WHY STATES MATTER
The state has a very important place in our government structure that we’ve collectively either been blind to, or have simply forgotten over the years since our founding. Our system of federalism was designed in such a way as to vest in the states “numerous and indefinite” powers, while greatly limiting those of the federal government to the “few and defined” found within the Constitution.
Unfortunately, over time, it has become more and more commonplace to turn to the federal government to solve our problems without regard to the appropriateness of such an expectation. It’s easier, it requires far less of us in the short-term, and all the cool kids are doing it.
On the other hand, think about how this simplifies the process for those seeking greater power, influence, or market force with minimal effort.
There is only one location and one group of people you need to convince, rather than 50 groups, scattered throughout the country, who actually live within the communities they represent. How many times have we heard the complaint that a patchwork of laws among the fifty states is just too onerous for large companies to navigate and manage, and we shouldn’t expect them to have to, so why don’t we just allow Washington to make one law for the whole country and call it good?
No question is raised or discussion had about whether the power sought by Congress or the President in addressing the issue is actually in line with the constitutional framework.
And this problem goes far beyond politics. How many of us have in recent years felt concerns about the large companies driving out local business, often through efforts that look an awful lot like regulatory capture? There just might be a connection.
The feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that many feel when their “side” doesn’t win a presidential election should not even be a thing in this country. The presidential contest in the United States was never meant to have such a deep and meaningful impact on the lives of individuals scattered throughout such a large and diverse nation.
Greater consolidations of power force greater conformity, and actually wipe away the diversity that many claim to so highly value. We see this problem growing in our schools, in our city and county planning departments, and in our overall regulatory environment on a host of issues.
Federalism is the answer
Do we as individuals feel greater control in our own lives and within our communities as federal power has expanded? If the answer is no, the solution is there.
Our founders understood this threat and provided a system to protect us from the natural tendency of ever-growing, more greatly consolidated power “if [we] can keep it.”
The framework is there, but only we the people can ensure it’s followed. We need to change our expectations. We need to hold our elected officials accountable to their oath of office.
We need to do the work.