For the slower (willfully and not) people out there, the rhetoric about protecting the innocent states from the all-powerful federal government—rhetoric that would have basically every stalwart Republican and Libertarian out there pumping his fist in solidarity—is referencing Alabama’s “right” to prevent black people from voting, with violence if necessary.
It’s important to have long memories, because the language about “small government” and “states rights” is with us today, and there’s no reason to think the basic meaning has changed significantly from the days when it was about stopping black people from voting. “States rights” dresses itself up as anti-tyrannical language, but it’s actually pro-tyranny.
It’s about crafting a nation that makes it the easiest to use government power to override individual rights. Remember this picture every time you hear someone waxing on about the inherent nobility of “leaving it to the states”, because odds are they’re beating the same drum they have since the South lost their war to preserve slavery. (emphasis added)
Criticisms of states rights don't bother me, but the fact it comes from a liberal blogger who makes a couple of points that rub me the wrong way, I thought I'd comment:
The image of libertarians (perhaps the paleos notwithstanding) marching in unison with Republicans celebrating the "right of the state" to initiate force to oppress the rights of it citizens is patently absurd to the point of sheer ignorance. Of course, the recent association of libertarianism with many of these elements may have crossed her mind when she wrote this. Perhaps I did not concern myself with this issue as much as others did. Last night, I was not willing to give the benefit of the doubt on this point, but I think I will. That said, it's still horrifically wrong and I think some people in the comments section at Pandagon have pointed that out.
Of course, I am more than a bit tickled by the underlined sentence because you know, only people that believe in states rights and people that are far-right wing religious wingnuts are the only ones who would ever consider using government to "override" individual rights. Progressives were more than complicit in using the power of state governments to infringe upon an individual's liberty to contract*.
Furthermore, let us not allow Marcotte's criticisms of the doctrine of states rights to mask the Progressive disdain for federalism. Let's remember that the next time someone waxes poetic about those waxing poetic about "leaving it to the states".