Decentralization

If You Want To Fix the Country, Devolve Power

Revived federalism is a start, but it doesn’t go far enough.

|

It's a given in American politics that partisans become born-again believers in federalism when their faction is out of power in Washington, D.C., only to lose faith in decentralization the next time they win control of Congress and the presidency. Bossing folks around is, after all, a lot more fun than being bossed around. So, it's refreshing to see in this deeply divided country at least tentative steps towards bipartisan agreement that not every issue should be settled by dictates issued from the nation's capital. As encouraging as it is, though, this grudging acceptance of live-and-let-live doesn't go far enough.

"American federalism has always been a partisan issue — the GOP are the modern advocates," notes Democratic political adviser and former legislator Frank Pignanelli in the Deseret News. "But the left-leaning have reason to be equally suspicious of overreaching nationalism on key issues: privacy, immigration, environment, etc."

Pignanelli joined with Republican counterpart LaVarr Webb to warn of frantic pandemic-era spending and rules-making by first the Trump and then the Biden administrations. "[T]his immense federal intervention comes at the risk of making states even more subservient to the federal government, both financially and with more federal regulation and mandates."

Pignanelli isn't the first Democrat to discover the attractions of decentralization. 

"In the wake of the presidential election, as Democrats realized that Republicans will soon control all three branches of the federal government, progressives disinclined to secede from the Union rediscovered another exit strategy: states' rights," Jeffrey Rosen wrote for The New York Times in 2016. Democrats spent the next several years battling for local governance against the Trump administration's insistence on federal control over matters such as immigration and marijuana.

Since then, Democrats have recaptured the presidency, the House, and (sort of) the Senate. Now they're back to insisting that beltway preferences should prevail—at least when their party's positions on issues such as guns and taxes differ with local preferences.

This back-and-forthing on the value of local control vs. central supremacy is exhausting, not to mention overtly opportunistic. As Pignanelli adds, with Webb's agreement, "Federalism must be a bipartisan issue. Otherwise, it will continue to be subject to the inconsistent whims of elections."

To some extent, this opportunism is baked into American politics, argued Ernest A. Young, then of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, in a 2004 Brooklyn Law Review article about attitudes towards federalism during the War on Terror. He saw switching preferences on central vs. local power as inherent to a system in which elections are won and lost, rotating factions through control of the federal government and localities. "Federalism is about dividing power; nothing much depends on what the power in question is being used for," Young wrote. 

But "[i]t is also about providing institutional space for a diversity of political views" and so is inherently important beyond its utility to whoever lost the last federal election. State and local autonomy functions "as a rallying point for political opposition to national policy" and "assures that a particular faction cannot become entrenched and unaccountable in power."

Or, as Webb put it in the Deseret News, "On issues like gun control and the minimum wage, why not let Wyoming be Wyoming and New York be New York? Half of congressional dysfunction could be eliminated by modestly accepting the diversity of our country."

That political differences are coming into dangerous conflict is obvious not just from the formal contests observed by Pignanelli, Webb, and Young, but from the national tensions and strife of recent years. February polling by CBS News/YouGov found that 57 percent of Republicans think of Democrats not as political opponents, but as "enemies"; 41 percent of Democrats return the sentiment.

"The country is increasingly split into camps that don't just disagree on policy and politics — they see the other as alien, immoral, a threat," Nate Cohn commented in The New York Times last month. It's not an unprecedented problem, he notes, and other countries that have divided into mutually loathing camps have kept the peace and held together through arrangements including "power-sharing agreements, devolution or home rule."

Power-sharing, devolution, or home rule sounds a lot like federalism, come to think of it, and for good reason. Decentralization of power reduces the danger that people will resent top-down decisions that are contrary to their own preferences – and that may even be maliciously intended to hurt "enemies" in a sectarian society. If you believe that people of varied values and preferences shouldn't be forced to live in lockstep, it makes sense to embrace "space for a diversity of political views" and to largely "let Wyoming be Wyoming and New York be New York." 

But the federalism of the Constitution was designed for a nation of about 4 million people; many states and even some counties are now more populous than the whole country was at the founding. Are you really allowing free range for diverse views by devolving control down to the level of a California or a Texas that each contain multitudes sufficient to entertain many more conflicting ideas than the original United States could have contemplated? Even Los Angeles County, with 10 million people, is far larger than the entire United States of 1790.

At this point, real federalism, through the devolution of power, requires more than paying lip service to the existence of states and their ability to set independent policies. Decision-making has to go further down the food chain, at least to the county level, to revive something like the federalism of the Constitution. To the extent possible, power should devolve to individuals whose right to make their own decisions and govern their own lives should be respected. Individual self-rule is about as pure an expression of the distributed power embodied by federalism as you'll find.

Failing that, the major parties will continue to pretend that they care about federalism when they've lost control of Washington, D.C., and discard their faith in the principle when they've regained a grip on the central political apparatus. And the country will continue to descend into sectarianism and strife as they play their opportunistic games.

NEXT: Kingdom of Silence

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. For this to happen, one political party would have to do a 180 and the other party would have to purge itself of most of its leadership.

    Other than that, excellent idea.

    1. Or just outlaw political parties.

      1. I am creating an honest wage from home 3000 Dollars/week , that is wonderful, below a year agone i used to be unemployed during a atrocious economy.AMs I convey God on a daily basis i used to be endowed these directions and currently it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with everybody,
        Here is I started Copy This Link For Full Detail……….. Home Profit System

      2. Earth Skeptic: Libertarian against freedom of association?

    2. ‘Let Mississippi be Mississippi’

      ‘Keep the Okie in Oklahoma’

      ‘West Virginia likes it in the gutter’

      ‘What’s wrong with being deplorable?’

      Do the clingers genuinely expect better Americans to fall for that?

      1. Considering the mute button here.

        Not because I object to different beliefs, perspectives, ideas, or opinions [that really is, or should be, the whole point of coming here].

        But you do. And you contribute absolutely nothing but invective.

        1. I just did it—and enjoyed the experience! Adios, Rev James T Kirk! Carry on, Klingons!

          1. Wow…just came back to see if the place had further devolved and the site actually added a feature to make the comments better. Goodbye, lefty trolls.

      2. Would those better Americans include the crystal healing power NIMBYs in Berkeley and the gang-bangers in Chicago?

      3. “What’s wrong with being deplorable?”

        That depends on the who’s deciding what’s ‘deplorable’, doesn’t it? What if Mike Huckabee from Arkansas were deciding what’s deplorable? (That was the point of the column, in case you missed it.)

        Your choice of states along with ‘deplorable’ sort of gives away your bias, Rev. Do you get out much?

    3. But we don’t have to worry any more. There are no more MEAN TWEETS.

      PROBLEM SOLVED.

      1. What a lame defense of Trump: “no more MEAN TWEETS.”

        As tho everyone who hated his abrasiveness & bullying was a snowflake. Y’know, the flip side of that coin is this: What do you call reasonable people who decide someone’s just being an asshole?

        The problem with Trump’s tweeting is that he didn’t use it to *expand* his party’s base. Instead, he used it to consolidate his power among his own voters and left the country even more divided. Nice work, Mr. Art of the Deal.

        Good riddance (tweets ‘n’ all)!

  2. “Half of congressional dysfunction could be eliminated by modestly accepting the diversity of our country.”

    Good luck with trying to implement that. Woke Progressives will never, ever, ever, ever allow that. The Kens and Karens of Progressivism want to control every aspect of our lives.

    1. Diversity in everything but thought.

      1. That is actually not the case.

        1. The left celebrates diversity in thought? That’s news.

          1. No, my fault for not being clear. Progressives are not particularly diverse in any way; enforced conformity in all things is their way of life.

            1. But they call it “diversity.” Somewhat akin to the North Korean constitution.

              1. Very true.

              2. That, or North Korea’s formal name—DPRK— where “D” stands for “Democratic” and “R” stands for “Republic”

            2. Diversity in race, culture, sexuality, etc…

              But not thought.

          2. Ha ha ha! The Right doesn’t celebrate diversity in thought, either.

            1. On both left and right, some do and some don’t. Progressives, however, seem to be particularly intolerant of differing viewpoints. I’ve never seen a conservative claim to be “unsafe” because someone dares to express a view that they don’t like. At the moment the right is much better at hearing and understanding other points of view. There are still a few left-liberals (McWhorter, Weinstein and others) who are worthy of the name too.

              1. I’ve said that as a general rule conservatives tend to think while progressives tend to feel.

                Trumpism changed that.

                1. Did it change it, or did it change which part of the right (if Trump’s support is even mostly of the right, a lot of his supporters are working class people who would have been democrats several decades ago) people paid attention to? I really don’t know. But I like to think that most people who would choose Trump over the alternatives available take a pretty measured view of him. And the true believers are a loud minority.

  3. What will likely happen is the asleep at the wheel Biden admin is going to ignore inflation signals until it’s too late, causing massive price increases and eventually interest rates to go up while asset values stall or decline. I remember the 70s well and we’re heading for a repeat because senile Joe can’t handle it.

    That may push the ideal of federalism but it will certainly let the GOP sweep the elections and idealistic youth once again rejecting the far left hippie nonsense of their parents.

    1. Personally, I have my doubts that interest rates will rise. The increasing prices will be seen as a signal that more money is needed. We may not get to Venezuela levels of inflation but a $500 hamburger isn’t out of the question.

      1. a $500 hamburger

        That would be around 100,000%; close enough

    2. It’s not because he can’t handle it it’s the plan.

      1. This.

        Inflation is the only way they keep kicking the exploding entitlement can down the road.

        Sure, your retirement will only buy you Sam’s Club cat kibble, no doubt made in China. But hey, look on the bright side: At least your government providing for the consumer, rather than making them the product!

        1. “Sam’s Club cat kibble”

          I suddenly appreciate all of the deer and turkey I see from my bedroom window.

    3. It is too late. This will be far worse than the 70s and there is nothing any president or politician can do about it. Americans got addicted to easy borrowing because of reserve currency status and that’s not going to last.

      There is going to be a massive economic collapse. The only questions are in what form the US will survive, how many other nations will suffer the same fate, and who will be the most powerful nation after the US has failed.

  4. I really like how Tuccille’s premise that support for federalism by either major party is purely utilitarian depending on whether they are in or out of power is directly contradicted by the quote from the Democrat political advisor in the second paragraph, and Tuccille apparently does not even notice it.

    1. Not really. The advisor says the left is suspicious of nationalism, which federalism is supposed to reign in.

      1. He said federalism has always been a partisan issue, and the GOP is the pro federalism side, which implies that the Democrats are temperamentally anti-federalism.

        1. And if you keep reading it says the Democrats are suspicious of nationalism, which implies support for federalism. Or at least implies entertaining the idea.

          I know the cool thing to do here is to pick on Reason writers and accuse them of being leftists, but if you’re gonna do that you could at least be honest about it.

          1. Meaning, correctly call them out for their leftist ideology? = I know the cool thing to do here is to pick on Reason writers and accuse them of being leftists, but if you’re gonna do that you could at least be honest about it.

            That kind of honesty? Or something else?

            1. Meaning, correctly call them out for their leftist ideology?

              Meaning be honest about it. The comment I originally replied to calls out the second paragraph and then ignores the second sentence.

            2. Of all the writers here, I wouldn’t call Tucille any kind of leftist.

      2. Funny thing, in my political development, I’ve defined nationalism as an extension of federalism. For instance, England is England, not the EU. Federalism is just an internal organization of the same concept.

        Yet the biggest critics of nationalism see it as a top down organization of people. Which I get, I guess, but don’t really see it.

        Given the left’s authoritarian bent in promoting government to force us into our boxes, the concept of nationalism requiring top down grouping of people should be welcome by them.

        But as a bottom up organization of finding whatever unites us even at a national level, they don’t really like that much because it means local bonds are stronger and initiated by free association.

    2. “…Tuccille apparently does not even notice it.”

      Maybe he noticed, maybe he didn’t. We will never know because, had he tried to mention it, it surely would not have been published here.

  5. I’ve asked people to imagine what our country might be like if each house of Congress were populated with 3, 4 or 5 different parties where none could achieve a clear majority on their own. A distribution of power requiring broad consensus to pass bills.

    What surprised me where the number of people who can’t conceive of this as it means their team can’t win, some even believing the two party system is enshrined in the constitution.

    The saddest part is the way in which this has been made moot by the willingness of modern presidents to rule by executive fiat and the acquiescence of people ready to accept this behavior. As long as it’s their guy dictating the rules.

    1. I don’t think three parties would do it Will Nonya….but four or more parties could. For coalition governments to work, you need a broad swath. That also means the nature of legislation changes, away from ‘big and bold’ to ‘incremental’ (which is a huge plus).

    2. Or just require that a candidate receive a majority of the eligible voters, not just of votes cast.

      1. Comments like yours are the reason we need upvotes.
        +1

      2. I propose adding “None of the above” to every ballot, and if it wins the office stays empty until the next election.

        1. I particularly like this idea. I would love to see how often NOTA would win.

          1. I recall someone telling me that that was exactly what was happening in the Senate before the 17A. Seats were unfilled because of too much bickering. So they passed the buck.

        2. I’ve been voting “none of the above” for years, no rule necessary.

          1. So have I, but it would be nice if those non-votes had a chance of winning.
            I’ve been saying for the past 4 or 5 presidential elections, why don’t we try without a president for 4 years and see how that goes. Could hardly be worse.

          2. It’s one thing to either blank the ballot, or pick some impossible fringe candidate that will never win. What I think we’re talking about here is a line printed on the ballot that says “none of the above” and can actually be counted as vote to just leave the seat open.

            If nothing else, it might be fun to see some candidate’s heads explode when they realize that the truly are so completely despised.

      3. You have the winning comment of the day, Earth Skeptic.

      4. Or include None of the Above on the ballot.

        1. Oops! Didn’t read far enough before commenting. I often write in my own name.

    3. You can look at what the country would look like by looking at countries that have that system: you get large socialist and fascist parties in parliament (even today), and tiny parties get disproportionate amounts of power.

      It is America’s two party system that has produced “broad consensus” in the past and kept the radicals out of power.

      If you want more of that, require 2/3 majorities for all bills.

      1. “It is America’s two party system that has produced “broad consensus” in the past and kept the radicals out of power.”

        (Remembers Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, LBJ…)

        No, that must be some other country you’re thinking of.

        1. When FDR was in power in the US, Europe had Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin.

          When Lincoln was in power in the US, Europe had continent-wide revolutions.

          The fact that you think of these people as “radical” shows what a sheltered life you have left.

    4. Are you willing to have half a dozen or more parties organized around fairly narrow special interests? That tends to be the trend in other countries.

    5. The answer here may not be more parties but less control by the parties over there members. Members more responsible to their constituents than to their party would help a great deal. I would suggest as a first step to have reapportionment done by nonpolitical committees, then approved by state legislatures. Hopefully this would reduce political gerrymandering, produce more competitive races, and in turn make representatives responsive to a larger group of their constituents.

    6. I’m up for this if the current state wasn’t so inundated with lack of freedom. But currently, that’s not the case. My party winning gets me protection from the other party. So I’m very invested in my party winning even if I wish they’d just bomb the DOE and all they do is just put in a creationist as head instead. At least the creationist won’t be forcing my kids into showers with the opposite sex. Still, would rather the DOE go belly up.

      At this point, strengthening local politics that push nullification seems like the best way forward. I’m still voting for my party to gain control because they protect me from Them. But ultimately, I want my state to be empowered to tell the federal government to go pound sand.

  6. But the left-leaning have reason to be equally suspicious of overreaching nationalism on key issues: privacy, immigration, environment, etc.”

    Citation needed.

  7. He said federalism has always been a partisan issue, and the GOP is the pro federalism side, which implies that the Democrats are temperamentally anti-federalism. jawabe

  8. When the left invokes federalism, what they mean is
    “Abortion and same sex marriage will be legal everywhere, and we can abolish the 2nd Amendment in States we control.”

    1. Bingo. And I’m curious why a ‘libertarian” mag would even consider using New York violating the Second Amendment (a clear constitutional right) as a positive example of what federalism could bring about.

  9. Older, and more fundamental, than centralized vs. distributed government power is society vs. the individual. The founding of the USA probably achieved more for the individual than any nation before then, at least initially. But even then, the factions that presumed the primacy of the official state, from the Puritans in New England to the Neo-aristocrats in the south, outnumbered those who would rather be left alone–and leave others alone.

    Unfortunately, the Mind Your Own Business party, like the Libertarian party, leaves a centralized power vacuum that others are eager to fill.

  10. If you want to fix the country prohibit government from initiating force. I suggest a 28th amendment, “Government shall not initiate force.”

    1. That had better include the kind of “force” utilized by the IRS.

    2. And that’ll be the end of the State.

  11. I don’t understand how immigration should be a states issue. If one state allows illegal immigrants into the country across that state’s border, can neighboring states impose immigration controls of their own? Could Texas restrict travel from California? California allowing unrestricted immigration puts California in charge of the entire country’s immigration policy.
    Immigration is not an issue for federalism.

    1. If we were to continue to exist as a functional nation, there are indeed “federal issues” that need to be addressed on that level. Currency, national defense, interstate commerce [strictly interpreted, and not include “non commerce” as commerce], and as you say, immigration. I do not thing anyone is seriously arguing for a confederacy here.

      1. I am, only in as much as that’s the least power anyone will consider.

        Currency: States can mint gold and silver. Done.
        National Defense: Attacking North America is the single worst military decision on Earth. Done.
        Interstate commerce: Let the free States make unilateral free trade agreements and let the unfree States hurt their own people by restricting trade. Done.
        Immigration: Let the unfree States pay through the nose for their welfare and various other “public goods” and let the free States allow free movement of peoples, without subsidizing or using force against them (it’s a private issue, or at most a private property issue anyway). That’s been the historical norm until very recently. Otherwise, don’t let anyone get away with initiating force. Done.

        1. Have to see I like it, but I do have a question re:

          “Attacking North America is the single worst military decision on Earth. Done.”

          I never attended the War College so cannot claim to be a military strategist [beyond playing “Risk” in college, that and reading a lot of history]; you mentioned the same in response to me the other day, and I do not doubt that you have good reason for saying this [elucidate, if you will]; but I am not at all sure I would be comforted with any assumptions given the nature of the world, and being vulnerable [nations have OFTEN behaved in ways, especially militarily, that do not make any objective sense].

          1. Let’s assume that China (biggest other military, 2nd biggest economy) decided to attack somewhere “easy” in N America. First off, they’d need a massive Navy to get across the Pacific. Next, pick a good landing spot with few people, let’s say the Canadian Pacific coast. Well, the ships would be seen days before they could land, and the Canadian military, as well as a lot of Canadian hillbillies (yes, they do exist) would gladly meet them with a wall of lead.
            Now, imagine if the Red State people heard about this invasion. There would be a literal “invasion” of private Americans, armed to the teeth, driving as fast as they could towards the landing zone so they could “kill a commie for mommy”. There would be the metaphorical “gun behind every blade of grass”. This also assumes nukes don’t exist.
            I’d rather try to invade Russia in the winter or “mud season” (look it up), or try to nation build in Afghanistan than invade N America.
            But, you are wrong about one thing. States will behave rationally, even if they make incorrect decisions. The reason why nukes haven’t been used in war since 1945 is because States seek to increase or protect their own power, and ruling over 1 working economy is better than ruling over 2 nuked economies. States aren’t irrational, they just miscalculate (often) and have different objectives than their people (almost always). Still, no-one has yet miscalculated bad enough to risk these kinds of wars.
            States are very, very hesitant to do anything that has a high probability to kill them off entirely. They’ll kill lots of their people, sure, but not their power.

            1. Wow, since the mute button [our own “nuclear option?” I’ve actually enjoyed genuine, civil discourse on this site several times.

              Such as yours, thank you.

              But unless we as a country can continue MAD potential with countries like China and Russia, I would not assume they wouldn’t employ neutron bombs; kill off the animal life and just take over everything that’s left?

              And as for Yamamoto’s “gun behind every blade of grass,” from what I see now there would just as likely be a reception party to a communist invasion. We would have to fight both an internal and an external enemy, who would welcome the “help” and “liberation.”

  12. Nice thoughts, but in reality the belief of most people I encounter is if the right person wins, then our way will prevail. Politics in the US is a zero sum, I win, you lose, winner takes all paradigm. Most people here, as noted above, cannot even begin to conceive of coalition governments as exist in Europe. This has only become more so over the past couple of decades, as notions of moral superiority has been injected into our political discourse [and for this, Obama does indeed deserve a prize or some sort].

  13. Seeing this, and reading it, made me want to immediately create an account and to comment about a different article of another publication I read about two weeks ago, that REALLY got into the weeds of locality.

    https://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2021/04/self-government-starts-at-the-front-porch/

    1. Very good read, and one that encourages further exploration of “Lockean freedom” and the necessity of the people regaining a measure of control, or at least a greater part in, our governmental institutions. Essential that we at least “reserve power to the States respectively, or to the people” if we truly want to live as free people who enjoy natural and inalienable rights.

      1. Specifically, which federal law do you find yourself most burdened by?

        Do you think your state government will decrease its control over you at the same time the federal government does? How does that work? Is there new physics?

        1. “Specifically, which federal law do you find yourself most burdened by?”

          The ones that spend money (that is stolen, directly or indirectly).

          “Do you think your state government will decrease its control over you at the same time the federal government does?”

          They may, only because “daddy” wouldn’t be there to bail them out when the “pitchforks” come out.

          I am noting that the concept of having less total government control over people’s lives is something you cannot comprehend. There is historical precedent, BTW.

          1. I’m aware that there’s precedent. There was much less government in pre-industrial times and currently in pre-industrial places. Also malaria.

            But I’m from the Bible belt. The only thing going on now are genocidal laws against the disfavored minority du jour (it’s trans people today, it could be you tomorrow). After generations of genocidal laws against gays, black people, and latinos. Not to mention all the corruption, which libertarianism has nothing to offer to prevent except hand-waves.

            1. “There was much less government in pre-industrial times and currently in pre-industrial places. Also malaria.”

              Your fallacy is post hoc ergo propter hoc. It’s got a Latin name, so that shows just how long people have been making this mistake and how little you know compared to “modern” people!

              “The only thing going on now are genocidal laws against the disfavored minority du jour”

              Huh. I’ve never seen bounties on trans people. Maybe your definition of “genocide” is a bit different from …the dictionary.

              “After generations of genocidal laws against gays, black people, and latinos”

              You mean the Jim Crow laws that the Democrats loved?

              ” Not to mention all the corruption, which libertarianism has nothing to offer to prevent except hand-waves.”

              It’s really easy, Tony. Power corrupts, and in an increasing manner. So, with less power, there will be less corruption. After all, why bribe someone who has now power?

              But, again, you have no ability to hold the concept of anything other than growing power of the State (read: government) in your head. It’s your god, and you cannot conceive of life without it.

              1. *no power. Edit button!

              2. Your hand-wave of Jim Crow is particularly flappy. The parties aren’t even the same as they were 5 years ago, let alone 100. Stupid, vacuous talking point. Fine, so they were Democrats. Now it’s Republicans trying to steal people’s basic rights. Let them call themselves Trump Nutsack Cockles for all these terms matter to the subject at hand.

                “Just take away their power, c’mon guys!”

                I don’t know what this means, after so long. You give someone the power of the state, by definition they have the monopoly on violence. All libertarians want to do is take away checks and balances on people with the power to do violence, be they public or private-sector. I don’t think you even know what you’re talking about.

                But I do. You’re talking about a specific set of draconian, horrible government laws with a bumper sticker on them that says “freedom.”

                It can only work if there are people stupid enough to vote for it.

  14. How on God’s green fuck does increasing the power of states over individuals decrease state power over individuals?

    The only argument that has ever been offered for reducing the power of the US federal government is so that states can oppress black people in peace.

    And it makes sense because, to the individual, it hardly matters what logo is on the shirt of the jackass who’s oppressing you.

    Libertarianism is the philosophy of maximum shittiness. Authoritarian control in the states and at the office… just so long as no pesky federal libs are poking around the mini-tyrants’ business.

    1. Tony, are you getting stupider? I swear there was a time when you didn’t always miss the point this badly.

      1. I really think he is a created straw man, just to provide an opportunity to show how ridiculous his assumptions are.

        “Specifically, which federal law do you find yourself most burdened by?”

        There are, at best estimate, over 360,000 federal laws and regulations; there are seriously too many to count; and this fool asks a question like that? What in your life is not subject to some level of federal regulation and intrusion [your appliances, how much electricity your dishwasher can use, what books your children study in school, they lesson plans, what is in the food you eat…]; problem is the numbskull thinks this is all totally wonderful, and wants more of it. Needs a big ole momma to make sure everything is fair and square.

        And then “The only argument that has ever been offered for reducing the power of the US federal government is so that states can oppress black people in peace.”

        I think he [or the straw man] actually and sincerely believes this drivel; there is no point in discussing something on the level of water is evil because people drown in it.

        There was a discussion earlier today as to who has muted anyone, and of course this particular pants wetter came up; some find him amusing, others just see as an opportunity to refute such perverse thinking. I’m going for mute.

        So long Tony; you’ve wasted enough of my time.

        1. What a pity that you’ve chosen to stop listening when you’re still in thrall to a bunch of nonsense bullshit

          All I want to know is how giving my Bible-thumping state government more power over my life increases my freedom. The feds have never done any harm to me, even when it was run by psychopaths. Meanwhile all my actual rights are up for debate in my state legislature as we speak.

          All I ask is that you examine your beliefs for what they’re worth.

          1. Why do you think the States will have the ability to claim more power? Show your work.

            What rights do you have, Tony? Show your work.

            1. Because “states rights” has only ever been about the right to oppress undesirables without federal interference. See: the Civil War. See: the Jim Crow era. See: Today, where states are wrapping their Trump-worshipping mitts around the right to vote itself every day as we speak.

              States have rarely had a good record of being more progressive on individual rights than the country as a whole, except occasionally California.

              Your state is who will put you in a cage or murder you for a traffic infraction. An actual literal cage. If you’re at risk for the same from the federal government, it usually means you committed an actual serious crime.

              1. “Because “states rights” has only ever been about the right to oppress undesirables without federal interference.”

                Wrong. First of all, States have no rights, ever. Second, there is a 10th Amendment, supposedly to stop Federal overreach. Third, is the same true of States “nullifying” Federal gun or immigration laws? How about the Fugitive Slave act?

                “States have rarely had a good record of being more progressive on individual rights…”

                The term “progressive” has no meaning between you and me. Use a different word. Also, see above.

                “Your state is who will put you in a cage or murder you for a traffic infraction.”

                Some may try. But, if I know where the people live, and they do that to my family, they won’t be able to do that very long, now will they?

                Now, who puts people in Guantanamo Bay? Who orders drone strikes to kill weddings, and/or American citizens? Who drafts people (in the last 120 years, at least)? Who nukes civilian centers? Who supports the military industrial complex?

                What rights do you have, Tony? Show your work.

                1. There’s a lot of room for us to agree about the many bad things the US government has done to human beings domestically and overseas.

                  But it was states that fought a war to preserve slavery, and those same states are now clamoring to restrict the right to vote based on a treasonous lie.

                  It remains the case that if you find yourself in a government cage, it will almost certainly be a local cop who puts you there. So when I say “progressive” I simply mean attentive to individual human rights. What do you mean when you say “freedom”?

                  What rights do I have? Unfortunately I have to ask you to define rights. I like mine written down so there’s less chance for disagreement, but if you want to have rights that exist as mere assertions in the wind, I’m sure your local cop will take that under advisement when you resist him.

                  1. “I like mine written down so there’s less chance for disagreement.”

                    You’re in luck: you can write in this comment section!

                  2. “I simply mean attentive to individual human rights.”

                    How in the ever living fuck does increasing the power of the federal government over individuals decrease federal power over individuals?

                    1. I don’t want the federal government to increase power over individuals, mostly just corporations and states.

                    2. You can’t increase power over corporations and states because they aren’t real.

                      If you can’t see how whatever power you’re giving the government is power over people, then you’re just dabbling in a fantasy world. I really don’t have time for that.

                    3. Corporations and states are as real as individuals are.

                      There is no mote of mystical goo at the center of it all. We’re all just apes with language. Nobody’s figured it all out yet, but among the things we have indeed figured out is the fact that laissez-faire dogma is warmed-over horseshit. It was all a lie. Just ask the people who made it up.

                    4. Corporations and states are real, to the extent that you recognize they include people.

                      Hence, your distinction from people is irrational.

                    5. Anyway, that’s a particularly numerous irrationality of the left nowadays:

                      Corporations can’t have rights because they’re not people. But they can obey regulations even though they’re not people. And they can pay taxes even though they’re not people. They just can’t have rights because they’re not people.

                      How obviously irrational.

                2. I muted him; have wasted too much time but, as others have pointed out, responses such as yours do render him some value.

                  1. I honestly can’t even imagine what it must be like to have the entire internet at your disposal but only to go to places that confirm what I already believe.

                    Good beliefs stand up to tests. Bad beliefs should be discarded. It shouldn’t take so much pussy-ass whining to do, either. Nobody cares if you were wrong yesterday.

                    1. Don’t assume that someone doesn’t want to hear anyone else’s opinions just because they don’t want to hear yours.

                      You could try offering something my barista hasn’t told me already.

                    2. You could try listening to your barista.

                      I’m a fan of ideas that aren’t that complicated. I don’t think any of this is that complicated. You believe a bunch of lies peddled by evil charlatans so egregious in their efforts, they’re all either a) confessing that they were lying to you the whole time, b) supporting a ridiculous clown fascist, or c) <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Hastert&quot; in prison for raping children after having spend decades pretending to be offended by the moral infractions of Democrats.

                    3. The world is complex, Tony, and needs complex ideas.

                      If you need the world to be simplistic to match your policy prescriptions, then perhaps your problem is that you’re too simplistic.

    2. “How on God’s green fuck does increasing the power of states over individuals decrease state power over individuals?”

      Easy: stop assuming that states want more power over individuals.

      See: marijuana legalization.

      “The only argument that has ever been offered for reducing the power of the US federal government is so that states can oppress black people in peace.”

      A completely ignorant comment. See above.

      Wherever you’re getting your news: go find more.

  15. “How on God’s green fuck does increasing the power of states over individuals decrease state power over individuals?”

    You don’t get it. We know.

    We also know you will never get it because you don’t want to get it.

    But, just to make things clear to anyone reading who does not already know that you are both a moron and a troll: Devolving power is only increasing State governments power at the expense of Federal government power.

    ie. There is no net increase.

    1. And decreasing the federal government’s power and not increasing states’ power is also a possibility. And the one we should really be going for.

  16. It needs to start with people getting their children out of indoctrination factories. Unfortunately, kids are “learning” that politicians and beaurocrats are beneficent and competent.

    1. That may be the one national benefit of the entire Covid Shutdown Scam. All of a sudden the curtain has been pulled back and we are all seeing the truth of what has been going on.

  17. If you want to devolve power, devolve politicians. Chimpanzees can’t craft a trillion-dollar spending bill.

      1. Not so sure about the equal rights for ostriches thing, but any political party with a link to Robert Anton Wilson is my kind of place.

        1. And after reading their position paper, I support the ostriches.

  18. The answer here is more than New York and Wyoming. A big part of the issues the makeup within the states and particularly the urban/rural divide. If say, we let Georgia decide what is best for Georgia, does that let Atlanta be Atlanta and rural Georgia be rural Georgia? Or do we say that one part of the state can overrule the rest? This can be particularly sticky when one part of the state is providing the largest share of revenue and yet political power is organized in the other parts of the state.

    1. Let’s just devolve all power to the level of the household and be done with it.

    2. Good observation M4E; the divide between urban and a vast hinterlands is indeed where it happens. I’ve wondered the same; but at least States being the locus of real power would place governance at a more local level; you would just have to decide if you can stand living under Albany [and the choice of NYC voters] in upper New York, or move to Montana.

    3. Provides revenue for whom?

      The way it ought to work is that people decide locally on taxation and other issues.

      If there are statewide issues, then the state should get the local governments to agree to cooperate and chip in from their local revenues.

      Rural Georgia may not want rich Atlantans to day-trip out to them or build suburban homes in their neighborhoods, and they certainly don’t want to be taxed to pay for the privilege and be told that all of this is an “investment” in their infrastructure.

  19. Glad to see that the issue of devolving power is not just reverting to the bullshit and evil of ‘states rights’. There is a legal conflict between truly devolved govt at the muni/first level (Cooley Doctrine) v state imposing subordinate levels of govt (Dillon Rule). Unfortunately the Constitution (and thus federal appeals courts) is completely beholden to the Dillon Rule notion because states are what exist in the structure of the Senate. Neither party is even willing to expand the House much less restructure the Senate. And third parties are even more into the national agenda-framing than the DeRps are. Not much hope.

    That said – it would be pretty easy to get rid of the segregationist poison of ‘states rights’ – The preservation of this “Home Rule” by the States is not a cry of jealous Commonwealths seeking their own aggrandizement at the expense of sister States. It is a fundamental necessity if we are to remain a truly united country. The whole success of our democracy has not been that it is a democracy wherein the will of a bare majority of the total inhabitants is imposed upon the minority, but that it has been a democracy where through a division of government into units called States the rights and interests of the minority have been respected and have always been given a voice in the control of our affairs. – FDR Home Rule Speech 1930

  20. The whole reason for Federalism was that the the level of government best suited to handle a particular problem gets the job.
    We’ve twisted that to mean that every level gets a hand at every problem.
    For example, the internet is clearly interstate commerce, and should be the prerogative of the federal sphere. Yet we have states passing digital privacy laws. We also have the federal government attempting to direct police departments, which are clearly in the state and local area of expertise.

    1. The reason for federalism was fundamental principles of self-determination and individual liberties.

      We don’t know what the “best level” is for addressing problems. Progressives can make a plausible sounding argument that the “best level” for any problem is the federal level, so if you reason based on utility, you have already lost.

  21. This would be more convincing if the “small government” party most of you are 100% devoted to wasn’t currently an authoritarian cult hellbent on doing nothing but harassing trans people. And I don’t see how you Build a Wall across state lines with a strict adherence to federalism.

    You gotta convince me that it’s not just gonna be one set of insane fascistic federal policy preferences acting under the guise of local control. We have to be careful, because fascists are extremely skilled at skullfucking language. The libertarian movement owes its existence to this practice, one could argue.

    1. You’re yelling at cats right now, aren’t you?

      1. What on earth would be the point of that?

        1. Besides your idea of a good time?

  22. Great idea! Step One: Congrab reign in the SCOTUS. Start now because you will not be alive when it is finally accomplished

  23. Reason supported the most power hungry, corrupt Presidential candidate in US history in the last election and now wants to devolve power? Reason, what a bunch of screw ups!!!

  24. Personally, I don’t mind paying people not to work in a pandemic as much as I mind forcing people to not work. Diversity and all. The right thing to do is usually not the exact same thing for every person in every situation. Some people can safely do things others can’t. We should let people make those choices.

    Paying someone to stay home is much more moral, respectful, and less disruptive than forcing them to stay home with the brutish Neanderthal power of the state.

    In fact, I wish they would adopt that idea in more places. Do they want me to take care of the unemployed? Then pay me to. Don’t force me to. If you care so much, pony up the money that makes it worth my while. You would do so if you really cared.

    But they don’t care. They want to use the brutish Neanderthal power of the state to make me care for them. At that point, there’s not much sense in talking, since they’ve gave up conversation to moment they reached for the clubs.

    I just wish they would make up their minds. Am I am amoral person for not wanting to be forced to take care of all this stuff they don’t want to? Then go care yourself and take care of it, if you’re so high and mighty. And try putting your Neanderthal clubs down and talk me into it.

    Oh, now that the clubs are out, morality is a lie? Then stop telling me how amoral I am for wanting to decide what I do with my time, effort, and rewards. At least I’m not using a club.

    In short, I just wish they could decide between being great moral scolds and being above morality.

  25. Why is it a really nasty state of conflict? Democrats are now the employees and owners of Government because of Public Employees Unions.

  26. Before you can start fixing something you need to recognize what is breaking it.

    The woke cancel culture’s attack on our inalienable constitutional rights.

  27. “”On issues like gun control and the minimum wage, why not let Wyoming be Wyoming and New York be New York?”

    The Right to Bear Arms is Constitutional. Why is a “libertarian” magazine even suggesting it might be allowable under Federalism for New York, or any state, to regulate it?

    1. Fantastic, we’re stuck with the shitty parts of our state governments and the shitty parts of the federal government, and none of the good shit. Oh tell me more about this wonderful political philosophy I’m under no obligation whatsoever to even care about?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.