The present time finds us in an American-style Civil War. Recent defiance against federal laws concerning voting rights, health care, attacks against Attorney General Eric Holder, reproductive rights, and the ongoing conflict between "Big Government" against "Little Government" have been in existence since this country's birth.
Let's look at the US's dynamic, its Pendulum. The Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, and the Constitution formed the original 13 separate colonies into one nation. When the War was over, the Pendulum swung, beginning the ebb and flow between the Federal government and the states.
Woven into the fabric of the "Founding Fathers'" legislative tapestry was the source of an ongoing discord: avoiding the question of slavery became the stitch that was this great work's imperfection. Aside from the moral question of slavery, the framers (farmers?), by not addressing the issue, bypassed the question of what the newly formed federal government's prerogatives would be versus states' rights.
Positive swings of the Pendulum have created a national currency, universal education, child labor laws,voting rights, with compromises on how states could modify those laws. And it led to the Civil War, Brown Versus the Board of Education, to name other momentous swings. Not that all things federal are enlightened, or all local interests restrictive. There is the fight over Medical Marijuana between the government and the State of California; the government has closed down over 600 state-approved dispensaries. And recent social advances in same sex marriage began on the state level, precipitating eventual federal laws.
The current Civil War continues in aggressive resistance to federal authority by the Republicans:Texas Governor Rick Perry's insincere threat to secede from the country rather than accept federal bailout funds a few years ago is now repeated by Republican governors' refusal to institute the Affordable Health Care Act in their states. The Contempt of Congress proceedings against the Attorney General are a diversion from his order for Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott to cease purging voters from the rolls in that stae, which have been met with vehement refusal; States' Rights or voters' rights?
The Republicans' stated aim is to drive President Obama out of office regardless of what he does, even if it means destablizing the executive branch and the federal government is weakened.
The jury is still out on whether the Supreme Court's decision to uphold The Affordable Health Care Act will be effective. It can be said that at last a conservative, Chief Justice John Roberts, executed a moderate act and compromised for the good of the people and Congress. However, Republicans are attempting to block this through non-participation, as with Florida Governor Rick Scott, who will not comply with the new law and will not expand medicaid there. And there are ambiguities in the judgment, such as it lacks full support for Medicaid, and its modification of how Congress can employ its powers of taxation. But the decision at least put a damper on the Civil War.
To which institutions lay the responsibility of providing for the people's welfare? On July 1, 1854, Abraham Lincoln said "The legitimate object of government is to do for people what needs to be done... government should do what people cannot do by individual effort."