Competing Authorities at State and Local Level Increase Danger of Violent Civil War

Competing Authorities at State and Local Level Increase Danger of Violent Civil War

Elections for Governor in 36 states took place November 8. These include many of the most populous and influential states, particularly as it relates to vying for the presidency. They include Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Illinois, and California. Both Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have presidential ambitions and plan to run against Donald Trump, who is expected to announce after the midterm elections. California Governor Gavin Newsum is also considering a run against Biden, who has yet to confirm if he will run in 2024.

The significance of these elections this year lies in the fact that Governors, as state executives, operate as contending authorities with the federal government and between the states. They also control considerable armed forces, including state National Guard and state police. In conditions of a government of police powers at the federal level, based not on law but on impunity and exercising prerogative powers, through executive orders for example, the legitimacy and authority of the federal government gets called into question. Governors are also using police powers, often using executive orders.

The contention by Governors challenging federal authority, and that among the states themselves, is a factor increasing the danger of open, violent civil war. One arena where this is playing out is that of immigration.

In July the Pentagon extended for another year deployment of an estimated 4,000 U.S. armed forces at the border with Mexico. They were originally put in place by Trump in what was supposed to be a temporary assignment but has now lasted four years. In addition, Texas Governor Abbott has sent about 5,000 state National Guard to the border, under his command. In June, he, and Governor of Arizona Doug Ducey sent a letter to all 48 other states requesting they send their state National Guard to Texas for reinforcements. Several states did, including South Dakota, which used a private billionaire to finance the deployment. Arizona, Iowa, and Arkansas also sent state National Guard troops, while Ohio, Nebraska and Florida sent their Highway Patrol or other state law enforcement agents. Texas is using both.

National Guard troops come under the authority of the Governor of each state, unless federalized by the President, with permission of the Governor, as occurred for deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. Having both state National Guard and federal armed forces, and federal Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and state police all deployed and contending along the border creates conditions for confrontation and contention. This is especially true given Border Patrol and ICE forces tend to favor the Trump faction and all are operating with impunity and great brutality against people at the border. Certainly, it is not a recipe for providing for the rights and needs of the immigrants and refugees, many being unjustly held in detention camps.

As conditions of civil war intensify, the problem of uniting the military (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force) and the federal policing agencies (including ICE, FBI, DEA, CIA, and more), and bringing state and local policing agencies (such as the massive ones for New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles) under federal control, is a major problem for the rulers. The elections for Governor will be an indication of just how these conflicts will play out in the coming years and how divisions along regional lines might emerge.

In addition, over the summer Abbott and DeSantis sent busloads of mostly refugees to Chicago, New York City, DC and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. They said these states, all three being sanctuary states for immigrants and refugees, could better provide for their needs. Abbott has bussed about 7,900 migrants to DC since April, while sending 2,200 to New York and 300 to Chicago. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has bused more than 1,800 migrants to DC since May.

The Mayor of New York City (NYC), Eric Adams, responded by saying it was criminal, kidnapping, etc. and called on the federal Department of Justice (DoJ) to prosecute. Governor Newsom of California, also called on the DoJ to prosecute. In addition, the DoJ July 30 filed a lawsuit against Abbott for his executive order barring non-governmental agencies from transporting undocumented immigrants in cars. The ACLU filed a similar suit calling for an injunction to stop implementation of the executive order, which a federal judge granted.

These are but a few of the examples where state authorities, especially Governors, are contending with the federal government and among themselves. In general, the disputes are persisting in various forms, including not only immigration but voting rights and COVID mandates. The impunity and arbitrary nature of governments of police powers undermines the legitimacy of government authorities at all levels, serving to eliminate the relations among the various federal and state authorities and unleashing anarchy and chaos, within their ranks and for the people.

In addition, all the media attention focused on actions by Abbott and DeSantis served to hide the brutal, racist, and inhumane treatment of immigrants and refugees by all. New York City, for example, gets many thousands of people from El Paso and other border cities that are unable to contend with the numbers of people coming in. Homeless shelters in New York City are already overflowing so Mayor Adams initially said he would provide a tent city to house the immigrants and refugees. Before it was even finished it was flooded out, as housing activists predicted.

As a result of fierce struggle, New York City has a “right-to-shelter” law, which guarantees a bed to any homeless individual. Housing and immigrant rights activists have been demanding that empty office and apartment buildings be utilized for housing, but Adams has refused. Now he is considering using cruise ships.

Housing is a serious problem that could be solved using solutions people are putting forward. But these are not heeded as the people are not the decision makers and their solutions, whether for housing, immigration, education, healthcare, have no place in the elections or any other time. The lack of political power is being felt as an immediate issue across the country and securing people’s empowerment is the problem to solve.

(Voice of Revolution)