If Senator Daniel Webster was correct in 1830, that our “consolidated union” was actually made whole by federal taxation and debt being owned by every state, then we must have the strongest union in the history of strong unions, Sampson and Delilah be shamed. Webster went so far as to praise taxes and debt as holy relics of our deified state, going so far as saying “to this species of consolidation every true American ought to be attached.”
This belief was restated 35 years later in the amendment that made every and any act between man, woman, and beast possible, indeed Constitutional — what I like to call the miracle amendment, number XIV. “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” Note that the entities guaranteeing, nay, pace Webster, adoring the debt are “the United States” as opposed to what author Tom Woods calls one “single blob” of America.
Had the framers of the miracle amendment wished to “consolidate” the Union they could have written “the public debt of America.” Tonight President Obama will deliver the annual spectacle of our own self-importance, the State of the Union address, but as we shall see, there is no longer a Union to report on the state of.
In George Washington’s first attempt at a State of the Union address, you need not read beyond paragraph one to understand the entities that made up our union and the role the new government played in that compact. After a salutation aimed at the new Senate and House of Representin‘, Washington wrote cheerfully of “The recent accession of the important state of North Carolina to the Constitution of the United States… [and] the general and increasing good will toward the government of the Union.” What does this tell us? Well, you can only “accede” to something by a voluntary act. Put another way, to accede is to “allow” meaning there is a choice in the matter where “decline” is what’s behind door number two. And to what has North Carolina acceded? “The government of the Union.”
Now you may ask, ‘Mike, why is this important?’ It is important because Washington had no power to extend over North Carolinians the benefits of something like “FatherOfOurCountryCare” until that state granted the authority, meaning the state owned the power. Thus the “Union” — Lincoln’s war notwithstanding — was and is what we, the people of the states, accede to. Will President Obama inform us of the “state” of the things we have acceded to? Or will he opt to continue the century-long practice of telling the American kingdom what some shall receive and what sacrifices will be required of others, whether they accede or not?
I could spend the next fortnight and sacrifice a forest of redwoods listing the legitimate acts of the states of the Union that have been, to use James Madison’s word “negatived,” by the administrations of Obama, Bush, Clinton, and on down. These are not the legitimate actions of the general government of the Union. Those are the actions of an imperial legislature that no longer acts as an agent carrying out a few “enumerated powers” or “things acceded to”, on behalf of its clients, the states.
“What are we then, Mike?” We are what all civilizations become without the written word of God and of natural law as their canon; a democracy. A nineteenth century statesman, A.P. Upshur, warned us of the excess of democracy in our Union that “the government becomes tyrannous and oppressive precisely in proportion as its democratic principle is extended.” Thus our partially elected Emperor will not be delivering a state of our affairs as a Union but will instead address his “fellow citizens,” a term Washington eschewed in the pedestrian sense. Instead he used similar language that a Union of sovereign entities would require: “Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives.”
If the concept behind the people practicing self- governance through their sovereign entities (the states) is to be revived, it will require finding some way to defeat both a debauched culture and government-by-plunder. Here are a few observations that may help: No one in Washington has the answer to any problem faced in Hooterville. Moral and spiritual leaders must emerge, regardless of what that does to your tax-exempt status. Finally, forget about “America the blob” and the ersatz patriotism that makes some willing to die for it. Our republic is under our feet, where our children were born. The right kind of patriam amamus comes from what it is, not what it does.
Mike Church is a radio host appearing daily on the SiriusXM Patriot Channel. He is an author and editor of “Patrick Henry-American Statesman” and is the writer and director of 7 Docudramas on American history including “The Spirit of ‘76” and the upcoming “Times That try Men’s Souls — Washington’s Crossing.”