There has been a great deal of debate over the concept of nullification, specifically the ability for local and state law enforcement to arrest and detain federal agents who break the law. A recent instance proves that this can indeed be done. The Tenth Amendment Center blogged on this recent intriguing development:
Byron McDonald, a lieutenant with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Justice Services, was arrested by Salt Lake City Police after he allegedly pointed a gun at an Uber driver Oct. 20. McDonald, who had been drinking with friends, became hostile to the driver once he dropped his friends off, according to KUTV. He allegedly pulled a gun on the driver, causing him to flee and call 911.
The following day, McDonald was taken into custody and charged with felony aggravated assault by Salt Lake City’s District Attorney, who stated that the Uber driver’s account was matched hotel security cameras which recorded the incident.
While this proves that federal officials can be apprehended by state and local authorities, it does not mean that we should base our resistance strategy upon some government officials arresting other government officials. TAC blogger T.J. Martinelli explains:
Of course, a federal officer accused of committing assault is not considered the same as an officer attempting to enforce unconstitutional federal laws – even if it should be. That’s where the incorrect interpretation of the Supremacy Clause gets thrown around. Here, it did not apply because even the feds aren’t going to claim that officers have the right to point guns at cab drivers after a night of heavy drinking…
In practice, unfortunately, if a state were to arrest a federal agent going about their duty, the federal government would immediately challenge the arrest. The case would be immediately remanded to federal court. The state court system would immediately comply and turn the case over to the federal court. And once in federal court, a federal agent enforcing a federal act would likely be released, with the arresting state officers likely to face federal charges.
Unfortunately, federal judges are often in cahoots with the politicians who gave them their cushy positions. Even if a law were somehow able to pass at the state level that called for the arrest of federal agents that violated the Constitution, it would immediately be struck down according to judicial precedent. The incestuous nature of the system prevents us from fighting back effectively in this manner.
At the Solutions Institute, we are working peacefully to accomplish our goals, and we can achieve them without pitting armed bureaucrats against other armed bureaucrats. After all, it is not war that we want. We want peace. We do not want unnecessary conflict. We want to give people a path out of the structural violence that is continuously perpetuated by the system, and our approach must incorporate a definitive rejection of the tactics that have created the current dismal state of affairs.
Force is what our government, or the criminal elements that have hijacked our government, relies upon. It is their domain. It is what they are familiar with. It is how they get what they want. They have the guns, the ammo, the bombs, the sophisticated technology, and they are aching to use it on all of us. If we stoop to their level and resort to violence, that is playing on their turf. It is counter-productive to everything we intend to accomplish.
By relying on a strictly peaceful approach, we expose the government for what it really is. We put the pressure on these bureaucrats, and their facade starts to crumble. We win by making them lose support, legitimacy, prestige and credibility. Without any of this, they have nothing. Much of their power is an illusion. By shining the light of day onto their operation, it falls to pieces. They desperately need our consent to enact their plans. Removing that can make all of the difference.
A couple of modern-day examples of this are Obamacare and NSA Spying. Regardless of your opinion on these two issues, it is undeniable that they are huge linchpins of the federal agenda. Without state and local help, they go up in smoke. Obamacare cannot exist without insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion. If the states refuse to assist in their creation, Obamacare is untenable. With NSA spying, the feds rely on millions of gallons of water to be provided to them from the states to cool their vast network of supercomputers. If that is denied, the NSA’s plans are finished immediately. It is undeniably legal for the states to deny compliance to the federal government for any reason. This is how we can strike back against tyranny and injustice effectively.
We screw this up by resorting to violence. The Ferguson protests, for example, show how violence can tarnish a perfectly legitimate movement. Thanks in part to the biased media, the rioters and looters have become the public face for what should have been an anti-police brutality movement. This can only happen when individuals resort to violence, and do not have a clear focus of what they intend on accomplishing. Bad strategy can torpedo a budding movement, and the feds are always there to guide people down a dead end whenever possible. We must always be cognizant in order to steer clear of this trap.
If many of the Ferguson protesters had come to the Solutions Institute before staging demonstrations, we could have told them to focus on the DoD’s 1033 program that is aggressively militarizing police. We could have told them to focus on this aspect, rather than the racial aspect, for the purposes of national unity against police brutality. We could have told them to make this about the many instances of abuse across the country, to make it more difficult for their legitimate concerns to be discounted. That is why the methodology of the Solutions Institute is so important.
We must not use force to ban things we don’t like. We must instead create a new paradigm that can make the old one irrelevant simply by offering better options to individuals. Too often, well-meaning activists have played the government’s game. They have made their reform efforts about emboldening the government through onerous new rules, regulations, fines, fees, restrictions, mandates and so on. When the government is given more power, that power will likely be used to harm society regardless of the original intent of the activists pushing for it.
We must work toward the decentralization of power. That way, local leaders who have earned respect from their community have more power than unaccountable federal bureaucrats. Our method is the best one toward moving our society in that direction. By rejecting the use of force outright and having an appropriate strategic focus, we can set many well-meaning folks in the right direction to bolster their effectiveness as they make the world a better place.
Shane Trejo is the National Campaign Lead for the Peace on our Streets coalition to end marijuana and hemp prohibition through state-level initiatives. He also founded the Michigan Tenth Amendment Center to promote decentralized power in the Wolverine State. He can be reached at shane.trejo [at] tenthamendmentcenter .com.
The Solutions Institute only takes one position: good ideas do not require force. Otherwise, each article published at the Solutions Institute is chosen for its focus on the process and how-to instruction. Any opinions expressed on any other issue, by any author or commenter, are strictly their own. Learn more.