There was a time when true conservatives lamented the loss of the Constitution's Tenth Amendment. Somehow, as the civil rights of blacks took center stage and became the one and only Holy Cause of the nation, the right of individual states to exert political power on their own became an almost immoral idea.
Now, Pat Buchanan comes along ["Armistice in the Culture War?," The American Conservative, July 17, 2006] and proposes that which so many of us have mused over -- that each of the 50 states be allowed once again to operate under the will of their respective residents. Buchanan suggests that such a move is the only way out of this culture war that keeps Americans shouting at one another. Why not "rediscover the lost road to the states' rights nation" originally intended by Madison and Jefferson, Buchanan asks, and writes:
We need to look reality in the eye. America is no longer a moral community. We no longer agree on what is right and wrong, good and evil. The cultural revolution of the 1960s, while igniting the political counterrevolution that Nixon and Reagan rode to 49-state landslides, has by now occupied the commanding heights of academia, the arts, the media, and the popular culture. . . .
Consider the possibilities of a states' rights resolution of the issues that most bitterly divide us. Mississippi might outlaw almost all abortions, end forced busing for racial balance, forbid reverse discrimination against white folks, enact a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman, allow Bible instruction, prayer, and posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools, and outlaw X-rated movies in all theaters. Mississippians could create the society they want, according to values in which a majority of Mississippians believe.
The same with the Big Apple. If they want to legalize lap dancing and ban smoking in every bar, that is their business. But Big Apple values could no longer be imposed on Utah or Wyoming. . . .
With a return to states' rights, the social and moral issues could be decided either by state referenda or elected representatives who could be voted out of office every two years. Society would be shaped according to the values of the people of the community, region, or state.
And, one might add, if a state's residents opted for unlimited immigration from any country under the sun, let them have it. Whereas, another state could declare itself off-limits to any and all prospective immigrants, or off-limits only to particular ones from particular countries. Wouldn't that kind of choice raise the hackles on liberals! However, before becoming dismayed, they should consider that states could legalize abortion, homosexual marriage, preferential policies for their favorite ethnic/gender groups, and so forth.