And it’s not just because Obama is black. Man, you people really need to stop always making this about race. What do you mean you people? AHHHH. Anyway. Before I get into this, I must, for the sake of the nuance-challenged, declare unequivocally that I oppose slavery (especially of the civil kind) and that I am not a racist. For the sake of this article, I am not even considering the intersection of Obama’s race and stereotypical Old South prejudices. Now, on to issues we can all disagree on… (Warning: This article is really long and boring… And it has only one picture… a flag, of all things… which most people will, incorrectly, think is the colonial Stars and Bars. Hint: It’s not.) (Spoiler Alert: The South lost.)
Most people have not read the Confederate Constitution. It is a fascinating document as much for its similarities to the original Constitution as for its dissimilarities. Consider a few of the innovations (check out The Confederate Constitution of 1861 by Marshall DeRosa if you want a more thorough study of the subject):
1) “Almighty God” was specifically called upon in the Preamble for “favor and guidance.”
2) Presidents were limited absolutely to one term of six years. (No lame duck madness.)
3) The “General Welfare Clause” was removed. (Internal improvements were strictly a state affair.)
4) Federal and Judicial officers were impeachable by two-thirds of the state legislature in their state of residence.
5) Every law passed by Congress could relate to only one subject, which subject had to be labeled candidly in the title. (No riders allowed.)
6) All bills by Congress to appropriate money had to specify an exact amount, and absolutely no more than that could be drawn. (No trojan horse bills.)
7) A Constitutional Convention for amending the Constitution could be convened if three states (rather than two-thirds of the states) requested it. Further, the national Congress had no vote concerning Constitutional Amendments.
Further, even though a Confederate Supreme Court was authorized by the Confederate Constitution, the enacting legislation for establishing one was never passed in spite of the great “need” for one cited by many of its supporters. State Supreme Courts were the highest courts in the Confederacy. This meant that the job of interpreting the constitutionality of Federal laws was effectively left in the hands of the individual states.
The Confederate Congress would not have passed ObamaCare because:
1) It is a Federal injunction for internal improvements—not allowed.
2) It relates to more than one subject (At 2,700 pages… you think?).
3) It does not adequately specify exact amounts to be appropriated for what purposes.
Further, the national Supreme Court would have no say in its constitutionality. State Supreme Courts could strike it down even if it were passed by Congress. And federal officials could be impeached and removed by state legislatures if such agents were to try to force citizens to abide by it.
Lord Acton, the man most people know for his famous quote (“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”), was an astute observer of the Civil War (or War Between the States or War of Southern Independence or whatever… a dung pile by any other name…). Like most educated Brits, he wanted the South to win. But his reasons were not exclusive rights to cheap cotton or the fact that the South had preserved more of the cultural vestiges of its mother country. Rather, Acton believed that the South was the last chance America had to correct the political abuses that had crept into the American Republic:
These were the political ideas of the Confederacy, and they justify me, I think, in saying that history can show no instance of so great an effort made by republicans to remedy the faults of that form of government. . . .
The spurious liberty of the United States is twice cursed, for it deceives those whom it attracts and those whom it repels. By exhibiting the spectacle of a people claiming to be free, but whose love of freedom means hatred of inequality, jealousy of limitations to power, and reliance on the state as an instrument to mould as well as to control society, it calls on its admirers to hate aristocracy and teaches its adversaries to fear the people. The North has used the doctrines of democracy to destroy self-government. The South applied the principle of conditional federation to cure the evils and to correct the errors of a false interpretation of democracy.
The South had many flaws (as Acton points out in this very essay). But its Constitution (which explicitly outlawed the slave trade, by the way… which meant the Southern institution of slavery was undergoing a planned obsolescence… just saying) may have been one of the last chances America had to address the problems of the original Constitution in a rigorous and sweeping way—to preclude the even more egregious abuses we are suffering under now. In other words, America lost the Civil War.