Jim Geraghty cites a poll showing a politically divided nation and Americans thinking that’s not so bad. It’s always Democrats you hear yammering about “unity” which to them means everyone agreeing with them.
“Honestly, I feel like Congress is designed to be slow, so it could be frustrating but that’s how they are designed to be,” Gage Egurrola, 23, a salesman from Caldwell, Idaho, who was among those surveyed. “It helps stop bad policies.”
A key goal of the framers was to create a Senate differently constituted from the House so it would be less subject to popular passions and impulses. “The use of the Senate,” wrote James Madison in Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, “is to consist in its proceedings with more coolness, with more system and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.” An oft-quoted story about the “coolness” of the Senate involves George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who was in France during the Constitutional Convention. Upon his return, Jefferson visited Washington and asked why the Convention delegates had created a Senate. “Why did you pour that tea into your saucer?” asked Washington. “To cool it,” said Jefferson. “Even so,” responded Washington, “we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”
We would like our divisions even more if we had a more federalist approach!
We’re a divided country because we have 317 million people, and at least two major strands of thought and philosophy about the role of the government.
To echo a thought or two when Glenn Beck said he feared he had divided the country… we have red states and blue states, with different cultures, voting patterns, and broadly-held philosophies about government. Ideally, we would have let each part of the country live the way they want, as long as its laws didn’t violate the Constitution. You want high taxes and generous public benefits? Go ahead and have them; we’ll see if your voters vote with their feet. Let Illinois be Illinois, and let South Carolina be South Carolina.
Last fall I took a trip to Seattle, Wash., and the surrounding area. It seemed like every menu, store display, and sign emphasized that the offered products were entirely organic, biodegradable, free range, pesticide-free, fair trade, cruelty-free, and every other environmentally-conscious label you can imagine. (The television show Portlandia did a pretty funny sketch about the ever-increasing, ever-more-specific variety of recycling bins, with separate bins for the coffee cup, the coffee-cup lid, the coffee-cup sleeve, and the coffee-cup stirrer; there’s a separate bin if the lid has lipstick on it.)
Penn and Teller beat them to it. Watch the video posted below. At around the 4 minute mark they pull their stunt.
Maybe it’s just a natural consequence that when you have Mount Rainier and Puget Sound outside your window, you become a crunchy tree-hugging environmentalist. If that’s the way they want to live up there, that’s fine. The food was mostly excellent. Let the Seattle-ites elect a Socialist to their city council. Let Sea-Tac try a $15/hour minimum wage and see if the airport Starbucks starts charging twenty bucks for a small latte.
As long as other parts of the country are allowed to pursue their own paths, that’s fine.
But a big part of the problem is that we have an administration in Washington that is determined to stomp out the state policies it doesn’t like. The president doesn’t want there to be any right-to-work states. His Department of Justice is doing everything possible to obstruct Louisiana’s school-choice laws. They’re fighting state voter ID laws in court, insisting that it violates the Constitution, even though the Supreme Court ruled, 6 to 3, that requiring the showing of an ID does not represent an undue burden on voters.
This you-must-comply attitude can be found in the states as well, of course. Hell, in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to drive pro-lifers, Second Amendment supporters, and those he labels “anti-gay” out of his state. Mayors decree that they won’t allow Chick-Fil-A in their cities because of the opinions of the owners. In Oregon, state officials decreed that a baker must make a wedding cake for a gay wedding; the state decrees you are not permitted to turn down a work request that you believe violates your conscience or religious beliefs.
The country would be “torn apart” less if we were allowed to address more of our public-policy problems on a local or state basis. But anti-federalism is in the cellular structure of liberalism. All of their solutions are “universal,” “comprehensive,” or “sweeping.” Everything must be changed at once, for everyone, with no exceptions. Perhaps it’s a good approach for some other species, but not human beings.