Rand Paul Revives “Nullification” From The Pre Civil War Years

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, obviously planning to run for President in 2016, is throwing down the gauntlet to President Obama, stating that he believes that the President is acting as if he is a King or monarch, and saying that any executive orders that the President issues on guns will be “nullified” by Congress.

There are a number of problems about this assertion by Rand Paul.

By bringing up “nullification”, he is forgetting that the Civil War was fought over precisely that issue, the concept of states rights, that a state could nullify laws or actions of the federal government. And that viewpoint lost the war!

Also, what does Rand Paul think he is going to do, other than “grandstand” to win the support of the extreme right wing in the Republican Party? There is no way that he or the Congress could “nullify” Presidential actions, particularly with a divided Congress and a Democratic controlled Senate.

Of course, Paul or someone else could move to impeach the President, and that could actually happen on totally flimsy grounds in the Republican controlled House of Representatives. But the ability to remove the President is less than zero, as without more than 45 Republicans in the US Senate, and the impossibility of gaining 67 votes for conviction and removal, all that Paul is doing is roaring like a “paper tiger”, making a lot of noise, gaining a lot of publicity, none of it flattering, and only stirring up further polarization and conflict.

Rand Paul, as many realize, is a nightmare, who will plague the Republican race for President in 2016; will never become the nominee of the party; and were he to do so, he would take the party and its future down with him.

Face the facts: Rand Paul is nutty, whacky, loony, and his libertarian and isolationist views will never carry the day in a national election!

16 comments on “Rand Paul Revives “Nullification” From The Pre Civil War Years

  1. Ali Rahnavard January 17, 2013 8:23 pm

    Well Professor this is not at all surprising to me seeing as how the Grand Old Party long ago went senile and are now in the final stages of dementia, unable to recognize the people they serve or remember this is not the 1800’s lol

  2. Tom Woods January 21, 2013 9:57 am

    This post simply repeats long-exploded claims. Why progressives think nationalism is a progressive force is completely beyond me.

    Here are answers to everything you’ve said. No one has ever refuted this. See if you can: http://www.libertyclassroom.com/objections

  3. Ronald January 21, 2013 10:27 am

    I am aware of who you are, and respect your viewpoint, but do not see it as a repudiation of the idea that nullification is not an acceptable alternative in the 21st century. Thanks, however, for your input. I appreciate it!

  4. Tom Woods January 21, 2013 1:20 pm

    How does the number of the century we’re in bear on the question? We’ve decided that a single, indivisible power center, a la Hobbes, exercising inconceivable power is the best way to organize society? What made us decide that? The way this institution is so honest with us when it bombs people and spies on us? The way this institution would never, ever compromise civil liberties, or incarcerate members of suspicious racial groups? The way this institution tosses kids into cages for victimless offenses, while creating a police state in the process?

    You’re right. In the 21st century we couldn’t dream of challenging a benign institution like this. Down with the naysayers! Shut up and obey, citizen!

  5. Ronald January 21, 2013 1:46 pm

    I am NOT saying that, Tom. I am saying that the history of state and local governments proves much greater violations of civil liberties and civil rights, and the level of corruption is far greater than national government. I am also critical of past violations by the federal government, but I do not see state and local governments as being better than the record of national government. It is good to be critical and to hold ALL governments’ feet to the fire, but state and local governments have been horrific in American history in guaranteeing a better life for all of our citizens. Be always cautious about any government, but I have greater trust, based on history, with the national government. But we can disagree agreeably, and that is the greatness of America!

  6. Mike January 21, 2013 3:42 pm

    Ronald, based on what history would you have greater faith in the Federal Government than the states or local governments? While neither has been exemplary, it is the scale of damage that the Federal Government can do that tips the scales.

    Federal Government programs have been disastrous. From fugitive slave acts, to the corporatist regulatory state, to internment of the Japanese, to making war on its own people, to prohibition, the drug war, the Federal Government’s history is absolutely disastrous. One could go on and on with the crimes against the people committed by the Federal Government. The actual history does not back up your assertion.

    Now this is not to defend the state governments, but if they are to have a use, then it is to protect the people from an overreaching Federal Government. But that’s not how you see it, in your vision, the state while flawed, answers to no one. If you have a problem, you sue the Federal Government in a court run by… the Federal Government. Or you can wait for the next election, and hope that the party which gave you the violation loses, and hope that the new party will decide to change it.

    If only there was another way…

  7. Klingon January 21, 2013 6:47 pm

    “Ronald on January 21, 2013 at 1:46 pm said:

    I am NOT saying that, Tom. I am saying that the history of state and local governments proves much greater violations of civil liberties and civil rights, and the level of corruption is far greater than national government.”

    Professor, um, with all due respect, NO State govt has ever bombed the shit out of MidEast, Central Asia, SE Asia, Africa, S. America, nor waged direct economic welfare via Wall St. Bankster cronies, though certainly there are statist authoritarians in govt at all levels.

    What ‘history’ of relative benign “national government” are you exactly referring to?

    By the way, professor, technically we do NOT have a “national government;” we have a federal govt, which originates from the Latin rootword “Foedus” which means a compact, or a contract.

    The People formed the State govt, and the People’s representatives in the State govt formed the Federal Govt.

    Just because you’re caught in the last 5 seconds in a car decelerating, careening toward a wall at 135mph does not mean you’ve been in motion all your life, or will be; just because we’ve had authoritarian statists take over all levels of govt, especially after FDR packed the SCOTUS with his own private cadre, does not make timelessly principled moral, or lawful Constitutional arguments moot.

    You want to know why most people view the political class with less respect than cockroaches? Because ‘intelligent’ people LIE, all the time. First it starts out as a minor justification for ‘your’ guy, later it devolves into a full blown Stockholm Syndrome.

    Now, it’d be one thing IF what you believe and want out of govt bears true, but more importantly for you, works. But facts all state otherwise.

    Just because a truck is not rolling up to your abode to haul you off to Auschwitz, for now, does not negate the fact that when a former Constitutional REPUBLIC degrades into allowing TSA porn-grope/rape, warrantless spying, secret/indef.detention, torture, suspension of habeas corpus, Obama’s continuation & expansion of EVERY SINGLE warcrimes committed under GWB regime, to now drone murders, NDAA, what possible moral or reality justification can you give any critical thinker and students of history, that your ‘idea’ of what this “national govt” is supposed to be, does not reflect a full-blown policestate?

    Seriously, does a tyrannical state that has the gall to pass a law that states that a President, on his sole sayso can designate anyone a “terrorist” fit for state-sanctioned murder, assassination, torture, and secret & indefinite detention?

    A decade from now, if we point out these same facts and same policies continue, regardless of who the president is, will you chide those of us as “historical revisionists,” then too, as you seem to be doing your best to malign the legitimate legal doctrine of nullification?

    Just WTF do you suppose Washington & Colorado just did on recreational marijuana legalization, against the wishes of the Federal Govt mandate?

    Yes, that would be called a nullification. But since it’s only pot and you love the idea of legalizing it, let’s not call a spade, a spade, eh?

    THIS, is why no “left” or “right” “intellectuals” have any credibility since GWB, and oBUSHma regime. Why to so many youths turn to voluntaryism and libertarian philosophers, activists, and intellectual?

    Principled Consistency.

    Perception IS ‘reality’… to the ignorant masses.

  8. Ronald January 21, 2013 7:52 pm

    I can sympathize with both of you with your criticisms, and I am the first to condemn abuses of power, but in a measured way when we face the dangers of terrorism all around the world. If our federal government does not protect us from attack, nothing else really matters, now does it? We will never have a libertarian government that will pursue the kind of idealism that you profess. Rand Paul is not the answer, and neither is any other libertarian view, which is good for debate, but not for the real world.

    You accuse FDR of fixing the Courts, when he simply made changes when vacancies occurred, so I could accuse Nixon and Reagan of doing the same thing, but that is our system of government.

    States do not conduct foreign policy, but the way they have treated African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, women, and Jews and Catholics, historically, does not recommend them as better than federal initiatives on civil rights.

    And by the way, I do not think legalization of pot is a good idea, but at the same time, do not think imprisonment of people for possession should be promoted, as it has been
    the cause of destruction of too many lives without just cause.

    Our federal government has made mistakes and blunders in the past, but we are free to point that out, and to make amends. And it takes a President who, despite much criticism, is not out to promote loss of freedom and liberty, but must protect the nation from attack, and therefore, bigger government intrusion is unavoidable, as to fail at public safety would be far more disastrous to the nation at large.

  9. Ty January 21, 2013 11:12 pm

    Jefferson Davis condemned nullification in his farewell speech to the U.S. Senate, so its a stretch to claim the Civil War was fought over nullification.

    But even if it was, does a war decide an argument? Does a fight decide a disagreement? I find that viewpoint grotesque.

  10. TD January 21, 2013 11:14 pm

    Ronald, while I disagree with you, let me start by saying I appreciate your temperament in this comments section. Many in this situation (including and even especially your fellow academics) would already be flying off the handle at the influx of opposing commenters.

    That said: I’m curious if you’ve seen Woods’ blog item responding to your post (http://www.tomwoods.com/blog/shock-the-progressive-professor-opposes-nullification/ ), particularly his rebuttal to your point about the Civil War.

    It seems these debates often get tangled between normative and positive arguments. I think it’s important to distinguish them. Sure, in some practical sense, might makes right: Nationalism won the Civil War, and so OK — your side triumphed. If all of human endeavor is to boil down to who/whom, as Stalin put it, then there you go: You’re “right”; you had the might.

    But I don’t think that’s the actual question on the table. What’s actually being asked is whether might OUGHT to make right: Where OUGHT sovereignty lie? How OUGHT political power be distributed? How did the Constitution — that compact — intend it to be distributed?

    To point to a war outcome as the definitive answer is to evade this normative question altogether.

  11. rs January 22, 2013 3:30 am

    ‘We’ll never ever EVER have a libertarian (or Constitutional in other words) government’, says the prog. professor. Which is why he has to keep reassuring everybody, including himself of this. Because he knows there’s no danger of it happening. Ever. Never ever.

    It’s good to know the statist leftists are already feeling the need to push for phony neocons like Christie to get the 2016 nomination. Jeez, we’re four years away, Ronald! Why don’t you just enjoy the inauguration of four more years of your current statist bomb-everyone commander in chief? Relax!

    As was pointed out, yes, we don’t have a “national” government by the way, and never have and never will (never ever!) no matter “what century” we’re in. We have a federal govt. There’s a difference. Do you lefties even read the Federalist papers and the debates they had w/the Anti-Federalists when yer getting your PhD’s in history, or is it all dialectical this and post-structural that now in the sea of marxist garbage? One would hope all PhDs know what our govt is properly called, but sadly that seems a bridge too far.

  12. cathy January 22, 2013 3:41 am

    “…when we face the dangers of terrorism all around the world. ”

    omg, omg, OMG. OK your demonstrably silly statements about the feds being less abusive than the state/local gov’t were bad enough but THIS takes the cake. That anyone passing for a sentient adult could for one second even entertain the idea that the USG is in the business of protecting us from “terrism” while it is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that the USG is the very font of terrorism ALL AROUND THE WORLD is beyond amazing. But, that’s it! You’re not a sentient being. Your must be one of those newfangled AI software packages that spits out programmed platitudes and mainstream opinions from a database. Listen, I know a good software engineer who can correct your bugs. Just send me an email…

  13. cathy January 22, 2013 4:02 am

    Watch this, and do some research into what he says. You’ve got a lot to learn, prof

  14. tanstaafl72555 January 22, 2013 4:51 am

    It is old. It can’t be true.

    Honest to God, is that the best you can do?

  15. Joshua Holmes January 22, 2013 8:15 am

    Wait, you don’t think legalization is a good idea, but you also don’t want marijuana possession to be illegal? That’s a rather confusing position.

  16. Ronald January 22, 2013 9:28 am

    Joshua, I do not wish to see people in prison for possession or sale of marijuana, as it ruins their lives, and is not, in my mind, a criminal offense that should be filling up our prisons, and forcing many people, who have committed serious crimes, to be paroled early. But I also think it is not a good idea to legalize it and promote it. The less escape from reality the better is my view.

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