Virginia GOP Blogger: "Do we want Virginia sovereignty or not?"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Over at leading pro-Bob McDonnell/Virginia Republican blog Bearing Drift, Steven Osborne has posted a diary with the seemingly innocuous title, "McDonnell vs. Deeds in Perspective". I started reading it expecting an analysis of the two candidates' relative strengths and weaknesses, their positions on the issues, their respective paths to victory in November, standard political analysis like that. I also was ready for usual Virginia Republican talking points about how Creigh Deeds (or any Democrat, for that matter) is a liberalliberalsocialistliberalsocialist who wants to raise your taxes, turn everyone into a sensitive tree hugger, allow women to keep deciding whether or not to have their babies, take away workers' god-given "right to work," etc. In other words, I expected the same old same old rhetoric about the same old same old issues. What I did not expect was this.
...The issue that really gets to the heart of this election is simple. Will our Commonwealth be sovereign?

The underlying issue is whether or not Virginia will continue to lose sovereignty to the federal government. The recent controversy over accepting certain stimulus funds, is a perfect example. Governor Kaine has, in many ways, sacrificed Virginia’s sovereignty.

The key question for our next governor is simple. Will you protect Virginia’s sovereignty. Virginia has an inherent and Constitutional right to access its own resources, yet certain Democrats in the state have tried to restrict Virginia’s accessing these resources. We also have an issue with the federal government continuing its power grab over the states.
That's right, everybody, the key question for all of us in 2009 is not the economy or jobs, transportation, education or energy. Nope, at least over at Bearing Drift, it's whether Virginia is "sovereign" or not. What is sovereignty? How about this definition?
Sovereignty is the exclusive right to exercise, within a specific territory, the functions of a Nation-state and be answerable to no higher authority.
That's right, apparently at least some Virginia Republicans believe that states like ours should be "answerable to no higher authority," including the government of the United States of America (you know, the one represented by a flag to which we pledge allegiance?). Hmmmm...didn't we fight a war over this very subject, and wasn't it settled once and for all back in 1865? I was a bit puzzled, so I emailed Ken "teacherken" Bernstein to ask him what he thought, and he responded as follows:
Mr. Osborne is rather weak on his constitutional reasoning, as is Mr. McDonnell. In any area where there is joint authority/sovereignty, that of the Federal government is superior, as defined in the Supremacy clause of Article VI. And given how conservative legal types belong to the Federalist Society, where they get John Marshall pins, I might point out that it was Federalist Chief Justice John Marshall who first established the broad reach of the Supremacy clause, in conjunction with the necessary and proper clause of Article I, Section 8, Clause 18, in McCulloch v Maryland.

This is probably political, hoping to position Virginia versus the Federal government to appeal to independents, many of whom have a libertarian streak. On the other hand, since Osborne is not being specific, I may be misreading. I think the two issues are:

1. The unemployment funds extension - conservatives were arguing not just in Virginia but elsewhere that this represented forcing the state to commit to funding the higher level out of its own funds in the future. In fact, the legislation required no such commitment;

2. Offshore drilling - Deeds has remained open, with two caveats, one that the science supports it, two that issues with the Federal government get resolved so that Virginia receives royalties from any recovered hydrocarbons. In fact, McDonnell and crew acquiescing to drill baby drill without getting the Federal commitment on royalties might be the ones surrendering Virginia sovereignty.
By the way, lest you think that Mr. Osborne's article was an isolated case, you might want to go back and look at video from the RPV convention a few weeks ago. One thing you'll notice is the widespread display of something called the Gadsden Flag:
The Gadsden Flag has been used throughout modern politics as a symbol of disagreement with the current governmment. This flag was most notably used during the Tea Party protests of 2009. The flag is often associated with the Right of revolution.

This current use of the flag has caught the government's attention. Some authorities now label the Gadsden flag as "Extremist". Reports from Louisiana say that a man was detained by police for driving with a "Don't Tread on Me" bumper sticker on his vehicle.
Fortunately, we all know that Virginia Republicans like Jeff Frederick, Ken Cuccinelli, Bob Marshall and Bob McDonnell are as far from "extremist" as can be. Don't we?

UPDATE: Aznew has some thoughts on the Bearing Drift article at his blog, Virginia Democrat.

UPDATE #2: Over at Blue Commonwealth, "The Donkey" makes a good point, that the Gadsden flag historically has been "a potent symbol of the importance of Unity among the states in the face of common challenges and threats." What's crucial, "The Donkey" adds, is that "we cannot let the Tea Partiers of the right gain a monopoly on this fabulous revolutionary standard (or any other part of our revolutionary heritage)." Unfortunately, in the last couple of years, they appear to have done so.