The New York Times reports today of a growing (if likely largely symbolic – but perhaps not entirely so) “States Rights” movement that is moving both Right- and Left- leaning State Houses to assert their sovereignty in the face of federal encroachment. A growing interest in the Madisonian-Jeffersonian action of “nullification” (originally defended by these statesmen against the vile “Alien and Sedition” Act), in which a State government can declare an federal act to be unconstitutional or inapplicable to the State.

Elsewhere, Sean Scanlon reports on the overwhelming response to efforts in Wisconsin to permit the sale of “raw milk,” that is, milk that has not been processed with methods of Pasteurization and Homogenization (these two processes, in a nutshell, might be seen as representing modernity itself – a process of killing off what we regard to be harmful in nature without awareness of destruction we do to nature and to ourselves, and the effort to reduce natural diversity to a homogenous, standardized and predictable mass. At his lecture at Georgetown two weeks ago, farmer Joel Salatin had choice words about Pasteur and his indiscriminate hatred of germs, and the modern avoidance of thinking holistically of ways that we could strengthen the human organism rather than simply trying to kill off germs.). Scanlon writes of a fascinating coalition of “organic farmer hippies with dreadlocks and pierced noses sitting next to rock-ribbed, Republican farmer Oles and Lenas” – what we’d like to think is a kind of “Front Porch” coalition that is gaining traction in light of the bankruptcy of today’s Left and Right.

Averting our eyes for a moment from the pre-orchestrated wrestling match that is the Washington D.C.-choreographed administrative State, there are interesting things happening out there in the provinces. From there – and not from the Center – interesting possibilities are a-borning.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar John Médaille March 17, 2010 at 8:36 am

If a president can “nullify” laws in his signing statements, I don’t see why a state governor can’t do the same. In any case, states will have to nullify more and more laws. It’s the opening stage of the breakup of an entity too big to fail. Or to succeed.

avatar D.W. Sabin March 17, 2010 at 8:56 am

Every Federal Encroachment is countered by an equal Federal Abandonment

avatar Steve K. March 17, 2010 at 2:44 pm

John,

“It’s the opening stage of the breakup of an entity too big to fail. Or to succeed.” Too big to succeed – that is very astute. Of all my years working in DOD, the sheer size of the bureaucracy is the greatest driver of waste and failure.

avatar Daniel McCarthy March 17, 2010 at 9:53 pm
avatar Patrick J. Deneen March 17, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Sorry, Dan, I’d meant and thought I’d linked it, mea culpa. I’ve link it as well directly in the piece, above. There was certainly no intent to slight the fine work at TAC!

avatar Daniel McCarthy March 18, 2010 at 1:57 pm

No trouble at all — thanks for mentioning the story.

avatar Sean Scallon March 19, 2010 at 10:02 am

Thanks for the kind words Pat!

avatar Bob Cheeks March 19, 2010 at 11:05 am

Ironically, the much abused concepts of “states rights” and nullification may be those instruments that save whatever is left of republicanism in America. Perhaps, Robert E. Lee was right, Virginia was his country.

avatar Steve K. March 19, 2010 at 12:58 pm

And what a fine country she is, Mr. Cheeks!

avatar Bob Cheeks March 20, 2010 at 9:39 am

Great minds think alike, Steve K.

avatar James Kabala March 21, 2010 at 6:08 pm

It would be nice if either this article or Scallon’s provided evidence of the dangers of pasteurization and the advantages of raw milk. I’m willing to be convinced, but I would like to hear some evidence. I can never figure out why so many Front Porchers and Crunchy Cons expect their arguments to be accepted without question and take any request for further information or hard data as a sign of venality.

avatar Patrick J. Deneen March 21, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Mr. Kabala,

There is a wealth of information about the benefits of raw milk on the internet. I could recommend some sites for you, but they are readily available with a simple search (e.g., try googling “benefits of raw milk”), and I don’t want to deprive you of the independent and hardy exercise of doing it for yourself.

Beyond that, the point of Scallon’s piece wasn’t to discuss the health benefits of raw milk per se, but to point out an interesting (and I think, promising) coalition in a number of areas that is combining those on the notional Right and those on the notional Left. In your indignant demand for facts, you seemed to have missed the meaning.

avatar James Kabala March 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm

True, but there are also many sites promoting the view that (as Wikipedia puts it) “[s]ome of the diseases that pasteurization can prevent are diphtheria, salmonellosis, strep throat, scarlet fever, listeriosis, brucellosis, and typhoid fever.” What reasons cause you to find the anti-pastuerization arguments more convincing?

That is the Achilles’ heel of this site, in my opinion. It is pretty clear that over the last few centuries moral health has gone down and physical health has gone up. When this site argues that moral health is more important and some sacrifice of physical health and convenience may be necessary to improve moral health, it makes good points. When it tries to argue that physical health has not really improved, it enters “Are you going to believe me or your own eyes?” territory, even if (for all I know) it is right in this particular case. (And if even Pasteur is a villain, is any scientist a hero?)

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