By Sam McLure
Alabama Political Report
Have you met the man who wears his underwear on his head? This may sound too absurd for a political periodical, but please stay with me. Fred is 40 years old and lives in his mother’s basement. She washes his clothes, makes him breakfast, and keeps the pantry stocked with his favorite food. All Fred’s mother asks of him is that when he leaves the house, he wears his underwear on his head.
What should Fred do?
When I asked this question to a few high school students, they promptly responded with answers like, “Fred should get a job and move out of his mother’s house.” That is the obvious answers.
However, the answer is not so obvious to the State of Alabama. The State of Alabama is beholden to the Federal Government the same way that Fred is beholden to his mother. Alabama ranks third in the country on the spectrum of State’s most dependent on the Federal Government. Alabama receives $8.4 billion from the Federal Government every year.
And what has the Federal Government asked for in return for their motherly care? Adherence to policies that are as repulsive and silly as a 40 year old man wearing underwear on his head.
What Federal-Government policies could be so onerous?
First, we must come to terms with this reality: the Federal Government controls every State in the Union and half the countries in the world by means of the carrot … not the stick, but the carrot. Take for example the 21 year old drinking age. The Federal Government told the states, if you raise your drinking age to 21, we will give you X dollars for highway development. For a long time, Louisiana held out with an 18 year limit, and their roads were sub par as compared to the rest of the country.
So, in 2016 when the (Federal) Department of Justice issued an “advisory” letter stating the schools should implement a certain transgender policy, the public school system began quaking in their boots. “We have to implement this policy,” many school administrators thought, “Otherwise, the Federal Government will pull their funding!” … and Fred strolls through the mall with underwear on his head.
For the last 44 years, the Federal Government has told the States, despite your fundamental duty to protect the poor and week from abuse and murder, you may not use your police powers to protect children until after they are born … and Fred jogs on the treadmill with underwear on his head.
Let’s pause here to consider that those who are usually prone to espouse discontent with an overreaching Federal Government may be holding their tongue now that Republicans retain power in the White House and Congress. This is a most dangerous turn of events. If the states, individually, will not hold the Federal Government’s power in check, then who will?
This is no new problem. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison articulated their concern for this problem in 1798 when they observed that the Federal Government is “prone to enlarge its powers through forced constructions of the Constitution”; meaning that if the Federal Government sits in judge over how much power it should have, it will always decide it should have more power.
Roe v. Wade, perhaps, stands as the clearest example of a “forced construction of the Constitution.” In the Federal Supreme Court’s abominable opinion, it stated that a privacy right, which inures to a right to kill pre-born children, was found in the “penumbras” of the Constitution. Do you know what “penumbras” means? It means, shadowing parts. If that is not a forced construction of the Constitution, I don’t know what is.
If we care about American Democracy, we must care about becoming financially independent from the Federal Government. While the Trump Administration may not impose policies that seem as onerous as a 40 year old man wearing underwear on his head (at least to conservatives), if we stand silent to Federal Government overreach in this hour, we will only empower tyranny in the future.
Fred needs to move out of his mother’s basement and stand on his own two feet. Alabama needs to break its addiction to Federal money and stand as a financially independent sovereign State. Only then can we break free from the shackles of Federal tyranny.