Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Federalism

Brexiteers are European Confederates

The murder of British MP Jo Cox at the hands of a Brexiteer has me thinking about my own country’s long and storied history of political violence. Most famously, my country ripped itself apart in a civil war over slavery. Of course, that’s not the way the supporters of the Confederate States of America (CSA) framed the conflict in their own minds. To them the civil war was a question of sovereignty. It’s easy to forget, especially if you’re from overseas, but the United States has always had a strong anti-federalist current which views the individual US states as genuinely sovereign entities, each participating in the federation on a voluntary, and ultimately revocable basis. This surfaces even today–during the 2014 midterm elections, US senate candidate Joni Ernst made open appeals to the concept of “nullification”, which holds that because the US states are sovereign they can invalidate federal law:

You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right…we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators—as senators or congressman—that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.

Ernst won that election by 9 points–she is a sitting US senator. US Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee made similar appeals during the Republican primaries, alleging that the states could nullify the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling. Increasingly the arguments we’re seeing for Brexit look an awful lot like American state sovereignty arguments. It may sound like an extreme comparison, but the parallels are remarkably strong.

Read the rest of this entry »

Misconceptions: The United States is Not “Too Big” to be More Like Denmark

Since the Democratic Party debate, folks have been talking about Bernie Sanders‘ desire to make the United States more like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. One of the most common responses to Sanders I’ve heard is the idea that the United States is too big to successfully imitate the Nordic countries. During the debate, Anderson Cooper himself said:

Denmark is a country that has a population — Denmark is a country that has a population of 5.6 million people.

I’ve seen the same thought echoed by many people, even people who are otherwise quite sympathetic to Sanders. This is very odd, because if we subject this thought to even the tiniest amount of scrutiny, it collapses.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is Horrible, but it’s No Coup: Why the Greek Deal is Democratic

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has betrayed the people of Greece by agreeing to the troika’s austerity demands. The deal is terrible and will unnecessarily inflict additional mass suffering on Greece’s unemployed (25%), youth unemployed (50%), and children living in poverty (40%). Many well-intentioned people have participated in the hashtag #ThisisaCoup, accusing the EU of overriding democracy. While I share the frustration and anger, it’s very important that we understand that this is precisely the way European voters insisted that policymakers design the European Union to work. It is the voters of Europe who have inflicted this travesty of justice upon the continent.

Read the rest of this entry »

Greece Should Dump the Euro

The Greek government has decided to hold a referendum on whether or not to agree to the austerity and neoliberal reforms demanded by the troika (the IMF, the ECB, and the EU). The Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has implied that if Greeks vote for austerity, he might resign. I’ve written about the negotiations between Greece and the troika in the past. Since then, events have unfolded and it’s now time for Greece to make good on its threat and dump the Euro. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Britain’s Broken Voting System

Today I’m once again continuing the Polished Politics series on YouTube, which offers my stuff in a more accessible, simpler format. Here’s the new video:

As always, I have the text version below for those who prefer reading to viewing, complete with links to sources.

Read the rest of this entry »