States have combined to launch regional efforts against COVID-19. This is several months after a united effort should have begun. Of course, we had a united effort for many problems in this country - we are the “United States of America.”
If the Federal government had acted sooner, tens of thousands of lives might have been saved. Many died in The Civil War. Several matters were decided - or so we thought. One matter had to do with freedom and equality. Another related to power of the Federal government.
If another nation attacked the United States, not many would argue the 50 States confer and perhaps join in regional efforts against a foreign military. But here is the thing: States always have been a problem.
The 1787 convention that produced the Constitution acted to curtail the divisive nature of State control. “By late 1785, [James] Madison realized that individual states would never regulate commerce fairly.” Stewart, The Summer of 1787, 2007, p. 8.
States taxed goods as the goods passed into their ports (for a lucky State with a port) and as the goods passed out of the State to other States. States refused to contribute their share to the national operating expenses.
The resolution that authorized the convention was passed by Congress on February 21, 1787:
“Resolved that in the opinion of Congress it is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several states be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the states render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government & the preservation of the Union.”
Seventy-four (74) delegates were selected by twelve (12) States - Rhode Island “refused to participate” - and only fifty-five (55) attended over the summer. Patrick Henry was absent, saying he “smelt a rat.”
To the extent the convention re-wrote the government, it acted outside its charter “of revising the Articles of Confederation.” Concessions were made to mollify those who wanted to preserve more power for the individual States.
States do not have “rights.” The Declaration of Independence makes clear: “WE hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the Governed...”
Governments have powers derived from the consent of people. To say any government has “rights” is to put that, or any, government on a level equal to human beings. And the People, in many cases, have had to fight for their rights against States.
States have such sway that the notion of one person/one vote is sacrificed to the degree that the power of an individual voter from Wyoming to affect the “electoral college” is several times greater than that of a voter in California.
The strong Federal government established by the Civil War amendments was the force behind advancement of civil rights (Reconstruction, the later civil rights movement of the late 20th Century), limits on corporations (1890s-1900s), and protection of our environment (1970s).
We are now witness to the ways in which forces of repression would retard our rights as people. Our response to COVID-19 has led to tens of thousands of avoidable deaths. Had our response in 1941 been similar, today we would speak Japanese and German.
I am Mark Small, a candidate for U.S. House in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. We need to reign in forces defeated in the Civil War and recognize the need for a strong Federal government. I approve of this blog. Hell, I wrote it.
I would have thought that you'd realize the benefits of federalism after seeing how state governors (most of them at least) have stepped to the plate in the Covid-19 crisis.. Think how many more Americans would have been dead if we didn't have actual decision making at the state level? The notion the leaders in D.C. are going to have more wisdom than leaders in the respective states has been proven to be spectacularly wrong with Trump. The Covid-19 pandemic also has highlighted why there is a need for regional differences which is made possible more easily with federalism. The notion that there should be a one-size-fits-all approach out of Washington, DC is obviously wrong. In NYC, where there is an explosion of Covid-19 cases, there is a need for a lot more restrictions than in lightly-populated Alaska or Montana. I never understood why so many people are freaked out that states are allowed to have different laws that are best suited for the people who live in their state. That is a very, very good thing.
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