October 3, 2008

My Mistake: Gov. Palin is a Neo-Federalist

I erred in a post of a few days ago when I assumed that Gov. Palin was mistaken in referring to herself as a "Federalist." It turns out that George Bush and the Neocons have re-invented the notion of federalism in American culture. They proudly own it now, using the term in its pre-Constitutional sense, meaning a loose confederation of independent states. Take the word out of the context of U.S. history, pretend that the great constitutional debates over federalism v. states rights never happened, and you may get an idea of the meaning. Palin and the Neocons are not Federalists in the traditional sense of American History; rather, they are neo-Federalists.

Somehow, I'm reminded of how the Nazis decided to call themselves the "National Socialist Party." I don't mean to suggest a similarity between the Neocons and the Nazis; they use the terminology correctly in the strictest sense, but it's just so darn misleading.

For a good (and brief) summary of the meaning of federalism in the context of U.S. history, check out Country Studies: Hamilton vs. Jefferson. The one solid similarity between Alexander Hamilton and the Neocons is their belief that government should be about the business of protecting business and commerce above other interests. Perhaps that's really what they mean when they call themselves Federalists. If so, then Gov. Palin used the term incorrectly, after all.

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