state governments should determine gun ownership rules and 15 percent who think local governments should handle that responsibility.
Some might find it tempting to turn the polling results into a partisan issue. After all, Republicans were far more likely to indicate support for blocking acts violating the second amendment and generally believe the federal government fails to remain constitutionally restrained. In fact, the poll indicates 64 percent of Democrats believe the federal government does operate within its constitutional limits, while 61 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of unaffiliated voters do not.
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Of course, the exact opposite was undoubtedly the case during the G.W. Bush years.
And when it comes to certain issues, even Democrats jump on the nullification train. According to a Pew Research poll released last month, 59 percent of Democrats say that the federal government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that permit its use. A full 60 percent of Americans believe states should remain free to make their own decisions on pot – no matter what the federal government happens to say.
So, the political class can continue right on with its hysterical hyperbole. Their panicked attempts to convince Americans that those of us who actually believe the federal government was intended to remain limited and think states can and should step up and hold them in check when they don’t clearly have failed to convince the rest of Americans.
Ladies and gentleman, nullification just became the majority opinion.
Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He also maintains the blog, Tenther Gleanings.
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