This Isn’t Working. How About a Little Federalism?

Michael Hausam
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Posted: Nov 13, 2016 12:35 AM
This Isn’t Working. How About a Little Federalism?

If you live anywhere other than along either coast or in the handful of big cities in flyover country, there are huge swaths of Americans who are really really really upset with you. You’ve foiled their plans and made it much more difficult for them to tell you what to do.

In many big cities, including just up the 405 freeway from me in downtown Los Angeles, protesters are going nuts, signaling their fury over the prospect of a Donald Trump Presidency. They were certain that Hillary would win and the rejection of her, via the Electoral College system and rules of the game that were agreed upon long in advance, is something they’ve yet to able to accept.

There may be, however, some common ground between these almost-at-war factions, or at least a way forward.

The Tenth Amendment Constitution specifically arranged for states to be experimental proving grounds, able to decide for themselves how their residents should be governed: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Of course, this amendment is all-but ignored in the practice of present-day politics. Almost every issue is expanded to a nationwide scope. The alphabet soup list of Federal bureaucracies has its myriad-tentacled hands into everything. In many very real senses, the differences between the states, in terms of the freedoms within they are able to function, are largely symbolic.

Perhaps it’s time for this to change. The divides within the country are large indeed and that diversity is a very bad thing when a one-size-fits-all approach is forced from D.C..

As David Burge (@IowaHawkblog) put it so excellently in a recent Twitter rant on this topic: “People in SF don't want to be ruled by stump-toothed hillbillies, and people in Kentucky don't want to be ruled by bathhouse pervs. Okay.”

But it will take some serious hard work.

Another point to this, excellently raised by Charles C.W. Cooke last week, should appeal to those so upset by Trump’s win: the less impact the Federal government has on a particular state, the less important the actions/ideas/policies of the President.

The American tradition of individual choices and liberty is dying, especially on the “liberal” left. An Oregon baker makes a decision about with whom they want to do business? Law firms from across the country rally to thwart them. An Indiana pizzeria has an opinion? Activists from far and wide are bussed in to stop them.

That’s going to have to stop.

Remember your parents telling you to “mind your own business,” when you weren’t minding your own business? Federalism allows states to mind their own business. If Colorado or Washington want to allow pot smoking, it shouldn’t concern those living in Missouri or Mississippi. If Californians want to destroy businesses with a $15 minimum wage, South Dakotans can ignore it.

This will definitely take some getting used to. A Marxist vegan activist in Seattle is going to have to be OK not being able to control the protein choices at a Sioux City burger joint. A fundamentalist Southern Baptist in Topeka is going to have to be OK with the lack-of-costume choices at a theater in West Hollywood.

I certainly can get behind a live-and-let-live approach, can you?