Member Rara Avis
Sovereign doesn't mean strongest or best, Ron. It means independent. Strongest or best, "might makes right" is a misunderstanding of the concept of sovereignty. We're talking about two differnt things.
No, Denise, we're not.
The kind of absolute sovereignty you propose cannot exist in the absence of absolute strength. Anything less is simply forbearance, not sovereignty. You pretty much said it yourself, after all: "You either fight to maintain it, or you relinquish it."
That the federal government has abused the limited powers enumerated to it by the states, to provide for the common defense, and to promote the general welfare, says more, I think, about the misuse of that entrustment, and how easily it can occur, than it does about the possibility of a successful voluntary alliance among sovereign entities, as envisioned by the founders.
Your own words, Denise, not only belie the existence of a Federal government as a contradiction of each state's absolute sovereignty, but also predict the very history you choose to condemn. "You can't have degrees of sovereignty," you said. "You either have it or you don't."
The individual states don't have the sovereignty you advocate, and even more importantly, no one in their right mind would ever want them to be so wholly independent of each other. Do you really think Pennsylvania would be better off if it completely controlled its own destiny? Do you really believe "mutual regard and respect for the sovereign rights of others" would have resulted in the same Pennsylvania you live in today? I think you have to ask yourself if Pennsylvania is better or worse for having been a part of a greater whole. You ready to secede from the Union?
The erosion of state rights was a natural and predictable consequence of a quest for the common good. We might well argue over what IS in the common good, and it's not at all surprising that Pennsylvania would have a different take than Texas (another state that would kick your butts royally, by the way), but that's a very different argument than whether the common good should be sought.
Your own arguments, Denise, put you in the position of either advocating the abolishment of the U.S. government in favor of state sovereignty or the establishment of a corresponding World government to the inevitable detriment of national sovereignty. You can't logically have it both ways.
If we look a little deeper, of course, we'll discover a greater truth.
You really don't like the fact that California, with its very different culture, can and often does shape the destiny of Pennsylvania through Federal influence. Understandable, to be sure. In spite of your discomfort, however, you accept that it's in your long-term best interest to cooperate with, and sometimes bend to the will of, other states under a strong Federal government. California is different, with different best interests, but you realize they're less different than they are the same. Yea for you.
What you don't seem to accept is that what is true of California is equally true of France, Germany, and even Iran. The differences are surely greater, but the commonalities still vastly outweigh those differences. People are people.
Sovereignty, when all is said and done, is just a word to describe a fear of differences.
As to your example of Pennsylvania and New York, I would think it follows suit that as in the case of individuals, one's rights legitimately end at the other fellow's nose, and vice-versa, and that any disagreements concerning conflicting interests should be worked out among the representatives, empowered by the people of those states, in an attempt to resolve any conflicting interests.
You mean like we did with Iraq?
He was an illegitimate leader, as he neither represented nor defended anyone's rights or interests but his own personal tyrannical interests, and was not only a threat to the welfare of his own people but also to every other nation's welfare as well.
Careful with your pronouns there, Denise. For a minute, I thought you were talking about Bush.
Surely, you have to realize that your exact words can be used by many to describe the current U.S. administration? You don't have to agree with them, of course, but it won't matter because you just opened the door to a justifiable invasion of your own country. You just defined sovereignty as something based on opinion.
Am I being true to form or running from the issue to argue that sovereignty isn't as simple as people think?
Good article, Brad. Of course sovereignty isn't simple, though I might argue that it should be simple.
Like the tooth fairy or the boogeyman, sovereignty is a mechanism to explain real-world phenomena in the simplest possible way. That doesn't necessarily mean that baby teeth or fear of the dark are simple, of course.
And, of course, like the tooth fairy and the boogeyman, sovereignty is a myth that can exist only in the superlative and only in the transitive.