Liberal idealism is something I try my hardest to stay away from; however, it is contagious and I can’t help myself from participating in such a tempting diversion. Accordingly, I will present the seemingly absent concept of strong federalism that just may solve some of the issues facing this country in regard to the partisan schism and lack of change that we so openly, and frequently, criticize.
Federalism is the idea that a territory (in our case, states) is governed by two levels of government: an overarching national government, and then a more local subdivision. We have a certain level of this here in the states and, that’s all and good, but in a country where we’re considering a socialist candidate, why not an attempt at a complete federalist state? So, let’s get theoretical.
Each level of government would have a certain level of autonomy over the other, per the discrepancy of the Supreme Court. It would be a national status that would allow for varying laws and practices contingent on each state’s respective constitution. A nation where Texas could have regulated but acceptable gun rights; meanwhile, Massachusetts could abolish the Second Amendment. It’d be a nation where Colorado, California, and Washington D.C. can have legal, recreational marijuana, while Wyoming can criminalize its use with punishments equivalent with that of possessing heroin.
Each state would have it’s own culture, it’s own educational system, and it’s own economic policies. It would give the socialists a chance to put their theories to the test in a communal state of Vermont, and Kansas can live in an anarchical state governed by some newly discovered evangelical doctrine. The country would become a laboratory for political systems that neutral states could observe, study, and apply to their own state. Further, when political theories are put into practice (as they are much more feasible at the local level) they become accepted, or law. This practice would catalyze action and eliminate the gridlock keeping this country from moving forward. Again, per the enforcement of the national constitution, no obscene laws that violate the individual rights guaranteed by being an American citizen would be passed at the state level.
I see it as an opportunity for the United States to move forward, one may even say progress, yet maintain the values that the political right has, and will continue to fight for. It’s a means to compromise, without really confronting the issues that a realist knows will not be resolved in the foreseeable future.
It could be a sort of U.S. Union where you enter freely throughout state lines, but abide by the varying respective laws. It would be a nation of nearly independent states, united by federal law, currency, and overarching nationalism. The latter is of specific concern; if people identify with their own state before their country the implications could be reminiscent of the current state of Spanish regional tension (Cataluña, because of the lack of shared culture with the rest of Spain, is on the verge of seceding). The citizen needs to respond, “I am an American” before they say, “I’m an Ohioan” or “I’m a Floridian.” Maintenance of federal loyalty is imperative to the successful execution of a federalist state, yet it is an inherent flaw of territorial division.
Strong federalism has its pros and cons, but it doesn’t matter, because it won’t happen. The theory is strong, just like many other valid political systems, but we just won’t do it here—and I understand why. We will continue this governmental standstill until someone is elected with a rational congress to match. I guess we’ll find out in a year.