By Shelli Dawdy
Sovereignty…what does it really mean?
On April 13, 2010, the Nebraska Unicameral passed the State Sovereignty Resolution sponsored by Senator Tony Fulton (29). There was an energized effort to ensure the Resolution’s passage, including an overflow crowd at the Committee hearing in February and persistent contacts with legislators through its passage. Will the people of Nebraska continue to support Sovereignty? And what does that mean?
Some critics of the Sovereignty Resolution noted that it had no “teeth” – it was not a bill that would have the force of law. It’s true. The Resolution was a starting point, and unfortunately, a necessary one because our State legislators don’t often base their decisions on fundamental Constitutional principles.
The Resolution’s movement to the floor of the Unicameral means there was a debate about the meaning and intent of the Constitution, particularly the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and the proper role of the Federal government in Nebraska’s affairs. And that debate was a very good thing.
The question now is – will the passage of the Resolution be the end of the debate?
The Sovereignty Resolution can either be a philosophical exercise of little importance, or it can be a starting point. What happens next is up to the people in Nebraska who understand what Sovereignty really means. But do we?
Understanding that the relationship between the Federal government and the States is completely upside down means that our focus should turn where it properly belongs – within our state. That means largely shifting our attention away from events on the “National” scene to the places where the majority of the power is supposed to reside – again, within the State.
We cannot say that we want the State to exercise the Sovereignty articulated in the Tenth Amendment if we don’t know the people who are elected to office, monitor their activities regularly, or take action when necessary to point out how their decisions are not strengthening Nebraska’s sovereignty. If anyone thinks the passage of the Sovereignty Resolution means the apparent attitudes or actions of our elected officials or will change without further effort, they are sorely mistaken.
The more attention that is paid to the workings of Nebraska’s governmental entities, the clearer it becomes that we’re hurting our own ability to exercise sovereignty through the regular acceptance of Federal funding and the mandates that go along with them. It also becomes clearer that our elected officials are hearing regularly almost solely from special interest groups whose interests are more and bigger government.
Simple Answers…not easy, but simple
In a 1964 speech, Ronald Reagan said:
“They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”
The simple, right answer at this time will not be one you will hear coming from your television, from political parties, or the majority of national groups. And that’s why it’s not easy. It’s human nature to look around and see what others are doing and want to do the same. In advertising this is called “jumping on the bandwagon”.
We’re going to have to do what is not easy – join some of our fellow trail blazers who are not focused on national politics only, who don’t listen to sound-byte speeches, and don’t follow or accept top-down answers.
We’re going to have to roll up our sleeves, get our hands “dirty”, and step out of our comfort zones. It means less free time. That means spending time reading and researching about things that are happening in our local governments, attending “boring” meetings, and trying to get bureaucrats and politicians to give straight answers. We have to look people in the eye and draw a line in the sand, even when it gets uncomfortable. We have to work at reaching out to people all around us and try to change hearts and minds.
It’s not easy to do what you see few people doing. It’s not easy take firm stands at times. It’s not easy…but it is simple.
Note: I have already written a number of articles that are very much related to this subject and several more are on the way. If you are skeptical regarding my assertions about the lack of understanding among Nebraska’s elected officials on the subject of State Sovereignty, all you need do is dive in to the issue of Nebraska’s budget.
Here are a few of the past articles related to this topic: