Friday, 3 January 2003

The Dixiecrats and the Constitution

Eugene Volokh debunks the far-right myth of the Dixiecrats as being either libertarian or constitutionalist:

But then [Paul Craig Roberts] proceeds to defend the Dixiecrats on the merits:

It was left to the libertarian, Llewellyn Rockwell, to point out that, fundamentally, states' rights is about the Tenth Amendment, not segregation. Thurmond's political movement sought a return to the enumerated powers guaranteed by the Constitution to the states. . . .

Lott's tribute to Thurmond is easily defended on principled constitutional grounds. However, to speak against the neoconservative Republican and liberal Democrat ideal of a powerful central government is as impermissible as to utter words deemed to offend the legally privileged.

Interesting, that: Did Thurmond's political movement also seek a return to, say, the Fourteenth Amendment, also part of the same Constitution, which required states to give blacks the "equal protection" of the laws, something that the 1948 South notably neglected to do? What about the Fifteenth Amendment — were the Dixiecrats also enthusiastic about protecting blacks' constitutionally secured rights to vote? In fact, what seems more like a system of entrenched class privilege in which some aristocrats (granted, often a majority, unlike in real feudalism) lord it over the downtrodden commoners — 1948 Dixie (or 1948 America more broadly), or 2002 America, with all its warts?

As I have argued in the past (as anyone who has suffered through my POL 101 will testify), Jim Crow was the very embodiment of the problem of “majority faction” that James Madison warned about in Federalist 10, and one of the few situations that justifies federal interference in state affairs.

Incidentally, those who would defend the GOP as the “Party of Lincoln” should bear in mind that just 21 years after Lincoln's assassination, Republicans abandoned their principles in the “corrupt bargain” of Hayes-Tilden, where the GOP abandonded its responsibility to enforce the 14th and 15th amendments in exchange for the presidency.