An idea for “federalism” in the Fifty States

A thought experiment…

In Virginia, the Assembly meets and pushes the anti-gun agenda of the tiny majority of the Democratic hoploclasts who won back in November. And 91 of the Commonwealth’s 95 counties (and 141 jurisdictions overall), have declared themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” This opposition to the state government is not unprecedented, but rare. Nor is it limited to Virginia.

In an era of ever more powerful government, the problem is more serious than ever before. What problem? The tyranny of a majority, especially when a republic has corrupted into a democracy.

Consider this map:

Half the Population of Each U.S. State
Red Counties: have at least 50% of the population of their state.

Anyone who has at least some familiarity with various states can see how this population distribution creates major problems in virtually every state. (Alaska and Hawai’i, not shown above, are similarly distributed.) There are of course many other ways this 50%+ could be divvied out in most states, but the general idea is obvious.

Look at Colorado: Six counties (Denver, Boulder, Jefferson (Lakewood and Arvada), Douglas, Arapahoe (Aurora and Littleton), and El Paso (Colorado Springs), together dominate the State. Of these, only El Paso lacks Democratic (“liberal,” Tranzi, Regressivist) dominance. No wonder there was an attempt a few years ago to break “Northern Colorado” away as a new state. No wonder Weld County (Greeley and much of Northern Colorado) is now seeing an attempt to leave Colorado and join Wyoming (article on KGAB Radio).

Of course, California is the classic case: the northern tier of counties has tried various times to secede (and join with Oregon counties) to form the State of Jefferson. And there are presently active movements to secede: not just parts of the State (the New California movement and others) but the entire state (CalExit or “Yes California”). The point is made that California is ungovernable – especially as a unitary state where simple majorities force minorities to submit to things they believe evil.

Now look at Virginia: half (actually more than half) of the population is concentrated along a “strip city” stretching from Northern Virginia’s Beltway communities down to Richmond and then to the Hampton Roads metropolitan area.

For decades, the people of West River (that part of South Dakota west of the Missouri River) have chaffed at the economic and political domination of East River. The map shows it is worse than that: a single row of counties on the extreme eastern edge of the State resembling Minnesota culturally, economically, and politically than the vast majority of South Dakota.

And in Minnesota, the same problem exists: the fiercely and extremely Progressive political control of Minneapolis-St. Paul rules the rest of the State, often with an iron hand. (And I use “Progressive” literally: there is officially no “Democratic Party” in Minnesota; the Democratic-Farm-Labor Party is a descendant of the Progressive Party and movement in the State.)

Kansas and Nebraska, too, are dominated by the very small portions of the state where the big city dwellers, with their different problems and views of life, live. Almost every State has some version of this problem.

As partisan lines are drawn harder and harder, there is less and less willingness on the part of the Regressivists (the “liberals” and their ilk) to live and let live, in many States. They find themselves disarmed, having their free speech and traditions banned and punished, and their taxes not just stolen but used for more and more objectionable matters.

At the same time, in States which are dominated by Conservative political factions (usually Republican), the liberals find themselves having to live with and accept conditions that they find intolerable. Setting aside the essential (and ignored) idea of individual liberty, they are angry that they cannot ban guns in their cities, that they cannot kill unborn babies without limit, and that they cannot punish preachers and “religious nuts” for not promoting homosexual “marriage” and open bathroom policies.

In both cases, the minority in the state is dominated by a majority which they find increasingly repugnant and extreme.

Although less extreme, in 1787, this is much the same problem that the Founding Fathers faced in the Thirteen States; the Union established by the Articles of Confederation.

Their solution was federalism: limit the power of the national government to specific powers, and leave the rest to the member States. It actually has worked pretty well, as history usually goes.

Would it not also work in the individual States? Not necessarily devolving power within a federal framework clear down to counties and municipalities, but far more than we see today. Where State governments become more coordinating organizations than governing ones? Where California is made up not of three different States, but six or eight regions, still all part of the State of California, organized and exercising most of the powers now exercised by Sacramento and the General Assembly and governor? Or three or four regions of Virginia: Northern Virginia (“the Beltway State”) and the Shenandoah, Southern Virginia, the Tidewater, and so on?

It would not be perfect, and there would still be way too much government. Even if some cities and county governments were eliminated in some States. But it might preserve many liberties in much of the Fifty States, and even let them be restored in many areas, buying time to resolve the issues that so divide Americans. More time to act and less need to react in bitterness and fear. Ultimately it could reduce both federal and state power. But legally, it could be a nightmare.

At least, that is the idea. I doubt it would work or be desirable in every State – or even most. And it would require the politicians to give up way too much power (in their eyes) and for the nanny types to lose their power and influence.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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5 Responses to An idea for “federalism” in the Fifty States

  1. Pingback: An idea for “federalism” in the Fifty States – Rational Review News Digest

  2. Mike says:

    One thing worthy of investigation is adoption of a form of the electoral college in states. Virginia, for example, has 95 counties and 38 cities, and ~8.1 million residents statewide. 42% of those residents – ~3.4 million – are concentrated in 5 of those counties and 3 of the cities, with those 8 jurisdictions beneficiaries of lots of federal and state payroll spending, a classic case of dog wagging.

    Other states are in the same boat – the 5 boroughs of NYC run New York, the 50-mile-deep California coastal strip rules California, Texas is about to be controlled by Houston, Dallas and Austin, Chicago and Cook County have controlled Illinois for decades. As urbanization increases those not in the big cities are going to be shut out of the process and run over.


    • TPOL Nathan says:

      Mike, your idea is genius.
      In fact, that is the way several – if not most – states were organized years ago. Some, like Rhode Island, which is a merger of two colonies: Providence Plantations and Rhode Island – had a federation that ensured equal representation for the two colonies. I believe that Massachusetts may have had something similar with Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts Bay and Maine.
      Many states had their senate (upper house) districts organized based on distinct geographic regions, usually having urban areas separate from rural, reservations, and frontier areas. However, this all went away in a SCOTUS case, Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964), which enforced the “Equal Protection” Clause and the doctrine of “one-man, one-vote.” To my way of thinking, the Warren Court confused (as so many do) the difference between a democracy and a republic, and required that both houses of state legislatures be apportioned by population and NOT by county or region. Virtually immediately, the urban areas began to dominate the various states, and in the last 50+ years this has grown steadily worse. It was supposed to protect minority voting rights – but minority as defined pretty much solely by race, and not by occupation, heritage/culture, history, or economic interests. And at least some people think it harmed even racial minority rights, due to gerrymandering and other tactics.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: An idea for “federalism” in the Fifty States — The Price of Liberty | The zombie apocalypse survival homestead

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