Are We Entering a New Era of State Nullification?


By Mark Perry

The American Conservative

When historians look back at “the coronavirus crisis of 2020,” they’re likely to focus on the spread of the disease, the economic dislocation it caused and how the federal government responded to it. Predictably, and depending on the depth and duration of the dislocation, the current moment will be labeled as either the “end of an era” or the beginning of a new one.

But at some point in the future, you can be sure, more nuanced thinkers will likely adjudge our current crisis as a piece with those that preceded it: of how, when it comes to American history, the more things change the more they actually stay the same.

This was vividly displayed over the last two weeks, as a gaggle of state governors complained that the federal government had failed to provide a unified, coordinated and national response to the crisis. “It’s the wild west out there,” Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said, while a second group pushed back against federal guidelines on what policies they should adopt in dealing with Covid-19–with a chorus of southern states leading the way.

First among them was Alabama, where, on March 26, Governor Kay Ivey dismissed the idea of a statewide stay-at-home order, emphasizing Alabama’s uniqueness, while channeling Lost Cause notions that the Enlightenment was hatched somewhere near Montgomery. “Y’all,” Ivey pronounced, in an unmistakable drawl, “we are not Louisiana, we are not New York state, we are not California.”


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