Power and prerogatives.
The revival of the states in American civics.
One of the most consequential developments in modern American civics unfolded last week — or, more properly, continued its unfolding. As usual, most media either ignored it, or was intellectually unequipped to grasp its significance. If you read about it at all, you probably read a report written under the lens of immigration and border policy, and refracted through the domestic politics of both. But this lens obscures the real picture at hand: a historic and slow-moving realignment between the American federal government and the states, that may in time return us to something pre-Progressive in the powers and prerogatives exercised by both.
One’s politics are betrayed by the reaction to the preceding sentence.
If you haven’t been following the efforts of the Governor of Texas to compel the federal government to meet its responsibilities on border security and immigration, and to have the state act where they won’t, you ought to. Whatever your views on the topic — and immigration as such is not what this edition of Armas is about — the process at hand is exceptionally interesting, and portentous. (By way of full disclosure, my own view rests upon the premise that the Mexican state writ large is the ultimate source of iniquity here, both through its inability and positive unwillingness to exercise its own sovereignty; all policy conclusions flow from this.) The Texas Governor’s approach in the past week has been to do something most state governors won’t: exercise the full extent of their own sovereign powers under the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
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