Is “civil war” brewing in the U.S.?

A widely discussed and shared OpEd in Bloomberg pointed out Gavin Newsom’s (Governor of California) very clearly intentional use of language, using the terms “nation-state” and “export”. Prima facie, this is just politics and just Governor Newsom doing what he needs to do to ensure sufficient medical supplies for the citizens of California. The OpEd trolls the notion that Republicans are racists, and that the GOP is anti-democracy, and that Mr. Newsom’s remarks could be a precursor to Democrats going on the offensive against Republicans. When we think of States’ Rights, we tend to think of slavery, or the Lonestar State and its apocryphal codified ability to secede — in short, we tend to think of GOP territory. But California, a powerhouse of the Left, would be the world’s fifth largest economy if it really were a nation-state, and that gives it a lot of power. We’re a long way from tanks on the streets, but it’s not at all inconceivable that California could start distancing itself from Washington. Since the founding of the U.S., the scope of power of the Federal government has been up for debate. Initially, it was entirely too weak, and the country fell apart under the Articles of Confederation, before the new (current) Constitution was enshrined. That Constitution walks a very fine line — the people are the ultimate sovereigns, they cede some of their power to their States; and the States, in turn, cede some of their power to the federation. Exactly how much and on exactly which terms has always been debated, both through the courts of law, and most concerningly through the actual Civil War. It would be very interesting if the current crisis led to a tipping of the scales in favor of less Federal power and more local power.

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