A New Nation-State

Apologies for yesterday’s accidental post-that-wasn’t. I clearly don’t do stir-crazy very well….


Should the GOP manage to manipulate–rig– the 2020 election and somehow re-elect Trump–maybe I won’t have to move into my son’s house in Amsterdam, or go to Canada, which have been my choices so far.

Maybe I can just move to California. which Governor Gavin Newsom has begun referring to  as a “Nation-State.”

California this week declared its independence from the federal government’s feeble efforts to fight Covid-19 — and perhaps from a bit more. The consequences for the fight against the pandemic are almost certainly positive. The implications for the brewing civil war between Trumpism and America’s budding 21st-century majority, embodied by California’s multiracial liberal electorate, are less clear.

 Speaking on MSNBC, Governor Gavin Newsom said that he would use the bulk purchasing power of California “as a nation-state” to acquire the hospital supplies that the federal government has failed to provide. If all goes according to plan, Newsom said, California might even “export some of those supplies to states in need.”

 “Nation-state.” “Export.”

(Newsom’s “Nation-State” differs from what Mike Bloomberg and others have referred to as “the rise of City-States” in response to climate change.)

In what the quoted article calls “civil war by other means,” Newsom is sending a message, not to Trump (who lacks the intellect to decode communications in any event), but to both political parties.

The GOP has been waging war on democratic values, institutions and laws for a number of years. The Democrats have been playing defense (and arguably not very well).

The GOP’s politicization of the Supreme Court most recently led to the unconscionable ruling requiring Wisconsin voters to risk their lives in order to cast a vote. Despite the fact that Wisconsin voters took that risk, that should have been a wake-up call.

Perhaps it was.

It’s clearly past time for Democrats to go on the offensive. Newsom is Governor of the nation’s largest state; he’s in a position to put Republicans on notice. California’s  taxpayers account for 15% of individual contributions to the U.S. Treasury, and the article suggests the state is is “now toning up at muscle beach.”

Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener, a leader in California’s cumbersome efforts to produce more housing, said soon after Newsom took office in 2019 that reorienting the state’s relationship to Washington is a necessity, not a choice.

“The federal government is no longer a reliable partner in delivering health care, in supporting immigrants, supporting LGBT people, in protecting the environment, so we need to forge our own path,” Wiener said. “We can do everything in our power to protect our state, but we need a reliable federal partner. And right now we don’t have that.”

And that quote  was from before the federal government’s multiple failures to respond adequately to the pandemic.

Federalism has a number of virtues; as we saw in the 50s and 60s, however, “state’s rights” can also facilitate gross injustices. Its current operation is among the many governing structures we need to rethink and reorient–but that reorientation, along with all the other institutional “fixes” we need–will have to await the installation of a competent federal administration.

Meanwhile, states like California are increasingly at odds with the Republican playbook: California is a sanctuary state while Trump’s GOP is demonizing immigrants; its approach to marijuana is much more permissive than that of the feds; its position on guns is diametrically opposed to that of an administration co-opted by the NRA.  Etc. Now, Trump’s dangerous mismanagement of pandemic response has essentially left California and other states to manage on their own.

One conflict, however, encompasses all others, and could galvanize Californians into new ways of thinking about their state and its relationship to Washington. The GOP war on democracy is inspired by a drive for racial and cultural supremacy that jeopardizes the democratic aspirations and human rights of California’s multiracial citizenry.

It isn’t only California. The majority of citizens in our diverse nation live in urban areas and urbanized states, while the White Supremacy Party–aka GOP–is increasingly a rural phenomenon. The states with a majority of the country’s population are under-represented in the Senate; their citizens’ votes are minimized by the Electoral College and gerrymandering.  There’s no reason to believe that these continuing inequities of minority rule won’t trigger a counterattack–and good reason to believe they will.

As the editorial concludes:

John C. Calhoun, who used the theory of states’ rights to defend the institution of slavery, is not generally a philosophical lodestar for liberal Democrats such as Newsom. But if Republicans (or foreign friends) succeed in sabotaging democracy in November, Calhoun’s theory of nullification, which posited that states have the power to defy federal law, could be ripe for a comeback on the left coast. With the heirs of the Confederacy now reigning in Washington, turnabout might be very fair play.


  1. I hope Democrats finally get enough gumption in time to protect our voting rights before it’s too late.

  2. Trump’s sudden back-pedaling, or walking-back his statement of total control as president and agreeing to allow states to make their own reopen decisions is actually frightening to me. It was the Republican state controlled Electoral College members who APPOINTED Trump to the presidency and those states are still bright red Republican controlled states. Including Indiana. We are still under Trump’s control, now as one of his – and Pence’s – “nation-states” at their beck and call.

    With such as Trey Hollingsworth willing to let people die here to reopen businesses which could be aided by the stimulus bill if only the federal government could take action to turn loose of the financial aid to support them through this Covid-19 Pandemic. Now; we must wait for Trump’s Sharpie signature to be added to all checks. Trump’s government is desperately trying to shut down Post Offices across the nation; will they find enough hold-ups on mailing the checks till there is no Post Office to deliver them? It will then be time-consuming to decide and contract with private businesses to deliver financial aid and what the cost will be to us to receive them. Or will this be one of the areas where Trump will leave it up to the states to decide? Nothing he says is for the aid or the betterment of America or Americans; not even his allowing states to make their own decisions such as southern Sovereignty Commissions were considered States Rights.

    What if governors of states decide they want to remain members of the World Health Organization?

  3. It’s not a matter of IF Republicans will continue sabotaging democracy, it is a matter of their CONTINUING sabotage of democracy AND the Constitution. These entities are a hindrance to the greed of the donors and business executives who own and operate the Republican party. Slavery was justified by the corporatists because it was the ultimate in profit making: no labor costs.

    Once California rid itself of mindless Republicans like Reagan, Wilson, Swartzenegger (sic) and the Republican-dominated legislature, they began recovering economically from the corporatists’ job destruction there. Still, California produces its share of Republican idiots and Constitution and law destroyers like Nunes and McCarthy.

    It’s about Republicans. The Republican party is a den of thieves and royalists, not defenders of the Constitution.

  4. Covid 19 might prove to be the most stealthy and most resilient enemy for this current administration!

    A “New Confederacy” on the horizon? A Confederacy of states which contribute more to the federal government than they receive? New York, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, are really supporting many of the red states, because they give so much more to the government than they receive. These states and a few others, could form a Confederacy which could bring the federal government to its knees.

    Will it happen? I suppose it could, it would be an existential crisis though. I don’t think there would be any doubt or argument about that!

    Covid 19 has set in motion something that this country’s enemies tried and failed in, dissolving the union. Something like this would cause a great deal of pain for a lot of the poor and maligned in this country, because a lot of those poor live in “Red States” who receive redistribution of funds from the wealthier blue states. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but on the whole, there is no doubt about it.

    I don’t think it would/will happen that way, but the pressure is going to reveal more instability at the top of the federal government. Just listening to these daily White House briefs, the schizophrenic and sociopathic diatribe is truly something to behold! My oldest son is schizophrenic, and he makes more sense on a regular basis than the person that holds the most powerful position on the planet. As a matter of fact, he frequently asks if we think he takes medication, LOL, because even he recognizes there is severe mental illness afoot.

    This president just admitted that he took the oil industry’s side, OPEC, and Russia, not to mention American oil producers, to reduce production and raise the cost of oil and thereby gasoline! At a time when people are not working, he wants to artificially drive up the cost of oil and fuel! There is so many people with their hands in the till, And, I think more and more states will lay out an Ultimatum, A Referendum if you will, one that will send tectonic ripples through this government.

    The POTUS threatened yesterday, if states defied him, there would be a huge problem and he would have to take decisive action, can anyone say “Marshall Law”? That way he could eliminate “Posse Comitatus” And suspend habeas corpus, Which would allow him to roll the military into states or federalize the National Guard.

    This person at the top of the federal government is definitely insane, and he is not only fiddling as Rome burns, i.e. president Nero, he’s got his own orchestra sitting in the Senate!

    As he tries to deflect, you can see by his comments on the World Health Organization, are exactly the failings of his own administration! What’s being claimed as a failure of the World Health Organization are exactly the failings of himself as leader of the free world. Our captain of this Titanic, is blaming the iceberg for being in the way rather than him steering the ship around it! It’s so sad, and, everyone should be fearful!

  5. John,

    Thanks for corroborating all my rants about Republicans. The cherry on top is Trump’s cutting of WHO funds coupled with the absurd necessity to have his name printed on our relief checks. I’m glad I have direct deposit and won’t have to soil my eyes by seeing his ridiculous signature.

  6. I wonder how many of his biggest fans will actually hold onto their checks, just to have something signed by the moron in chief?

  7. Sheila, you have enunciated the reason behind my decision to move out of Indiana when I retired in 2013. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live in a progressive Indianapolis with a return to the dominance of the Republican Party at the State House. The rest of the country will evolve into progressivism, but the Indiana State House will be stuck in what they imagine was 1955.

  8. Vernon,
    LOL! You are welcome.

    He’s going to have his signature on the checks? I didn’t even hear about that! Yes, direct deposit is the way to go.

    By the way Vernon, your rants as you call them, are actually speaking truth to power, the POTUS is the one that rants.

  9. The only glimmer of hope I had this week was the SC election in Wisconsin. Perhaps sanity is returning to them.

  10. Of course, the majority of the folks who get paper checks, not direct deposit are the poorest (the “unbanked”) so just let them starve, get evicted, etc. so the checks can be delayed for the ruler’s signature. “If you see something, say something…GOPers…”

  11. Peggy, his “biggest fans” already have signed
    photos from contributing to his campaign. Would you like one of mine? I have several.

  12. Peggy Hannon,

    Thanks for the laugh. I had not considered that possibility, but if you take into account people voting against their own self interests, it would make sense in the Cult of Trump.

  13. California is not true blue. In the Central Valley my neighbors are proudly displaying Trump campaign posters and the north part of the state leans libertarian. Newsome started his administration with a large surplus and appears to be determined to spend that down. We’ll see how his liberal policies play with voters when that buffer is gone

  14. Sheila,

    “Maybe I can just move to California, which Governor Newsom has begun referring to as a “Nation-State.”

    Stay around a little longer, you might have more choices:

    From CounterPunch
    FEBRUARY 6, 2012

    George F. Kennan, Secessionist?

    “For over seventy-five years Ambassador George F. Kennan, dean of the American diplomatic corps, American patriot, and Vermont aficionado, was at the cutting edge of American foreign policy. With the publication of John Lewis Gaddis’s new book George F. Kennan: An American Life (Penguin Press, 2011), Kennan’s name is once again on the national radar screen. When George F. Kennan died on March 17, 2005, at the age of 101, few Americans were aware that he supported the peaceful break-up of the American Empire and the creation of a Vermont independence movement.

    Although best known as the father of “containment,” the mainstay of American Cold War policy, Kennan first revealed his radical decentralist tendencies in his 1993 book entitled Around the Cragged Hill. “We are…a monster country…And there is a real question as to whether ‘bigness’ in a body politic is not an evil in itself, quite aside from the policies pursued in its name.” He also noted “a certain lack of modesty in the national self-image” of the U.S. He proposed decentralizing the U.S. into a “dozen constituent republics” including New England, the Middle Atlantic states, the Middle West, the Northwest, the Southwest (including Hawaii), Texas, the Old South, Florida, Alaska, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. “To these entities I would accord a larger part of the present federal powers than one might suspect – large enough, in fact, to make most people gasp.”

    After reading Kennan’s final book, An American Family (2000), which describes the life of his family in Waterbury, Vermont in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, I wrote to him in January 2001 and sent him a copy of my book with William H. Willimon entitled Downsizing the U.S.A. (1997), a book which unabashedly called for Vermont independence as a first step towards the peaceful dissolution of the Union. His letter of 7 February 2001 was the first of ten letters and several phone calls which I received from him over the next two years. In it he noted “the closeness of many of our views” and added, “we are, I fear, a lonely band…” Kennan was a closet secessionist.

    In a letter dictated to his secretary Terrie Bramley on 22 October 2001 Kennan responded to my proposal that Vermont join Maine, New Hampshire, and the Atlantic provinces of Canada to create a country the size of Denmark. In this letter he said, “I see nothing fanciful and nothing towards the realization of which efforts of enlightened people might not be usefully directed.” He concluded by writing, “I thought you, more than anyone else of my acquaintance, ought to know the direction in which my thoughts are leading in this late stage in my own life.”

    On 1 May 2002 he wrote, “All power to Vermont in its effort to distinguish itself from the U.S.A. as a whole, and to pursue in its own way the cultivation of its own tradition.” His most poignant letter, handwritten on 1 August 2002, said, “My enthusiasm for what you are trying to do in Vermont remains undiminished; and I am happy for any small support I can give it.”

    In his last letter to me on 14 February 2003, two days before his 99th birthday and just prior to the war in Iraq, he expressed concern about the negative political impact that the war might have on the Vermont independence movement. On this he was mistaken. The war that began on March 19 of that year actually gave impetus to the movement which had been officially launched two weeks earlier and soon became known as the Second Vermont Republic.

    Although I never heard form him again, George Kennan was a major source of inspiration for the Second Vermont Republic. He provided valuable insights about the size of America, the degree to which it is centralized, and its tendency towards imperialism. He also appreciated Vermont’s uniqueness—its history, its culture, and its size. Above all, he gave us the courage to pursue the dream of an independent Vermont. Unknown to him, he was truly the godfather of the Second Vermont Republic movement. Maybe someday he will also be known as the godfather of the Second Vermont Republic itself.”

    Thomas H. Naylor is Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the U.S.A., and The Search for Meaning.

  15. The primary purpose of The Trumpet was to take credit when no credit was due to him and to deflect blame whenever the pigeons came home to roost.

    The Trumpet has a “staff” of enablers led by Pastor Pence to twist themselves into knots trying to justify any actions or in actions taken by The Trumpet. A quote comes to mind,

    “Oh, what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practice to deceive!”

    The assorted scam artists accompany The Trumpet and his enablers to figure out a way to profit out of human misery.

    Becky, just wondering if you or a family member or fellow Trumpter requires Health Care will you use the Ryan-Trump Health Care Plan to pay for it????

  16. I like the idea of a Confederacy of Nation-States, as long as they are under the Supreme Control of the Federal Government. LOL!!! It is fun to be inconsistent…and so, so convenient.

    Actually, I think something could be worked out that includes three-way checks and balances on that subject. Add a handful of Regional Governments (maybe a couple of City States included) so that there are three major governing entities–States, Regions, and Federal. Then devise the checking system whereby specific situations enable State Supremacy; others Regional Supremacy; and others, such as war, depression, and interstate commerce, Federal Supremacy.

  17. It was Ronald Reagan that put the goal of neoliberalism into words – make federal government a problem rather than a solution. While he launched the effort Republican Presidents since have advanced the realization of it topped off by Trump whose every utterance defines a new incompetence, and whose every silence obscures a new corruption. Fulfilling Reagan’s promise is that easy. It can be done by pseudo-politicians with zero experience and like intelligence.

  18. Gail…on “Blue” California…

    I have lived in California five different times in four different political strongholds.

    1. San Francisco Bay Area: it was so insanely liberal (permissive and undisciplined) that I nearly fled the Democratic party in embarrassment. Note: despite common misapplied characterization, this area is not Northern California; Eureka is Northern California. There is a distance of 428 miles between San Francisco and the northern border with Oregon.

    2. SOCAL (Oceanside-San Diego) Area: it was so out-of-its-mind conservative/fascist/KKK that I fled for my life.

    3. San Joaquin Valley (Modesto) and the Sacramento Area: it seemed rational and smartly progressive.

    4. Eureka in NORTHERN California: it was progressive to Libertarian.

    Some in California may be thinking “Nation-state”, but many others are thinking of dividing California into five separate states.

  19. One is compelled to wonder why Becky has so many autographed pictures of a yellow muskrat. It must be the stink of lies and crimes that is so attractive.

  20. I think when I get my 1200 dollar check I will donate to causes that Trump tries to undermine ie Greenpeace, Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign. And maybe I will buy gift cards to some of my struggling neighbors for groceries.

    I wish I could afford to burn it since Trump’s signature might be on it. But I am not sure that’s the best way to rebut him. I think my contributions will be a better way.

    Vote for Biden!! Vote blue!!

  21. With California as the 5th biggest economy in the world (bigger, for instance, than either Russia or Italy) and with San Francisco my favorite city in the world, it is tempting to say I’m going to emigrate to California if Trump is reelected, but unlikely, because I think the federalism of Madison will survive Trump and/or his VP. I have been to New Zealand and have considered that venue as an escape valve but it’s too far away when one must attend weddings and funerals back here (if there is a “here” to return to), so I have settled on the Canadian banana belt valley south of Kamloops in western Canada just north of the apple-growing belt in the State of Washington. I have been there and saw nectarine trees and, if planes are flying, I could attend weddings and funerals only hours away. (All of this, of course, depends upon whether Trudeau will accept political refugees from the south.)

    The veiled threats of Newsom to pull out his Articles of Confederation card and leave the union reminds me of similar threats made by right wingers and Birchers when more liberal politics were the order of the day. Cooler heads (and time) prevailed and it didn’t happen, nor, in my opinion, will it happen now. Newsom’s complaint is not against the union, it’s against a fruitcake who happens to be the union’s chief executive and the manner in which he is conducting the union’s business. There are too many things in a federalized system that bind a state to the union and in my opinion Newsom will not throw out the baby with the bath water, especially when considering that going it alone can be expensive with provision for armies, navies, diplomats, social security, single payer healthcare and a lack of federal funding for highways, parks, airports, seaports etc.

    I share Newsom’s anger with the current demented occupant of the Oval Office, but not the union where, as Lincoln so eloquently noted in his Gettysburg Address, many thousands died for its preservation. There is an old saying which I think was attributed to a French general, Marshal Foch, in WW I, to the effect that “This, too, shall pass.” So will Trump.

  22. Again, Sheila,thanks for something else to think about. It has been getting more difficult to justify remaining in a state (South Carolina) that is so backward. Yesterday, I went to Tractor Supply to pick up my online order. During my 15 minute wait at the front, I saw that about 90% of the customers were NOT wearing masks or gloves! Our governor is considering reopening recreational waterways — a great gathering spot for party goers and lord knows what will happen when college football season rolls around! If the weather here wasn’t so wonderful . . . . .

  23. From the Guardian:

    House speaker Nancy Pelosi has released a statement condemning Trump’s decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization. “This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged,” Pelosi said.

    The US Chamber of Commerce released a statement criticizing Trump’s decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization. “The Chamber supports a reformed but functional World Health Organization, and U.S. leadership and involvement are essential to ensuring its transparency and accountability going forward,” the executive vice president of the lobbying group, Myron Brilliant, said in a statement.

    “However, cutting the WHO’s funding during the COVID-19 pandemic is not in U.S. interests given the organization’s critical role assisting other countries — particularly in the developing world — in their response.”

    This is just one more example of The Trumpet’s Leadership of Chaos, toss a grenade into a crowded room. Stymied in his attempt to rule the States by illegal Executive Fiat he lashes out as per usual.

  24. Larry,

    WADR – have you ever seen the mess between cities, counties, towns, etc. Wasted money, overlapping regulations, endless wrangling with minimal governing done. All we need is a Federal gov’t “working with” regional and sub-regional “sovereign states”.

  25. I began changing my views on states’ rights when Reagan became President, and my evolution went into ever higher gears under George W. Bush and then Trump. Unfortunately there’s not much security in states with legislation and courts that have been subjugated to the Koch Brothers and ALEC model legislation passed by gerrymandered legislatures. The Koch brothers now also have a U.S. Supreme Court on their corporate, anti-democracy side.

    Democracy is dangerously at risk and may already have passed the tipping point. The only salvation is HUGE voter turnout to turn out the authoritarians.

  26. The civil war was about the States right to cede from the Union. So that’s going to count for nothing. Just because we currently have an incompetent POTUS more into self enrichment & aggrandizement we let him carry on & destroy the basis of our Constitution? Just because he can’t or won’t fulfill his role, we need not throw the baby out with the bathwater. In this case #3 is the contaminated bath water!

  27. States do not have “rights.” The Declaration of Independence makes clear: “WE hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the Governed…”
    Governments have powers derived from the consent of people. To say any government has “rights” is to put that, or any, government on a level equal to human beings who create government. The Framers did not do that.

  28. Peggy: You nailed it! Far too many, I fear. It’s pitiful!
    Becky: Not here! Not ever! Likely a plant? Maybe a turnip? She will ‘turn up’ frequently with nothing to offer. Sad! It’s over, Becky, so very over!

  29. Robin: Some great ideas there! I suggest any of those donation spots, as the “president” has likely damaged some if not all of them. “Everything Trump Touches Dies” and all those other pithy sayings! Yes, vote Biden and vote Blue! WE CAN / WILL DO THIS!

  30. From B:
    “There isn’t any iceberg
    It’s a fake iceberg
    There was an iceberg but it’s in a totally different ocean
    People say it’s the biggest iceberg
    The iceberg is in this ocean but it will melt very soon
    There is an iceberg but we didn’t hit the iceberg
    We hit the iceberg, but the damage will be repaired very shortly
    I knew from the beginning there was an iceberg, long before people called it an iceberg
    The iceberg is a Chinese iceberg
    We are taking on water but every passenger who wants a lifeboat can get a lifeboat, and they are beautiful lifeboats
    Look, passengers need to ask nicely for the lifeboats if they want them
    I really don’t think we need that many lifeboats
    We don’t have any lifeboats, we’re not lifeboat distributors
    Passengers should have planned for icebergs and brought their own lifeboats
    We have lifeboats and they’re supposed to be our lifeboats, not the passengers’ lifeboats
    The lifeboats were left on shore by the last captain of this ship
    Nobody could have foreseen the iceberg
    I’m an expert on icebergs. I’ve got lots of friends who deal with icebergs, some of the best, really good ice people who know ice
    Summer will come and the iceberg will disappear, it will go away, like magic”

    Donald Trump

    Thanks, B, for this priceless contribution!

  31. Wow Marv,

    That was an enlightening post! What better way to demolish the United States as a world power then to divide it up into pieces. The Russians have been working on that forever, but it looks like the virus might hold more weight, LOL, SMH, this whole deal has more twists and turns than a Hitchcock movie.

  32. Betty – you forgot that the beautiful lifeboats are “THE GREATEST LIFEBOAT IN HISTORY”

    There always has to be a “greatest”, “biggest”, or other superlative. 8)>

  33. Hey Len: You’re so right! Since I copied the quote as it appeared, I wasn’t comfortable to add the line you mention. But, you are spot-on! I thought the piece on the iceberg was well done and I wanted to share it on the comments on Sheila’s blog.

  34. Betty,

    More about icebergs. You have to have an experienced “Skipper” to prevent a collision.

    The following is an ad from page 43 of the June 30, 2008 edition of The Nation Magazine:


    The Ethical Forum for Orchestrating Radical Transformations (EFFORT), in conjunction with the
    Political Epidemiology Institute, is hosting a teach-in on July 3 from 9 to 5 at the new downtown
    Jacksonville Public Library.

    See registration and program information at JoinTheEffort.org.”

    The iceberg in question was the soon to be, fully organized, TEA PARTY.

    “I skate to where the puck is gonna be, not where it has been.”
    ~Wayne Gretzky, NHL great

    The above is certainly not the case for The Guardian.

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