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The Washington Redskins and the Death of Federalism

Federalism in America has seemingly reached the point of being nothing but a romantic daydream for quixotic political idealists.

Neither states nor individuals, whose retention of rights beyond those enumerated in the Constitution are safeguarded by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, seem to have any interests that the federal government considers beyond its purview if there’s some altruistic crusade that can be mounted.

Proving the totality of this centralized ideology is  Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, who recently stated she will not allow a plan to build a new stadium for the Washington Redskins on land owned by the National Park Service just outside the Capitol to go forward until the football team changes its name.

This is the latest battle in a longer war against a nonexistent enemy.

President Obama and other Democrats, Harry Reid in particular, have argued vociferously that the team, which was named in honor of former coach Lone Star Dietz, an American Sioux, needs to change its racist name. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revoked the Redskins’ trademark in 2014, citing its disparaging logo in their decision to do so. Yet, the offense which the government touts as the root of its crusade is simply not supported by past polling.

By itself, the government’s lack of care for the actual facts of the situation is disturbing. But it is much more so when their actions, calculated to destroy the team if they do not comply, are also taken into account.

It is not just Redskins owner Dan Snyder whose livelihood is on the line, but the team and the coaching staff. The proposed plan for the stadium is done with the aim of revitalization, meaning local D.C. business people and taxpayers would also benefit.

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But the federal government is willing to crush these private business transactions because it has taken a bold moral stance on a non issue. And the proactive attitude of the patent office and NPS, though not necessarily coordinated, smack of a broader inter-agency policy.

This is the end result of a government enervated by consciousness. It clearly does not care for the consequences its actions have upon law-abiding citizens. It is emboldened in taking punitive federal measures in a matter that has nothing whatever to do with any enumerated powers. And why shouldn’t it, for there has been very little push back.

The issue of a sports team’s name may seem of very little consequence, but like so many other things, it is symbolic of a larger issue- the increasingly activist culture of an ever-growing and increasingly sentient federal government.

Rather than make laws with an aim at creating parity in opportunity for all societal actors and reacting when some wrong is committed, the government assumes the responsibility of defining its own wrongs, trying and judging whoever is unfortunate enough to run across the meandering and shifting lines of morality under the evolving standards of decency of political correctness.

The federal government is effectively a living entity and it responds to the whim of whomever happens to be in charge, as Dan Snyder and others have come to discover. So long as this is the case, it poses an ever-present and exigent threat to all states and individuals.

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About Katherine Revello

A recent graduate of the University of Maine, where she majored in journalism and political science, Katherine Revello is an aspiring political commentator. Her focuses include theory, the philosophy of money and populism. Currently, she is a graduate student at Villanova University. She is the founder of The Politics of Discretion, a blog dedicated to advancing her philosophy of discretionism. Follow her on Twitter: @MrsWynandPapers