Today is December 19, 2016. In a few hours, the electors who make up the Electoral College will cast their votes. No one knows what the result of that vote will be, of course, but the most likely outcome is that Donald Trump will be confirmed as the next president of the United States.
If that’s what happens, Trump, the man-child who cannot tolerate anyone who disagrees with him, will likely proceed to tear America apart as his puerile antics and legendary temper tantrums alienate most thoughtful Americans and drive a deep wedge between America and the global community of nations.
If the unexpected happens and the Electoral College does what it was designed to do — which is keep a madman out of the Oval Office — the lunatics who support this egomaniac will tear the country apart as they take to the streets with their assault rifles, bazookas, anti-tank weapons, and flamethrowers in protest.
Either way, a country that survived the rampage of stupidity that was the George W. Bush presidency will be unable to survive a Donald Trump reign of terror without seismic changes to its culture, laws, and ideals.
There are those who think the United States is now ungovernable. It is too big with too many people and too many divergent points of view to ever function as a cohesive whole. For the past 20 years, I have heard ideas from thoughtful people who suggest the nation would work better if it was a loose affiliation of 3 smaller nations, similar in concept to the European Union.
That idea would never work, of course. It would provoke another civil war. I have a different proposal — one I like to call the New Federalism. It is, in essence, states’ rights on steroids. In the New Federalism, the power of the federal government would be greatly diminished. States would be free to set their own policies according to the wishes of their inhabitants. No longer would the subject of abortion, same sex marriage, gun rights, mandatory minimums, educational policy, and all the other issues that divide Americans today be dictated by federal law.
Under the New Federalism, if Texas and Mississippi want to execute persons of color out of all proportion to their numbers, so be it. If they want to send their children to school with assault rifles in their backpacks, fine. If they want to burn gay people at the stake like the Puritans did to witches 300 years ago, go for it. If they want to force all radio stations to play Lynyrd Skynyrd 24 hours a day and make Fox News the only television channel their citizens can watch, what’s wrong with that?
More importantly, if they want to strip their citizens of the ability to obtain health care and terminate Social Security for their residents over 65, they would be free to do so. Have a party. Make your states places where the very wealthy rule every aspect of life while everyone else works endlessly until they take their dying breath. It worked pretty well in feudal Europe. It would probably work here as well.
Black people, Mexicans, Muslims, and anyone who doesn’t speak English fluently would be deported until nothing but white faces are seen from Savannah to El Paso. Think of it. No one would ever have to work with, live next door to, or interact with someone who doesn’t look, act, speak, or dress like them ever again. It would be heaven on earth.
On the other hand, states where people have other ideas could set their own social norms. Their residents would be free to promote clean, renewable energy, construct social safety nets for their sick or aged, allow people to smoke marijuana, and provide an education that teaches critical thinking skills instead of how to be automatons.
In the New Federalism, the states would help fund the military so it could do its constitutionally mandated job of defending our shores, but otherwise they would collect their own tax revenue and use it to benefit their citizens directly, rather than relying on a gang of thieves in Congress to grudgingly send a little back where it came from.
People in the so-called red states are endlessly whining about “the takers,” people who they believe consume more resources than they create. Let’s take a look at which states send more money to the federal treasury than they receive in return. Below is a map created by The Atlantic in 2014. The dark blue states send far more money to Washington than they get back. The light gray states are the ones who are sucking hardest at the public breast. If you click the link above, you can mouse over all 50 states and see where each ranks among its peers.
Isn’t it curious how the “taker” states tend to be the same ones where people scream the loudest about “takers?” They complain incessantly about welfare queens, yet they are the same people who shoulder their way to the head of the line to get handouts from the federal government. Don’t you find that curious? Isn’t it the perfect embodiment of the “Do as I say, not as I do” mindset that is at the heart of all hypocrisy? In the New Federalism, states would keep the money their citizens earn and use it to benefit those same citizens.
Here’s what would happen in the New Federalism: People would simply move to whatever states have a culture that most suits their own world view. If you are liberal, you would move to a liberal state. If you are a conservative, you would move to a conservative state. If the taker states suddenly find themselves with no one left to do the work that needs to be done, they may have to do the unthinkable — raise wages and benefits in order to convince people to stay! How sweet would that be?
It is one of the most enduring conundrums of modern America that California, which has the most liberal government in the nation with the highest taxes and the most environmental regulations, is also the leading state when it comes to job creation. Entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world flock to California to start their businesses. That makes no sense if you listen to all the Tea Party whiners in Washington, but it is so.
States’ rights was the rallying cry for generations in conservative states as the justification for restricting voting rights and making black people second-class citizens. The concept was really just a repackaging of the Jim Crow laws that went into effect after the Civil War. Why not take that notion and turn it on its head? Why not make states’ rights the rallying cry for Americans who want to live in a progressive society where all lives matter, not just some?
The Tea Party conservatives want to shrink the size of the federal government. Fine. Let’s give them their wish by transferring control back to the states. Let’s shut down the think tanks and Gucci shod lobbyists who will have nothing left to do.
The idea that we are one big happy country is an illusion that died when cars lost their tail fins. It’s time to put it to rest and move on. We are a nation that is flawed and fatally divided. Why not celebrate those divisions and let the people decide how they want to live without being told what to do by Washington?
The New Federalism. It’s an idea whose time has come. Spread the word.
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