What would y’all say are some of the most controversial, divisive political topics in the United States?
Really, I am asking and would love to hear from you.
I’ll discuss a few topics here that I believe stir up some of the most profound angst.
Abortion, marriage law and sexuality, race, guns… to name a few.
These issues seem to always trigger an emotional response. Bring them up and people are ready to fight.
Here’s the thing though. For the first 175 years of American history, these topics were not considered political topics (aside from guns obviously).
How many of these topics does the Constitution talk about?
NONE. (Yes, the Bill of Rights mentions guns, but in the enumerated powers of the Constitution, everything NOT mentioned is left to the states and guns are NOT mentioned, hence, laws that would deal with guns, ammunition and the like have no place in federal politics)
If these topics were considered political topics, they were exclusively state issues. And this is the point I really want to hone in on in today’s post.
And what I explain today is why I don’t spend much time discussing these controversial topics. My personal opinion on them really means nothing when it comes to federal politics. My personal convictions on these issues don’t change the simplicity of their place in American politics according to the Constitution. In fact, if I do talk about them as if they are federal issues, I end up perpetuating the very unconstitutional federal actions I’m working to prevent.
State Politics Differs Greatly from Federal Politics
For those of you who’ve been reading my work for a while now, you know that the number of topics the federal government can make laws about is very limited. It’s limited to a few very broad over-arching topics like war, taxes, patents and the like.
Issues that deal in the private sphere, like sexuality, marriage, abortion, healthcare, business regulation, guns and the like are all left to the states. Each state is much better equipped to make laws that affect these issues since each state legislature is much more directly connected to its citizenry.
Politics has always been divisive in the United States. That’s what happens when people are free to express what they think or feel about something. That’s always what happens when people are invested in their country and the government their country has. It’s also what happens when the people play a significant role in the way the country’s government operates.
However, the divisiveness of the past had a different tone since the debated topics were not private but public issues. Meaning, should the government have a national bank? Is that Constitutional? Is the government overstepping its power by regulating this or that commerce? How is the government going to solve the issue of large monopolies and the like? It wasn’t, should the government prevent state laws that prevent certain people from legally marrying?
Get that? The Supreme Court has had a say in all of these issues. And the say they had was simple: the federal government trumps the state government on a certain issue and can therefore tell the state that law X or law Y is unconstitutional and therefore illegal.
The Supreme Court didn’t suddenly make abortion legal for everyone, or suddenly make gay marriage ok, or suddenly make racial discrimination non-existent. It simply told states that states could no longer make laws that prevented abortion, gay marriage and the like.
The problem is: these issues are NOT federal issues and by stepping in and making a decision about these controversial subjects, the federal government made them federal issues.
State Issues Should Stay State Issues
These issues SHOULD be debated and contested in the states. Each state has a different citizenry and each citizenry feels and thinks differently about these issues. If state wants tighter marriage law, then they decide to have tighter marriage law, so on and so forth.
Consider gun laws. When states pass laws that gun rights activists consider to be too stringent, instead of immediately running to the federal government (who didn’t pass the law), they should turn to their state government and their state Constitution. Most state Second Amendments are much tighter on government then the federal Second Amendment. The state government needs to face and reckon with how it’s violated its own Constitution rather than be forced by the federal government to follow the federal Constitution. Remember (aside from selective incorporation which you can read about here), states can’t violate the federal Constitution. The federal Constitution is the federal government’s job description NOT the states’ job description.
If the federal government passed a law that infringed on our gun rights, THEN we’d have a reason to appeal to the federal Constitution.
And yet, we keep appealing to the federal government to impose itself on the states and make state level issues, national issues. This merely grows federal power and weakens state power. It would be far more healthy and better for liberty if we were having all of the debates about controversial issues–within state borders.
That’s where these controversial issues belong.
Friends, we validate the idea that these controversial issues belong on the federal level every time we appeal to the federal government to handle them. This may be hard to wrap your head around and I know that some of you may be thinking, but, abortion is murder, shouldn’t murder be a federal crime?
If you notice, the Constitution gives the federal government no power to deal with crime outside of counterfitting and piracy. ALL crime was supposed to be handled and left to the states (Read this article for more details). We have to step back from the emotions of the topics and objectively consider their place in the realm of politics according to the given job description of government.
Very literally. Most, if not ALL, of the HOT topics should not even be in the national discussion. They are not part of the federal government’s job.
So, we need to stop putting them there.
The Liberty Belle