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Red-State Fascism Strikes Again: This Time in Nebraska and Oklahoma


Back in 2008, in response to the GOP rush to nominate future ISIS supporter John McCain, Lew Rockwell wrote "Triumph of the Red-State Fascists" in which he examined how the (alleged) opposition to big government on the American right always takes a back seat to militarism and the conservative knee-jerk support for heavy-handed government in the pursuit of "order." Rockwell writes: 

At the same time, the libertarianism of the GOP's domestic agenda was supplanted by a belief that "big government and domestic statism were perfectly acceptable, provided that they were steeped in some sort of Burkean tradition and enjoyed a Christian framework." Fiery individualism and radicalism were replaced by a longing for a static, controlling elite of the European sort. Liberty was washed away.

That was fifty years ago. Today the same priorities abound on the Right: first, nationalism and empire, and, second, longing for order in the domestic area. The switch from anti-Communist militarism to anti-Islamic imperialism was not difficult. They took a chapter out of Orwell, and merely changed the name of the enemy.

We see this alive and well today in American foreign policy of course, as American troops have bombed or invaded a half dozen countries in the past five years. Meanwhile, conservatives complain that Obama is too passive on foreign policy. 

But we see the same agenda at work on the domestic level as well. It's certainly fun to see conservatives rush to the defense of government union labor, as long as those union "workers" are police officers, but perhaps even more telling is the fact that conservatives are happy to throw even the most basic tenets of what's left of Federalism overboard if it suits their domestic agenda.

The most recent case in point is the lawsuit brought by the Republican AGs Jon Bruning and  Scott Pruitt in Deep-Red States Nebraska and Oklahoma, respectively. These same men have argued vehemently for so-called states' right when it comes to Obamacare, but that's all over now, and they're asking the Supreme Court to declare that federal law always trumps state law. Why are they doing this? Well, because Nebraska and Oklahoma don't like that Colorado made some laws without the approval of Nebraska and Oklahoma. 

Mark Stern at Slate explains

Bruning and Pruitt’s crusade against Colorado’s marijuana laws conflicts with their ostensible support of states’ rights. As attorney general of Nebraska, Bruning has fought Obamacare with the fanaticism of a zealot, arguing in a legal challenge that the law tramped upon states’ rights. As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt has led the next major challenge to the act, insisting that the federal government must respect states’ decisions not to set up their own exchanges and to deny their citizens cheap access to good insurance. Both men believe their states have a right to control their own health insurance systems.

But when another state decides to experiment with a new drug policy, Bruning and Pruitt’s support for state sovereignty dries up. They are arguing that Congress’s prohibition against marijuana should force every state to prohibit it as well. (These attorneys general aren’t opposed to all intoxicants. Their position on marijuana might have something to do with the fact that both Bruning and Pruitt have received significant campaign contributions from alcohol industries.)

This strange little lawsuit against Colorado is so astonishingly hypocritical, so brazenly antipodal to Bruning and Pruitt’s professed philosophy, that even admirers of both men are aghast. Case Western Law’s Jonathan H. Adler, the mastermind behind the latest Obamacare suit, noted with disgust that “it is as if their arguments about federalism and state autonomy were not arguments of principle but rather an opportunistic effort to challenge federal policies they don’t like on other grounds.” Georgetown Law’s Randy Barnett, who brought the first Obamacare suit from the fringe to the mainstream, wrote that “I see no other way to interpret Nebraska and Oklahoma’s lawsuits than as an example of ‘fair weather federalism.’ ” 

Read more. 




Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is executive editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power and Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in public policy and international relations from the University of Colorado. He was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Breaking Away: The Case of Secession, Radical Decentralization, and Smaller Polities and Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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