Sometimes I feel like an unworthy version of James Madison when I think if things like this – a sort of contemporary Publius.
Do you ever wonder if cultures and civilizations are limited in scalability?
If you look at even the greatest of historical empires, it seems that 1) they are small in population and/or geography as compared to today’s America, 2) they were controlled by rigid, regimented power structures and 3) all eventually fell.
Russia and Canada are larger than the US in geographical area but significantly smaller in population at 145 million and 37 million respectively. China and India are significantly larger in population but China is rigidly communistic and India has a rigid caste system.
The point being that in the larger areas with smaller populations, people can self-segregate into smaller concentrations of like values and perspectives – in the larger populations, rigid controls enforce common values and perspectives.
America is the largest geographical area with the largest number of people trying to preserve individual liberty while remaining a cohesive nation.
As I observe the constant clashes in the EU and the UK’s move to exit, I see the future of America. The EU is a preview of how difficult it is to stitch together the common good of multiple peoples while maintaining control and consistency without implementing dictatorial mandates – and the bureaucrats in Brussels aren’t that great at walking that line. Even Canada’s loose confederation is beginning to chafe as the Provinces as increased in population and power begin to create differences in prosperity, progress and perspective (BC and Alberta are in a pissing match over oil and pipelines and Quebec is at war with any who are non-French speaking).
America has an answer for this – and we have had it since September 17, 1787.
It is the Constitution of the United States of America.
Not the “America” as a nation – but the several “united states” that make up America the nation.
It is federalism. The concept that the states are free to act in ways representative of their people and that power is pushed down to the lowest level of the civilization – the individual.
The Articles of Confederation didn’t work because they were too loose. The EU is in constant turmoil because it is too tight.
The Constitution isn’t working today because it has been stretched beyond comprehension in a quest to centralize power – like the EU…but it will work if we apply it as intended. America’s reluctance to deal with the inhuman institution of slavery and the Civil War that resulted put us on a path to a centralized national government not anticipated or prescribed by the framers of our Constitution.
Federalism is infinitely scalable. Single point of control of a nation is not.
As opposed to collectivism, federalism has worked to preserve in increase individual freedom and liberty every single time it has been tried.
3 thoughts on “A Contemporary Publius”
Perhaps as long as the debts of the individual states are kept separate, the federal government has little or no debt, and the states do not pool their debt and become responsible for other states’ debts. The sharing of responsibility leads to fights over authority. The federal debt can now ruin all the states. State debts are mostly in the form of bonds, which can wreck only that state. Cities like Chicago are also potential disaster areas for their state, with their debts and pension liabilities.
Federalism has really only been tried once – we are the test case. “If we apply it as intended” – the founders did not want the federal government to have lasting debts.
Letting each state go its own way threatens the essential mutual trust which is derived from a common moral base. Even libertarianism cannot survive without such a base. America once had one.
Libertarianism is a complete fraud. An attempt to highjack the Founders and Framers well thought out concerns about centralized control. Our founding principles need no such re-branding or re-interpretation. Not saying you are a libertarian….. don’t know if you are. Merely pointing out one of the plethora of misconceptions that pollute the dialogue and prevent REAL political philosophical discourse from happening today.
The issue of debt and the authority to raise tax was at the Center of the debate between the founders/framers who wanted a Centralized power gov’t ( Hamilton and Madison) and those who were very wary of Such ( Mason, Jefferson, Melancton Smith, John Francis Mercer, Martin Luther and many others).
Also the Federalists co-opted the term early on ( pro-progressivist).
Federalism ( ‘States Right’s a more pedestrian definition today ) quickly became the name given to the movement to ratify the Constitution. Those who opposed ( and there were MANY- the final ratification numbers were thin) were called the anti-Federalists. The issue of unlimited Deby and tax collection was central to their being against ratification.
It should be noted that Hamilton ( the biggest proponent of the Constitution) wanted NO Bill of Rights…..and unlimited power to raise unlimited amounts of money from the States and the People !!
No wonder he was the subject of a NYC Liberal musical currently wildly popular there !!
The more multicultural an empire or nation becomes the more it’s rulers/governments will have to use brutal force to control the dissenters. When the US was mostly white European it provided a small opportunity for a government designed along limited power. Now we have been tribalized by unfettered immigration and differences in moral standards to the point it is likely irreversible and the only outcome will be more force.