Either South Carolina schools are teaching out of history books from the 1820s or some state lawmakers don't read so well.
Sadly, both are possible — because there's no other way to explain this sudden fascination with nullification.
Right now, the Legislature is planning to opt out of Obamacare, claiming it is unconstitutional. At the same time, lawmakers want to make it legal to carry guns in bars, restaurants and even circuses — because, well, clowns are kind of creepy.
Especially the ones at the Statehouse.
If any of these folks were students of history, they would know that South Carolina has a poor track record with nullification. Both Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln were forced to put this state's politicians in their place when they got uppity — and neither of those presidents had drones.
This is simple — very simple — political theater. There is no real debate.
On one side you have constitutional scholars and, on the other, the townsfolk from Rock Ridge in “Blazing Saddles.”
Can't have it both ways
State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis is a straight shooter, and he has no tolerance for this malarkey.
“It's a shame we can't get people to stop doing this to get attention or hold off a primary challenge,” the Charleston Democrat says. “It's total politics. I hope they don't really believe this. Republican lawyers and Republican lawmakers tell them it's unconstitutional.”
Funny how times change.
A decade ago, it was deemed unpatriotic to criticize the president during times of war. Today, some politicians say it's our duty to ignore the current occupant of the White House. This Obamacare thing is classic. The president basically steals an idea from Mitt Romney, which conservatives loved until a Democrat embraced it. The excuse: Well, the states should handle health care.
Yeah, because South Carolina is doing so well with that.
All this nullification baloney boils down to the 10th Amendment, which says powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution are left to the states.
By that reckoning South Carolina should opt out of those darn socialist programs like Social Security and Medicare. And while they're at it, the Internet garners nary a mention in the Constitution. So perhaps South Carolina should take over Web security, since they are so good at it.
Oh, wait. Never mind.
The cost of stupid
If this lunacy continues, taxpayers will soon be paying lawyers to fight some truly ludicrous court battles — the outcomes of which are apparent to anyone who's read a history book written after 1865.
And, as usual, the theater comes with even more expense.
“The sad thing is we have real problems to address and this is a colossal waste of our time,” Stavrinakis says.
But little things like facts won't stop these guys. They're going to keep shoveling nullification fantasies as long as people are buying them.
Which is too bad. If those folks read history, they'd know nullification has never worked out real well for South Carolina.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.